S'porean whose friends died in Tibetan trek: I had to keep moving or freeze to death

S'porean whose friends died in Tibetan trek: I had to keep moving or freeze to death

It was the most difficult decision that they had ever made.

Two of their friends died while trekking around Mount Kailash in Tibet. But the trio had to leave the bodies behind as they feared for their own safety.

Madam Jenny Tan, her eyes brimming with tears, said: "Concerned passers-by - local Tibetans - told us that if we didn't move, we would die because the weather was freezing. It was the most difficult part of the journey."

The exhausted trio pressed on lest they too perished amid the snow-covered slopes.

The 47-year-old housewife is one of the eight Singaporean pilgrims who survived last year's ill-fated trek around the 6,638m-tall mountain. Sadly, two others did not survive the gruelling 52km trek.

Ms Alice Sim, 61, and Mr Raymond Chan Lay Ho, 66, died after developing altitude sickness at the 5,500m Dolma-la pass, the highest point of their journey.

Mount Kailash is considered sacred by Buddhists and Hindus. The holy site is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.

According to Buddhist beliefs, completing a circuit around it would wash away a lifetime of sin. Hindus believe that the mountain is the abode of one of their deities, Lord Shiva.

Located in Ali prefecture, some 1,200km out of the Tibetan regional capital of Lhasa, it takes 19 hours by road to reach the mountain.

On Sunday, five of the survivors - all friends who had worked with Ms Sim on charity events - broke their silence to The New Paper about their trip which started on May 1 last year.

Company executive David Tay, 55, said that on the seventh day of the trip, he and five others - Ms Sim, Mr Chan, Madam Tan, a patient service assistant who only wanted to be known as Miss Tang and a woman named Mary - managed to reach Dolma-la pass first because they rode horses there.

But the steep incline at the pass forced them to dismount and trudge on foot.

On the way up, because they felt lost, exhausted and "desperate for help", Madam Tan approached 10 young locals who agreed to help them walk up the slope by supporting them.

The remaining four pilgrims - Mr Tay's daughter Apple, 20; his wife Lilian Tan, 53, and a married couple known only as Mr and Mrs Er - were further behind.

They were accompanied by their tour guide who had earlier met them when they first reached Lhasa.

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