Back in 2009, two former Emirates employees, Juan Paredes and Julian Carnall, decided to combine their love of travel and passion for Sri Lanka to give back to the recently war-ravaged country. To do so, they formed the company Large Minority and created Lanka Challenge, which has become an annual charity initiative that involves travelling around the island in a tuk tuk with the aim of raising money for the people of Sri Lanka, while having a wild, three-wheeling time.
Buoyed by the success of Lanka Challenge, Paredes and Carnall turned their attention to a second nation, Cambodia, which is just as reliant on the tuk tuk for daily transport, and has an equally heart-wrenching story of civil war to tell owing to the devastation at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. But it’s also a land of lush, green nature and boasts the unparalleled ancient architectural wonder, Angkor Wat, which participants will get to experience.
Now in its third year, Cambo Challenge sees fundraisers get to grips with a 1,650km stretch of the tiny country, and once they’ve mastered the Japanese-powered, Cambodian-designed tuk tuks, they simply need to drive. During the 12-day trip, challengers must make their way through areas such as Siem Reap, the gateway to the ruins of Angkor, Phnom Penh, the capital, the coastal city of Sihanoukville, and Battambang in the northwest of the country. Participants will raise money for local charities (ten percent of each team’s entry fee is allocated towards local charitable projects) and engage with local communities along the way, for example through education and environmental awareness.
Large Minority has also launched a sailing challenge that will take place on Saturday October 8 to Sunday 16 next year, which will cover 30 nautical miles between the beautiful islands of the Philippines. Also on the agenda is the Amazon Challenge, which will cross Colombia, Peru and Brazil from Friday March 17 to Saturday 25, 2017. Describing itself as “the best jungle adventure in South America”, this challenge will replace Asia’s transport of choice, the tuk tuk, with the Amazonian equivalent: dugout canoes and your own two feet.
Cambo Challenge: From Dhs9,549 per person (team of two), from Dhs9,182 per person (team of three). October 17-28. www.cambochallenge.com.
Tuk tuk travel tips Ultimate survival guide
You’re going to have to lean on the locals for help, be it with directions or laying out flares for the medevac helicopter. But while it’s a fun adventure for you, this is real life for them. Money is good, but pens, cricket bats and books are life changers for kids. Pack accordingly.
Take LED lights
You of course won’t think about lights until it gets dark and you have nine hours to go, and your equipped tuk tuk light is so dim moths aren’t even interested. But it’s essential you take a bag of cheap LED lights to wrap around your machine, because those with lights finish alive.
Take A Map
Yes, you are going to get lost. In a cane field. And oh look, there’s some chap running towards you waving a friendly looking gun. It’s map time baby. Have three stuck to the inside of the tuk tuk and you’re out of there. Or your last words will be, “Excuse me, is that the North Star?”
Take a waterproof bag
Not a bin bag, but a lock-tight, sealable bag. The kind you’d take white water rafting to put your valuables in. Why? There are no doors or windows in a tuk tuk. You will get wet and covered in petrol. But at the finish line, you’ll be the only one with a dry shirt and functioning phone. Result.