And then she jumped on to her motorbike and set out to find him, alone.
Cẩm was born in 2000, the third of seven children in an ethnic Black H’mong family.
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.
They would send a friend request, then ask where she went to school, or if she had any recommendations for a visitor to Sapa.
She saw Facebook as a sort of online dating website; nearly everyone she chatted to was also H’mong, and it allowed everyone to come together, even if they were from harder-to-reach villages.
It was the bouncing that finally woke her up: they were hurtling down a lone dirt road in a thick forest.
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.
The H’mong make up a huge, cross-border ethnic group, and live primarily in the mountains stretching from China through Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Identity stems not necessarily from the nation of their birth, but the ethnicity of their clan – be that Black H’mong, Flower H’mong or White H’mong.When he wasn’t drinking, her father farmed, and her mother dyed and embroidered the family’s traditional indigo dress: thick, pleated skirts or trousers, paired with long jackets, colourful belts and heavy silver necklaces.