Kid­napped vic­tim Gao is a sea­soned trav­eler ABU SAYYAF

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD - By ZHANG YUNBI in Bei­jing and WANG HONGYI in Shang­hai

Gao Huayun, a 29-year-old tourist from Shang­hai, chose Sem­porna as her des­ti­na­tion in Malaysia, a coun­try cur­rently not so pop­u­lar among Chi­nese tourists that it is of­ten not even listed in group pack­ages of China-based travel agencies.

Gao’s fam­ily was stunned when news re­ports con­firmed that she and a Philip­pine re­sort worker had been ab­ducted by a group of armed men from Pu­lau Sin­gah­mata, near Pu­lau Bum-Bum in Sem­porna, in the Malaysian state of Sabah, late on Wed­nes­day night.

An in­vi­ta­tion from a Bri­tish univer­sity to join its MBA pro­gram had just been de­liv­ered to Gao’s home back in Shang­hai, lo­cal me­dia said.

A 2007 grad­u­ate of Univer­sity of Shang­hai for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, she scored ex­cel­lent grades in her school


years. For a while, she worked at a Ja­panese busi­ness and was praised as “a good em­ployee”.

Mean­while, her love for travel and ex­u­ber­ance for life was ev­i­dent in her blogs, posted on her Q-Zone ac­count, a pop­u­lar so­cial net­work in China.

The scenic Daming Moun­tain in south­ern China’s Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion — more than 1,500 kilo­me­ters from Shang­hai — was her choice for cel­e­brat­ing grad­u­a­tion. Then she toured Hainan, then Hong Kong and, fi­nally, Bo­ra­cay Is­land in the Philip­pines.

She was a sea­soned trav­eler. She made her own ar­range­ments to get to re­mote Sem­porna, a re­mote district on Sabah’s east­ern side.This trip was planned a long time ago. Gao even reg­is­tered for a div­ing course.

She booked her flight through AirAsia and made her own ho­tel reser­va­tions. Her visa was is­sued with the help of Ctrip, a leading on­line travel agency and web­site.

The agency has no ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about her Chi­nese com­pan­ions.

Gao is be­lieved to have sent text mes­sages to her mother on Wed­nes­day night, telling her par­ents ev­ery­thing was OK, ac­cord­ing to re­ports from Shang­hai on Thurs­day.

Shortly af­ter­ward, she was seized by the armed kid­nap­pers. Her com­pan­ion was in the bath­room wash­ing her hair at the time, Gao’s un­cle told China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion.

Af­ter she was done, the class­mate found the door of the room open. Gao was gone.

Gao’s fa­ther con­tacted Ra­dio Shang­hai on Thurs­day morn­ing for help, and the sta­tion posted the plea on its of­fi­cial Sina Weibo ac­count with­out giv­ing the fa­ther’s name. Con­tact the writ­ers at zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily. and wanghongyi@ chi­


A Chi­nese tourist and Filipino worker were kid­napped from the Sem­porna re­sort ho­tel, near Pu­lau Bum-Bum in Sem­porna, in the Malaysian state of Sabah, on Wed­nes­day evening. The kid­nap­pers are be­lieved to be in Philip­pine wa­ters, po­lice said on Thurs­day.

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