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RDL Congratulates Tham Li Vyen

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RDL Congratulates Tham Li Vyen

Li Vyen conquered Everest Base Camp, at an altitude of 5,364 meters (17,958 ft) on 1st October 2014, together with her team-mates after more than a week’s trekking through the most challenging of obstacles and terrain. By comparison, Mt Kinabalu the tallest peak east of the Himalayas (up until New Guinea) is only 4,095 meters (13,435 ft) above sea level. Imagine having to contend with hypothermia, altitude sickness and food poisoning as well!  If some in the office think that our air-conditioning is too cold, Li Vyen will tell you that the temperature at Gorak Shep, the last village before the Everest Base Camp, is much much worse: even the water in the team’s water bottles froze!
I had the privilege to speak to Li Vyen about her expedition and this is an excerpt of her very courageous expedition.
The 5am wake-up call on 23rd September 2014 marked the start of Li Vyen’s exciting adventure.  
Li Vyen said that the journey of reaching Everest Base Camp required extreme effort and persistence. The repetitive routine each day felt like a relentless struggle. She battled against extreme exhaustion and bitterly cold conditions in an environment isolated from technology. 
The process was mentally challenging and psychologically taxing. There was no phone, no TV, no internet. Each day when I woke up, I had to trek” Li Vyen said.
She found the hours of climbing, trekking across mountains and sheer steps, even right through to the last leg of her ascent to the Everest Base Camp, tremendously exhausting. Although she had known it was not going to be easy, she had not expected the trekking process to be such a challenge. To keep her going, she dug into her memory banks of pictures of the Everest Base Camp. Many times, she was taken way out of her comfort zone and faced situations where she had to make snap decisions. 
While I was trekking, I felt sick and knew that something was wrong with my body. It was so cold and windy; I had to remain calm to think of a remedial action to help improve my situation”.
Some nights were spent in half-constructed buildings vacant of basic amenities such as electricity and water supply. 
30th September was the most brutal night! I believe the temperature was close to 0oC. I saw ice on the window when I woke up the next morning”. 
Some other unforgettable aspects of her adventure were : to be greeted by ice-capped mountains every morning, brushing her teeth outdoors at night under a sky full of stars, beholding convoys of yaks along the way, having a hair wash at the world’s highest hair saloon at Namche Bazaar, and landing and taking off at Lukla airport (the most dangerous airport in the world) which has a really short runway facing a mountain at one end and a cliff at the other. 
Finally reaching the Everest Base Camp was “unbelievable and euphoric”, although she exhausted her energy levels.
Standing at the EBC felt like the closest I could get to the roof of the world”. 
She was enthralled by the magnificent scenery before her, the mountains beyond were capped with snow and Mount Everest imposed its presence.
Looking back, the expedition was more than just “something different” from a normal travelling experience and was a fantastic personal triumph, where she was able to overcome the hardest physical and emotional challenges.   
Li Vyen recognizes that the expedition taught her to always stay focused on what she wants to achieve - the end goal of reaching the Everest Base Camp was the main driver that motivated her to pull through. Likewise, in her career in law, she acknowledges that at times, she faces situations or cases that she is not familiar with, but she must stay focused on her goals and pace herself to achieve what she has set out for.
Incidentally, Li Vyen’s ventures transcend mountains – in 2013, she participated in the Raleigh Round Island Challenge, to swim around the Perhentian Islands in the Peninsular East Coast to raise funds for Raleigh Kuala Lumpur. She also volunteered at the Raleigh International Expedition in Borneo to help build a kindergarten in Sabah. Quite immediately from her return to Malaysia on 11th October 2014, she put on her running shoes to complete the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, all 42 kms, that same weekend! 
Li Vyen thinks that it is important that she takes up challenges as it is only through challenges that she can discover her limits and improve herself.
When I am at work, I do something that challenges me intellectually. When I am not at work, I do something that challenges me physically. One can never stop learning. Formal education would only teach you that much. There is no hard and fast rule as to how one makes decisions in life. In life, one learns by bearing the consequences of one’s decisions. It is the process you go through that will make you realise and learn about yourself.
Li Vyen said that the sight of Mount Everest itself in real life is beyond description and aims to make it to the peak one day. 
RDL congratulates Li Vyen on her achievement and welcomes her back to the lowlands!!
June Loh 
(Pupil in chambers)

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