Travelfish long-time regulars may remember the threads back in 2006 when Ryan Chicovsky went missing in Xieng Kok in northwest Laos. This morning I stumbled upon the website his family set up and found not only are they still looking for him, they have added quite a few more photos.
So, if you were travelling in Laos in early 2006, take a look -- perhaps they'll ring some bells.
Given some of Ryan's clothing and gear were found, the outlook doesn't sound too promising, but, if you were in the area (or know someone who was) please do take a look at the website here.
#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,770
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Strange a body never turned up. Since it appears he disappeared in the evening - sounds like a robbery or something that went bad. Most people don't go hiking in places where you would have an accident and not be found at night. Possible, but seems unlikely. Sad case, tough for a family to lose a kid like that - never know his fate, always some nagging doubt he might still be alive out there.
He didn't wander into no jungle though. And his camera was subsequently found. Nope, he ran into the wrong folks at the wrong time. No doubt in my military mind about that. And someone in that town knows the deal, they just aren't talking.
Ryan's mom went back to Xiengkok in 2012 most recently if I'm remembering correctly. She garners extra notice from the powers that be when she does travel there, I think the locals main concerns are to have no incidents or issues that could in any way bring interest from the central government.
Both the local governments as well as the major traditional illicit industry are all of the nonviolent quiet type, I doubt Ryan ran afoul of them. More than likely bad luck, wrong place, wrong time. There are sleazy characters in the area if not officially connected. Across the river is one of those stateless areas of Burma where the markets sell endangered species openly and the central govt. hasn't had a presence in decades.
Methamphetamine production and use has brought in more violent less responsible gangs (across the river). It was downriver of here that the Chinese freighter was pirated and crew executed a year or more ago. Kind of a sham trial of supposed drug kingpin from across the river for the piracy, complete with public execution via TV for the Chinese populace to observe. At the same time the gaudy casino upriver from Huay Xai abruptly closed doors.
It's been 4 years since I've been up there. It's a very quiet area.
I was up that way a little over a year ago. Down river from Xieng Kok there were guys on the edge of the river on the Lao side with guns. Not sure what the go with them was. They looked military, but they were in an area with seemingly no road access. Also, no speed boat drivers would take me up river -- kept giving the universal signal of machine gun fire. So obviously there is some bad **** happening on the river right now and I suppose it's possible it was happening back then too.
Not really. Lots of people go missing.
#12 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412
There are missing persons from the 60s, 70s, 80s and no bodies were found.
#14 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412
They do, but not this time. A white boy would stand out out there. Hard to imagine he just wandered off into a village and stayed there without anyone saying anything to anyone. That's a dicey neighborhood as well. No, someone killed him. I'd bet money on it.
Sad to here. I have been in this area one time and yes, there is lots of space to get lost.
But that incident somehow reminds me on a few accidents I came along in my job. People become missing and all you find is a shirt, shoes, a phone and maybe a wallet on the river bank. Turned out they went for a swim in the river and got caught by the current. Even in densly populated areas the bodies only turn up after several weeks, miles away from were they entered the river.
So yes, that is really a rural landscape, there are bad people around, rivers are dangerous and accidents do happen. Luang Prabang is fine, but I would not like to travel alone upstream of Huay Xai. Although I did not know about this when I traveled there, I must admit that I did not feel really safe.
Still keep my fingers crossed that one day the family will know what happened.
Hi Mad Mac,
I met Ryan's mum in a restaurant in Luang Namtha last year. She's been coming every year to visit Xieng Kok with the hope of finding out what happened and hoping to see her son again. This morning (a year later) I think I saw her again but was not sure and did not have a chance to talk with her and check if it was her or not. I revisited the blogspot you linked to above. I was reminded that some local people probably know something. Ryan's mum told me that she had once hired a private investigator. I assume he was an American, in which case I would not expect the locals to reveal anything. I would like to ask her if she has tried hiring a Lao person to go live there for a couple of months, perhaps longer, to get to know some of the local people without asking any questions about Ryan. Perhaps someone with a genuine interest in orchids who could actually spend time gathering information on the local orchids and thereby not create any suspicions. That way they may eventually hear something. I might be able to find such a person. So a short while ago, I tried emailing one of the addresses at the blogspot and it bounced back. Ryan's mum did give me a name card, but I don't have it with me. I'll try to find it when I am back home again. If anyone reading this has a contact, please share it with me in case I can't find the name card.
#18 junglebiker has been a member since 11/10/2015. Posts: 1