BackStories » Vietnam » Hanoi Woman Survives 7 Days in the Wild After Falling off Cliff During Pagoda Visit

Would you be able to survive a week in the wilderness of Vietnam?

On May 3, the Management Committee of the Yên Tử Historical Relic and National Forest confirmed that at 9:15am that morning they rescued a woman from the forest near the Chùa Đồng (Bronze Pagoda) in Quảng Ninh Province, according to Dân Trí.

The person saved was 59-year-old Nguyễn Thị Bích Liên, a resident of Từ Liêm District, Hanoi. According to Liên, on April 27, she visited the pagoda alone and accidentally fell over a ledge on the way down.

After attending a service at Chùa Đồng, she was climbing down the steps when she felt faint and took a break near a stretch of railing at the pagoda premise. When Liên tried to stand up, she was dizzy and toppled over the side of the mountain.

Liên survived thanks to tree canopies and trashbags which cushioned her fall, however, her cries for help could not reach anyone due to the stormy weather and thick fog at the time. While waiting for assistance, for sustenance, she only had a piece of cơm cháy (rice cracker) and a bottle of water, which she used to collect rainwater and leftover water from discarded bottles.

“Apart from scavenging, I picked wild leaves and fiddleheads to eat. On May 3, I nearly ran out of rice and water and was planning to make another scavenging trip, but somebody heard my yells for help,” she shared with Tuổi Trẻ.

The newspaper reports that Liên’s body is covered in scars and scratches, but she's otherwise fine. During the days in the forest, she also collected metal scraps and rocks to make noises, which luckily attracted the attention of Yên Tử committee members that morning.

Liên’s miraculous survival had inspired some criticisms on the local cybersphere, accusing her of making things up for attention.

“How I got there [the pagoda], which way I took was shown in my [cable car] ticket. I can’t just pick up a random ticket stub and lie,” she told the news source. “I’m not a monastic or monk or someone who needs to bait likes on social media. My family life was peaceful, why would I fabricate this story to mess everything up?” 

She added that she wanted to tell her story just to help spread awareness of the necessity of survival skills during freak accidents like hers.

Yên Tử is the name of both a mountain range and its peak in northern Vietnam. The range spans Quảng Ninh, Bắc Giang and Hải Dương provinces. Chùa Đồng is perched on the range’s highest point, over 1,068 meters from sea level. It’s widely believed to be a significant landmark of Vietnam’s Buddhist history and home to Emperor Trần Nhân Tông’s monastery where he founded Trúc Lâm, the only indigenous Zen Buddhist sect in Vietnam.

[Photo via Vietnam+]

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