Singaporean takes the plunge in freezing Antarctic
When Ms Anthea Ong, 49, travelled to Antarctica last month, she had 15 minutes to decide whether to do the polar plunge - jumping into -5 deg C waters.
Not only was she afraid of drowning, the expedition doctor had warned that her heart might stop if she panicked and if her body could not handle the extreme cold.
But when it came to her turn, the divorcee took the plunge.
On Feb 28, Robert Swan, known as the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles in the 1980s, led 100 people from around the world on a 13-day expedition to Antarctica.
Three were Singaporean women - Ms Jessica Cheam , 34, the managing editor of Eco-Business, a media organisation that reports on sustainable development; singer-songwriter Inch Chua, 29, and Ms Ong, founder of Hush TeaBar, which employs deaf people and those with mental health issues.
Ms Ong told The New Paper: "(After I jumped,) I was overwhelmed by a humbling sense of triumph, a new respect for myself and I was deeply grateful to have made the decision to take the plunge."
She paid $23,700 for the trip while Ms Cheam and Ms Chua won a contest organised by City Developments Limited, where they proposed solutions for climate change.
To reach Antarctica, the expedition had to endure a three-day trip across the Drake Passage, a 1,000km channel between South America's Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, notorious for its strong winds, high turbulence and vicious storms.
Ms Ong said: "About 70 per cent of the participants were sick and curled up in their cabins despite seasickness patches and pills. We experienced three-metre waves and the ocean liner was swaying."
Fortunately, the sea calmed after the ship crossed the Antarctic Circle.
Ms Cheam, who did a short film for Eco-Business, found filming in sub-zero temperatures a hurdle.
There was rain and hail during the shoot, and the temperature dipped to -20 deg C at one point.
Ms Cheam, a mother of two, had to operate camera gear without gloves. As a result, her hands were red, raw and severely numb.
She added: "Some of the other safety concerns included being careful not to fall overboard when the waters were very choppy. A few minutes in the cold Antarctic waters can kill a human being."
Her short film will be screened on June 4 at an exhibition at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, showcasing her trip to Antarctica.
Ms Cheam added: "It is an extreme, deathly cold environment but beautiful in its desolateness. I fell in love with nature all over again every day I was there."