by Liu Tong, Xue Fei, Lin Hao
KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Yang Yaoru, a 24-year-old girl from China's eastern Jiangsu province, could never imagine she could repeat the adventures of "The Life of Pi," though not on her own.
Lying in bed at a hospital in Kota Kinabalu (KK), the capital of the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, Yang recalled to Xinhua how in two days after the boat capsized on Saturday, she and around 20 Chinese tourists and Malaysian crewmembers floated in the sea after high waves sank their boat, cast them back and forth but did not destruct their hope of life.
Yang is one of the 20 Chinese citizens that have been rescued by Malaysian search and rescue forces on Sunday.
It was not easy for Yang, who as one of millions of Chinese citizens, are increasingly keen to spend the Spring Festival Holiday going abroad for travel and leisure instead of staying at home.
A busy accountant, Yang only got the chance to discard work and brought her mother to the beach and sunshine in Sabah of Malaysia during the seven-day holiday.
On that day, they were about to go snorkeling on Mengalum Island, 55 km away from KK.
It all went well at first, but after around 40 minutes, the boat, a catamaran, suddenly broke down. Then some people noticed that water start to flood in.
Everybody was so scared and panicked, and then jumped into the water, with some people crying, said Yang, noting that some people even asked for God's help.
When they realized that crying does not help, everybody tried to rely on their life instinct. Yang did not know when all the people, with life jackets on, began to seize each other's hands and float in the water as a group.
"We know that if we want to have a better chance of survival, we have to stick together," said Yang. "At that time, everybody was scared, but if we stick together, our fear will be diminished."
"If you float in the sea alone, I guess nobody can last very long," she said.
The power of unity encouraged everybody, some people began to locate the nearest island while others tried to find a cellphone that can still receive signal, almost exhausting all possible self-help measures. Every time they heard ships passing by, they tried to swim to the right direction but failed all the time.
Some, though only met when they first boarded the boat, encouraged each other while some others, weighed down by sunburnt bruises and dehydration, also entertained the idea of giving up.
Yang knew a young woman, who not only organized people to save themselves, but also had a daughter who share her mother's tough character, never crying during the process.
"But later, the mother's life jacket broke while she exhausted all her strength," recalled Yang, with tears in her eyes. "We have no choice but have to let her go."
Yang also worried about her mother.
"One thought I had at that time is that I must bring my mother home, so that even if I die, my father still has a chance to have a baby with my mother."
As humanity has shown in every disaster, people fight for food and water when they are desperate. According to Yang, one of the crewmember tried to snatch water from children.
"We had to convince him to calm down and tell him that our motherland is powerful enough to organize search and rescue missions," said Yang.
With such a conviction in mind, Yang and her fellows weathered high waves and suffered skin ulceration due to prolonged stay in the water and finally had enough strength to get rescued by a passing fishing boat.
"After this, nothing is more important than being alive," she said.