Angkor Wat Bike Race attracts cyclists for charity

This past weekend, more than 600 cyclists turned out at dawn for the annual Angkor Wat Bike Race and Ride at the temple complex outside Siem Reap, Cambodia. As the sun rose behind the main temple, cyclists shot off to tackle a 100 kilometer course, a 30 kilometer course, and a breezier 17 kilometer course.

I’m hard pressed to think of a more magical way to experience the temples of Angkor Wat than on a bicycle at sunrise. Throw in a group of passionate cycling companions and a great cause, and you’ve got the makings of a life-changing experience.<

Now in its sixth year, the Angkor Wat Bike Race is organized and hosted by Village Focus International, a non-profit organization that empowers local leaders to serve vulnerable communities in Cambodia and Laos. This year, the event raised more than $50,000 to support four Cambodian slum schools and a shelter for survivors of sex trafficking.

Participants included a mix of Cambodian cycling clubs, local ex-pats, and a small group of international regulars who return to Siem Reap each year just to participate in the race. From the photos in our gallery, it’s not difficult to see why they keep coming back.


Tarp Shelters

Minimalist campers — or those just too stinking cheap to purchase a tent — will no doubt thrill at the bounty of tarp-related information provided on

From an exhaustive FAQs relating to tarp shelters, to detailed schematics about the various ways to hang a tarp to suit your needs, to intricate folding patterns for your tarps, this site is like the Costco of tarps: it’s a one-stop shop.

It’s worth noting that the piece specifically warns against using a tarp to protect against hailstorms. My thought? If you didn’t know that already, then you should NOT click over to read more. Go read about sexy cities instead. Thanks.

Volunteer Vacation Reviewed

Now that I’ve given you a week of blow-by-blow insider detail and a look at how fun volunteering while on vacation can be, let’s do a quick review. First question people always ask, “How can I do something like this or volunteer with Habitat for Humanity?” Joining a GV Team with Habitat for Humanity is usually the easiest part I find. Before signing up for the first plane to Uganda to help build homes start by learning about the organization. Habitat for Humanity International is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. Their mission is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. I was introduced long ago when I read an article in TeenPeople Magazine about Sarah Michelle Gellar doing GV builds in Dominican Republic. I was so inspired I immediately looked Habitat up and followed homeowner, volunteers and other participant stories on their website until taking off for my first build.

There are many ways to get involved with Habitat. Check out their Get Involved page to find an opportunity for you. Global Village builds often leave people wishing they had done more. AmeriCorps/VISTA has several long term programs (up to one year) with Habitat located in many different locations throughout the U.S. If travel to foreign lands to lend your hand is what you are after, head right to the Global Village Program. Search the list of available trips and then apply online or download the application to submit via post. From this point there are two roads you can take, possibly more if you are a sharp thinker. One road is to raise the money for your trip expenses by fundraising and other activities. The second road is to raise the money from your very own paycheck or savings. I’ve taken both roads and I’ll say the first is much better if you have the time and can be a great way to spread the word and get others involved with Habitat and their mission.

Once you’ve taken care of all of the above, you’re pretty much on your way to fun times and doing great things. Beyond all it’s one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time, energy and did I mention work hard!

If you missed the Volunteer Vacation installments you can catch up on them all here: