Nguyen Thi Bich Lien, a resident of Hanoi who survived after spending a week lost in the wild, shared her story with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Wednesday in the hope of motivating others to maintain a sense of purpose in life and equip themselves with survival skills.
Welcoming a Tuoi Tre reporter into her home in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, the 59-year-old woman said that she would always remember the seven days she spent lost in the wild after falling down a 30-meter cliff at Dong Pagoda, part of the Yen Tu national relic on the namesake mountain in northern Quang Ninh Province.
Lien was visiting a friend in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province on April 27 when she made the spontaneous decision to come to Yen Tu.
“My husband and I often go out for a few days at a time without telling each other, so I didn’t think twice before leaving [for Yen Tu]," Lien said.
"I definitely didn’t expect it to turn out the way it did."
Surviving on rice cakes, water, leaves, ferns
Lien took a bus from Ha Long to Yen Tu around the midday of April 27 and had lunch at the national relic site, before buying a cable car ticket to Dong Pagoda.
After praying, she began following a group of visitors down the mountain, but eventually stopped to take a break alone.
When she stood up again, she got dizzy, lost her balance, and fell down a 30-meter cliff.
When she finally recovered, she heard someone’s voice and tried to shout for help, but she fell further down the cliff.
Worried that trying to climb back up would be dangerous, Lien simply did her best to hang, but the weight of her body pulled her further down.
|Nguyen Thi Bich Lien shows wounds on her arms at her house in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, May 4, 2022. Photo: Thanh Chung / Tuoi Tre|
Eventually, she was able to grab a hold of some bamboo and pull herself over to a stone slab where she could rest and begin calling for help.
According to Lien, it was very rainy and foggy, with visibility only about two meters.
She was wet, cold, and utterly dirty.
Fortunately, she was able to use a rope to tie enough bamboo to the stone slab to protect herself from the rain.
She also used plastic bags to cover her head, body, arms, and legs.
For food and water, the woman was able to survive off the rice cakes and water that she had brought with her to the temple, as well as discarded water bottles that previous visitors had thrown down the cliff.
“In addition to scavenging, I picked leaves and ferns to eat,” Lien recalled.
“By the third day, I was almost finished with my rice cakes and water.
"Luckily, just as I was going out to scavenge, someone heard my cries for help.”
|Nguyen Thi Bich Lien shows wounds on her arms and legs at her house in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, May 4, 2022. Photo: Thanh Chung / Tuoi Tre|
‘I’m not making this up'
“I’m still somewhat panicked thinking about the incident,” Lien said.
“At the boundary of life and death, I just tried to save myself and find ways to survive.”
According to Lien, the only thing she could do was remind herself: “Don’t give up” and “Make it home to your husband and children.”
Lien’s shouts were eventually heard by an officer managing the national relic on Tuesday morning.
The woman repeatedly affirmed that her story is true, and even has her cable car ticket from April 27 as proof.
“The ticket and security camera footage prove my journey,” Lien stated.
“I didn’t pick up the ticket to make up a story.
“I don’t have any motives to think up such a story to attract unwanted attention and thus to trade my family’s peaceful life.
“No one would make it up to put their family in crisis."
The woman added that she shared her survival story in the hope of motivating others to maintain a sense of purpose in life and equip themselves with survival skills.