Not long after, Cẩm was at her grandmother’s house with her mother, a few villages over from their own, when she logged on to Facebook to see if there was any news from Long.
Instead, she had a friend request and message from his younger brother Bình, asking if she was in Sapa.
“I’m coming up there and don’t really know my way around, are you free to meet up? They’d never met before, but she arranged for him to come and pick her up.
Long’s brother had brought a friend as well, and they stopped to collect Cẩm’s best friend, too.
An older man emerged from the trees and grabbed the phone. “You’re already in China – you can’t go home now,” he snarled.
“I hope you’re ready to get married, because that’s what you’re going to be.” Human trafficking has a history in Sapa, where thick jungle, slate-coloured rivers and mountainous terrain have allowed people to disappear quickly and at random for years.
And then she jumped on to her motorbike and set out to find him, alone.
With close to 5,000 Facebook friends, she was used to boys getting in touch.By 14, she’d dropped out of school to help support her family, and had taken a job at a hotel in Sapa town, a former French hill station now crowded with tourists exploring the nearby mountains.By 15, she’d logged on to Facebook for the first time, escaping online to chat with friends and flirt with boys.A street sign in Chinese characters came into view, and the bike stopped.Panicking, she dug into her pockets for her mobile phone and started screaming as fast as she could to her sister that she’d been trafficked, she was somewhere on the border with China.