Stomach and knee pain kept climber from Everest avalanche

Stomach and knee pain kept climber from Everest avalanche

PETALING JAYA - Stomach and knee pain turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Joyce Lee, 38, who may have been trapped at the avalanche area at the Everest Base Camp had she ignored her condition.

Lee, a photographer and freelance travel writer, said both she and her guide, Hem, became unwell after they reached 4,000m, which caused them to cancel their trek to the base camp.

"I have never had stomach problems in all my years of travelling. This time it was unusual," said Lee over text messages exchanged with The Star yesterday.

Lee said her trip started on April 14 in Lukla where she, Hem and a porter called Mani were supposed to trek to Gokyo Ri before making their way to the base camp.

"It was a narrow escape. I arrived in Namche Bazaar on Friday to rest and the earthquake hit the next day.

"My stomach problem stopped once I reached Namche Bazaar.

"I was in the dining hall of a lodge when the earthquake struck. Everyone was unsure what was happening when the building shook. It took us a few seconds to register (that it was an earthquake)," said Lee who was making her third trip to Nepal.

Lee said people shouted and ran for their lives when the earth began to shake.

"I didn't really panic but at one point when we were running down the staircase, I really thought the building was going to collapse.

"The feeling was so intense. I felt like I couldn't even balance myself. Maybe my knees felt like they had turned into jelly," she said.

Lee said she had no problems finding food and water but slept under a tent in Namche Bazaar for a night as there was no accommodation in the lodges.

She said Hem took care of her and provided great support and comfort for her throughout the ordeal.

"He did his best as a guide to take care of things for me. Otherwise without a local who has the contacts and knows the language, I would have been very stressed and helpless," said Lee who arrived in Kathmandu from Lukla yesterday.

Lee is expected to arrive home from Kathmandu this evening.

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