Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Cyclist returns from ride of a lifetime

Rob Southwell has recently completed a fundraising bike ride in Thailand and raised more than $13,000 for charity.

JESS CRAIG January 31, 2014 4:43am

Rob Southwell has recently completed a fundraising bike ride in Thailand. Photo supplied by Rob Southwell.

Brilliant, memorable and fantastic is how Rob Southwell described his ride of a lifetime through Thailand to raise money for children affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Mr Southwell had been training for the Hands Across The Water ride since last year and had to raise $10,000 to be eligible to take part.

‘‘I raised more than $13,000,’’ he said.

Mr Southwell headed off on his adventure earlier this month, ready to ride the 800km from Nong Khai to Yasothon.

Riding in a group of 19 and accompanied by a support crew, Mr Southwell said the experience was like no other.

‘‘It was brilliant,’’ he said.

‘‘We rode for four days, then we had a rest day and then we carried on... you had to ride about 100km a day.

‘‘There were days where you weren’t quite sure what day it was or where you were because they started to blend together.

‘‘It wasn’t too humid or too hilly and everyone supported each other.’’

Mr Southwell said the ride took him through many small villages and communities, where the group were greeted by excited locals.

‘‘They would all come running out and call out ‘hello’ and ‘Happy New Year’ and wave as you went past.

‘‘They’re a very friendly group of people.’’

The father said the highlight of the trip was the chance to meet some of the children who were living in the orphanage.

‘‘The first time we met them, it was a surprise visit, so we didn’t know it was going to happen,’’ he said.

‘‘They came to our hotel while we were on a rest day and they were hugging us... they were very excited.’’

The group shared dinner with the children a few days later.

The final day came as they arrived in Yasothon.

Tired and hot, Mr Southwell said the greeting was second to none.

‘‘We felt like kings,’’ he said.

‘‘They were so happy to see us they basically carried us off our bikes and took us over to where they had drinks set up.

‘‘The kids put on a performance for us and then we went on a tour of the orphanage.

‘‘They’ve had very hard lives... so many are affected by HIV, others have dealt with abuse or been sold into the child sex trade.

‘‘To see the orphanage and where the money I raised went made it worthwhile.’’

Mr Southwell acknowledged the support of people who donated to the ride.

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