“Alone: Polar Bear Island” on the History Channel is the ultimate test of human will, as contestants face absolute solitude among hungry predators.
Season 9 of the self-documented series follows 10 contestants who are dropped into a remote valley in the wilderness of Labrador, Canada, and are only permitted to carry 10 items that will aid them during their stay in polar bear territory – all in the hopes of claiming the $500,000 prize and becoming the sole survivor.
Dr. Teimojin Tan, who brought a sleeping bag, an axe, a multitool, a ferro rod, a pot, a bow and arrows, paracord, trapping wire, fishing line and hooks, and emergency rations, described his experience on the show as “very life-altering.”
Tan was asked to join the show owing to his survival and primitive living expertise.
During the preceding decade, he also served in the Canadian military and traveled extensively, where he was exposed to numerous indigenous populations and learned survival techniques.
“This was an opportunity for me to put all I’ve learned from the medical side, the survival side, and the spiritual side to the test. The journey was fantastic, and I learnt a great deal along the way. “I believe that for these and other reasons, it was a no-brainer to agree,” he stated.
The show, which has already been broadcast abroad, is currently airing on the History Channel on DStv.
Tan stated that he began preparing for the show approximately six months before to taping. He engaged in mental and physical preparation to give himself the greatest advantage in the wilderness.
“One advantage I had was my military training, where I learned through experience how to adapt and respond to failure because in survival situations, when you’re completely reliant on yourself for shelter, food, and sustenance, it’s bound to have a multitude of failures, so I think being adept at treating myself well and talking to myself with kindness is something I learned a great deal in the military and that was only reinforced through my medical practice.”
Physically, he stated that he had to gain weight to compensate for his incredibly high metabolism.
“Normally, if I don’t eat six meals per day, I lose weight, so it wasn’t just about being strong; it was also about gaining a lot of weight. I tried for six months and gained approximately 30 to 35 pounds (13 to 16 kg).”
Tan described the weather in Labrador as being really “wild.”
“Of all the places I’ve been, Labrador, and particularly the large river region, felt the most wild. I did not observe any manufactured items. It simply felt extremely antique.
“The rapidly changing weather was one of the greatest risks out there.” The morning could be sunny and the evening could be drenching. It could snow a little and then get warm again, so the shift in temperature was challenging.
He stated that it made it very difficult to hunt for food.
Speaking of his brush with polar bears, he stated, “I’m not going to give anything away, but I was afraid. Due to global warming, polar bears are venturing further south, so we had to take extra precautions, whether with bear spray or bear bangers.
“We also had to pay attention to what we ate, where we ate, and the direction of the wind while engaging in these activities. It was frightening. Under your tarp, there are bears that can rip you from your legs. “There are many stressors in the world,” remarked Tan.
After the show finished and Tan had to return to “regular life,” he reported having difficulty reintegrating into contemporary society.
“There were a few primary challenges I faced. The first was my fondness for food. My perspective on eating has shifted. It was tough for me to watch and indulge in large amounts of waste, and I continue to struggle with this.
“Additionally, I feel that my desire to interact with others has evolved. When you are out there, you not only develop deeper connections with yourself, but you also cherish the significant relationships in your life, and you question the type of relationships you desire.
Tan has also undergone tennis elbow rehabilitation as a result of an injury sustained on the show.
“Physical rehabilitation is another area in which I’ve invested effort. I believe it has been almost eight months. Certain injuries require time to heal, so this has been a lengthy process,” he stated.
He stated that “Alone” is for everyone who enjoys the outdoors or wants to observe a first-hand human experience.
“It’s 10 different people with various skill sets and experiences, so to witness that human experience without any gimmicks and self-recorded is quite valuable. It may give viewers a greater knowledge of their own situations and hopefully inspire them to get outside.”
“Alone: Polar Bear Island” airs on History Channel on Thursdays at 8:15 p.m. (DStv 186).