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Reporters on the Job

Crossing into Burma: Correspondent Daniel Pepper's trip to visit a refugee camp in Burma began with a seven-hour, off-road drive through one of Thailand's national parks. "Then two local men, who spoke no English, took me on a hike over series of steep mountains in the afternoon heat and intense humidity. The idea was to rendezvous with a boat on the Salween river – the border between Burma and Thailand – that would ferry me to the other side, to the refugee camp," he says.

Daniel and his guides arrived at the designated spot at 5 p.m. The rendezvous time was 7 p.m., just after sunset. By 10 p.m. no one had arrived. "My two guides decided to walk up the river to see if the boat was waiting for us elsewhere. I followed. The trail under the jungle canopy was indistinguishable from the surrounding darkness. We did not seem to know where we were going, and I was reconciling myself with the idea of sleeping on the trail.

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"Finally around midnight, as we were hacking our way through the bush, an older couple answered our calls. They welcomed us into their raised teak wood home, where a few men were staying.

"After about 15 minutes of pleasantries, one of the men in the house told me to follow him. He was the man with the boat who was supposed to take me to the refugee camp. Where had he been? If he spoke a word of English I would have asked, but instead just gratefully got into his small boat and enjoyed the 20-minute ride. On the other side, I was greeted by a camp leader, who kindly offered a plate of rice and a bamboo matt for the night."

David Clark Scott
World editor