ani ashekian loved her family, loved adventure, and loved to travel the world. unfortunately, one of her many trips resulted in lingering mysteries instead of lifelong memories: why was it so last minute? why did she divert from her schedule? most importantly, where is ani?
background music: art of silence (version 2) by uniq:
on'y is chic in was the middle child in a family of three daughters a native of Windsor Ontario she worked as a self-employed paralegal in Toronto mainly working in traffic court she had an adventurous spirit and loved to travel the 30 year old had visited almost 30 different countries she preferred solo travel but made at least two international trips with others in 2008 in October she and her boyfriend Wendell Walsh went on a trip to Costa Rica Panama and Nicaragua almost immediately after her arrival home Annie decided to join two of her friends she knew through work on a trip to Asia at most there were only four days between when Annie decided to make this trip and when she left on it Annie was adventurous but not irresponsible she normally did a lot of research before traveling to a new country so this last-minute trip was surprising to her family Annie could be spontaneous but this 11th hour decision was unusual even for her Annie and her two friends arrived in Beijing on October 25th 2008 their plan was to explore the city together and then on ease to travel companions would continue on to Vietnam while Annie decided to travel to India instead their ani planned to spend several weeks on a yoga retreat and then return to Canada to spend Christmas with her family around 12:30 a.m. on October 30th Anees to travel companions heard her exiting their hotel room they did not think that's unusual at first Annie mainly traveled alone and was used to exploring cities by herself she had previously gone out exploring all night alone she may have also still been jet-lagged the middle of the night in Beijing is the middle of the day in Toronto what Anees friends did find troubling was her behavior later that morning tani returned to the hotel room while her friends were out for the day took a bath and gathered her belongings she then left the hotel room with everything she had brought with her on the trip she did not leave a note or in any way say goodbye to the two friends she had come on the trip with according to Annie's sister Rosie she was a free spirit who hated schedules she preferred traveling solo and did not like booking tours or group trips with sight in her Aires she theorizes that ani may have left without saying goodbye because she was struggling with making her plans around those of her two friends it is unknown exactly what on he did or where she stayed between October 30th and November 9th at some point she travelled from Beijing to the city of Xian most likely by train since there is no official record of her travel we only know that she was in Gion because she arrived in Hong Kong from Xian on November 9th on a dragon air flight again it is unknown where ani stayed while she was in Hong Kong witnesses would later report seeing her around Chungking mansions on November 10th Chungking mansions is one building that houses numerous shops and small hotels known for providing cheap accommodations for travelers while Hong Kong itself is generally safe and has a low crime rate this particular building does not have a great reputation there is nothing confirming that Ani actually was staying somewhere in the Chungking mansions however surveillance cameras in the Causeway Bay MTR station captured the last note images of Ani just after midnight on November 11th in the footage she is seen getting cash from an ATM two times she withdrew a total of 2800 Hong Kong dollars which is roughly equivalent to 358 US dollars were four hundred and seventy dollars Canadian she was alone in the footage and seemed relaxed although she did look over her shoulder a few times Anees family confirmed that it was her in the footage but asked that it not be released to the public because they were the last images they had of her some of the images were leaked to the South China Morning Post a year after they were taken and are available on YouTube but will not be reproduced here in order to respect the family's wishes at 8:30 a.m. on the 11th bonny sent the last communication she had with her family she sent her younger sister sassy a text message asking her to wish their two-year-old niece a happy birthday Annie had not used her email account since November 5th when she sent her last email it was common for Annie to go a few days without contacting anyone while she was traveling this did not usually concern her loved ones according to Ana's boyfriend Wendell she was a smart woman and an experienced traveler who knew how to take care of herself and take necessary precautions while abroad Wendell and saucy both emailed Ani after November 11th but never received responses to their messages their concerns grew over the next few weeks a major sign of trouble came and Ani failed to wish her other niece a happy birthday two weeks after she had sent her last text message to the family Annie's family assumed that she had been in contact with Wendell and Wendell assumed that she had been in contact with her family it was not until Wendell spoke with ahni's sister that they realized that no one had been in contact with Ani in almost three weeks since Annie went missing outside of the country of her citizenship and where her family was located reporting her missing was a complicated political affair her family first went to police in Canada who in turn had to contact the Foreign Affairs Department who then contacted Hong Kong police to report her missing on December 9th Annie's family has spoken highly of the police in Hong Kong and how seriously they have taken Anees disappearance immigration officials say that Ani never left Hong Kong however there is a small chance that ani may have circumvented the required checkpoints to leave the country by leaving it by boat since her trip to Asia was so last-minute