Up early to take a 40-minute coach ride to our start point. Once we left the city, the roads became very challenging! We dodged whole families on one moped, small children on bicycles and cattle, dogs and kittens galore.

Gradually, the beauty of Cambodia began to unfold. Paddy fields, tapioca crops and wild lemon grass and basil – this is a place where whole families tend the land together and children proficiently fish in the many lakes that are dotted across the fields.

Today was hot! Our first stop was at a beautiful Buddhist temple where a community of monks welcomed us. Our local guides were one step ahead, waiting for us with snacks, fruit and drinks that we sorely needed to help with the oppressive temperature. More agricultural land after our break with ginger and nicotine plants this time. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any hotter, the sun beat down. So much so, our guides advised an early lunch. We took shelter in a wooden shack and the amazing team arrived with tiffin cans for each of us. In the middle of nowhere we enjoyed spring rolls, a curry and delicious jasmine rice.

A little cloud cover helped us start the afternoon section cooler. We have a great group – young and older, experienced and novice walkers – but everyone walking together as a team. Our last break of the day was at an elaborate public park with giant elephant and tiger sculptures – quite a surprise in the middle of nowhere!

A short walk to the end and we entered our camp for the night – what a pleasant surprise! Our tents were waiting for us, a shower had been set up (who knew a bucket and cold water could be so appealing?!) and underneath the trees, tables were set for our first dinner on the edge of the jungle.

A chance to reflect on the highs and lows of a challenging, hot day, getting used to a big-time difference (we started walking today at midnight UK time) and really appreciating the warm welcome we have received from the wonderful people in this amazing part of the world.

The St John’s Hospice Cambodia Trekkers

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