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Own Your Story #25 with Ken Ng: Life lessons learned from Everest Base Camp Trek

When I met Ken last year, I never knew that he would entrust me with his book project, later became a friend, mentor, and most recently, a trekking mate.

In a meeting after our Everest Base Camp trek, I told Ken about my ‘existential void’ in making sense of the gap between two different worlds. Ken resonated with my feeling, which sparked the idea of sharing our experience through a podcast.

Human connection and love

Trekking in a big group of 25 people, the EBC trek was as much about human connection as it was about the trek. To Ken, it was an interesting experience to observe the love and care between strangers as well family members within the group.

An incident that moved Ken deeply during the trek happened when Ken witnessed the heart-wrenching moment when his roommate was evacuated due to altitude sickness. Trekking as a mother-son duo, his roommate encouraged his mother to go on with the trek while the mother made the hard decision to part with him in tears. It is in the moment like this that love shines.

One step at a time

In this trek, Ken also took note of the strength in trekkers from all walks of life in times of struggle and fatigue. Trekking from Lukla to the basecamp at the altitude above 5300 m, we needed to go through stretches of steep slopes while navigating the declining oxygen level.

When asked about how he motivated himself during the tough times, Ken said that having a clear goal, knowing exactly what needed to be achieved each day, and taking one step at a time helped him to stay focus and keep going.

Create the experience of a lifetime

When I told Ken about EBC trek in April, Ken’s eyes lighted up. Climbing Mount Everest has always been in his bucket list.

This trek meant a lot to Ken because it reminded him that it is never too late to create a new experience and realize his dream. In this trek, he took pride in waving his company flag at the basecamp, taking a helicopter for the first time, and conquering Kalapattar peak in tough condition.

Perspective change

Having accomplished a big goal after EBC trek, Ken admitted that he went through a ‘calm and confused’ period to embrace a new self. It was as if life and time slowed down during the trek, and it prompted Ken to turn inwards and ask — is he rushing too much? Does he appreciate blessings in life? Is he doing the right thing?

Ken attributes his personal transformation to the book he brought, ‘A Monk Who Sold His Ferrarri’, journaling and going through tough moments during the trek. After EBC trek, he becomes more appreciative of time, gains more clarity in life and most importantly, learns to let go and trust the team while he was away.

A challenge worth taking

Ken would recommend everyone to trek in the Himalayan Mountains because one gets to experience a different life, see how local community live and recognize the power of nature.

It is interesting that Ken brought up the word ‘surrender’ because we learned that nature is the ultimate force that dictates our trekking experience, not money or relationship.

I guess the point of travelling, seeking for a new adventure, and tackling a massive challenge is universal — to poke the edge of our comfort zone and widen our perspective.

In this space, we get a chance to peek into our innermost being, to match the objective reality to our subjective experience, ultimately create the meaning of being alive.

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