Ani only had time to get a visa to enter China and planned to apply for the visa she would need to stay in India for an extended amount of time once she got to Asia however she never applied for or received this visa since she did not have the visa there was a remote hope that she was sticking to her plan and had found a way to travel from Hong Kong to India without having to go through customs at any point along the way Ani had purchased a plane ticket to return to Canada on December 15th on an Air Canada flight from New Delhi authorities were sent to the airport to see if Ani showed up to her scheduled flight they then had the task of notifying her family that she did not come to the airport or board her flight home Wendel Walsh traveled to Hong Kong just before Christmas to help search for Ani and meet with the police he was helped by a group of local volunteers and passing out flyers in the area where she went missing which advertised the reward for information about Ani that was being offered eventually Wendel had to return to Canada with no new information about his missing girlfriend Ana's younger sister saucey made similar trips in January and May of 2009 and similarly had no luck in finding Ani the volunteer efforts to spread the word about Ana's disappearance did generate some potential leads there were two unconfirmed sightings of Ani in Hong Kong long after she stopped communicating with her loved ones a 19 year old British student named Luke Pierce came forward claiming to have spoken with a woman who looked like Ani on December 2nd 2008 on Kingston Street in Causeway Bay the woman was lost and asked him for directions on how to get to a nearby IKEA he walked the woman one block over to make sure she saw where it was after she told him how frustrated she was having wandered around looking for the store all morning once the store came into view she told Luke that she had her bearings back the other potential sighting occurred a few weeks after Luke's interaction with the woman looking for IKEA a witness reported that he had met a woman who matched Donny's description and spoke with a Canadian accent in Wan Chai sometime around Christmas since Anees entire trip to Asia was unplanned and her diversions to Jian and then Hong Kong were made seemingly impulsively it is possible that she decided to abandon her plans to go to India and stay in Hong Kong through December however Hong Kong is an expensive city and there was no activity on honest bank accounts or credit card after the ATM withdrawals on November 11th the 2800 Hong Kong dollars she withdrew would probably not have lasted her until Christmas even if she stayed in the inexpensive hostels she was used to staying in while traveling months and then years went on without any sign of Ani or any of her belongings her family did not give up on her however her sisters continued making periodic trips to Hong Kong and opened social media accounts to help spread the word about Anees disappearance they did not immediately hire a private investigator because they were concerned that it would interfere with the official police investigation eventually they did hire one a retired police detective named Gojira to help search for Ani guy has been very open to the possibility that Ani voluntarily disappeared although he is still puzzled by how she could have done so without some sort of record on her bank records cellphone were passport guy spoke with the authorities in Hong Kong and asked them to formally look into the possibility that Ani had traveled by boat and therefore not left a trace with customs officials to Macau guy believed the search to be turned towards Macau because Ani spoke Portuguese as a former colony of Portugal Macau still maintains Portuguese as one of its official languages however only approximately 2% of the population actually speaks the language around the fourth anniversary of ahni's disappearance I persuaded the family to turn over Anees private journal that had been left in Canada guy then turned the journal over to a police psychologist because he was concerned about honesty of mind around the time she went missing guy claims that Ani was acting strangely because of the last-minute trip the fact that she had closed one of her bank accounts and her claims to her family that she was moving to Argentina and had a job lined up there she did not have the necessary visa to move to Argentina none of these details necessarily indicate that Ani was not well mentally however Annie's trip was more or less minute than her normal trips but was not entirely out of character whether her Asia trip was a sign of mental stress on her part is therefore up for debate given the fact that she was going on an extended trip it may well have been necessary for Ani to close one of her bank accounts to finance it guy seems to interpret Annie's plans to move to Argentina a strange behavior while she had not applied for a visa to make this move her Asia trip and like a visa for India show that it was not out of character for her to deal with these bureaucratic details at the last possible minute the move was not some sort of fantasy she tried to parade as real but a plan she had been discussing and working out the details of for some time she had traveled to Argentina earlier in 2008 so she had the opportunity to make an informed decision to move there and potentially meet contacts that helped her find a job she was planning to move in January of 2009 and she and her boyfriend had been discussing the possibility of him coming with her since she owned her own business she had the ability to make such a move without giving notice to an employer more than a decade has passed since Annie went missing with no activity on her cellphone her financial accounts or her passport none of her belongings have ever turned up even if she could have somehow managed to make herself vanish if so thoroughly her family does not believe that she would have abandoned the close relationships she had with them they continue to hold out hope that one day honey will come home