Soldiers of Fortune

We reach Gawng Lang village at dusk. At first, the only signs of life are the smoke of cooking fires seeping through thatched roofs and the muffled clatter of food being prepared. Then we notice the children. Half-naked, their bellies bloated by malnutrition, they watch from beneath the stilt houses with dumbstruck curiosity. Soon the women emerge, dressed in handwoven black smocks and gripping slender, silver pipes between their teeth. They stare and giggle at us, waiting for their husbands, uncles and brothers to arrive. Wearing ragged military fatigues, the men, when they finally materialize, seem without exception to be among...

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