PHUKET: The 100 or so Rohingya men and boys who washed up on a Phuket beach this morning reached out for food and water, delivered by Phuket police and some generous Phuket women.
It was clear they were thirsty and hungry after 12 days at sea, packed tight in a pathetically small open boat.
Once described by a Burmese diplomat as ''looking like ogres,'' up close the boatpeople turn out to be precisely what they are: normal people whose lives are tormented and miserable for no good reason.
Over the course of the morning, with the waves destroying their vessel in the shallows at Nai Harn beach on Phuket's southern coast, Phuket's newly arrived Rohingya were rounded up.
Some of them are barefoot. Some are dressed in rags. All of them have nothing.
The irony is that while the boatpeople are among the most deprived and oppressed people in the world, Phuket remains a holiday haven for the world's well-off and rich.
Spectacularly luxurious cruisers and speedboats crisscross these same waters. Just a couple of weeks back, the $300 million plaything of a Russian billionaire headed towards Burma from Phuket on a no-doubt pleasurable voyage.
Heading south at the same time are hundreds of Rohingya, some too young to be risking their lives. Three 13-year-old boys were among the group apprehended on Phuket today, along with a 14-year-old.
And their vessel? Made of timber, it was quickly breaking up at Nai Harn beach as tourists looked on. How do so many people manage to squeeze into such a small vessel, and survive?
The answer is, they don't always. For every three boats that make it to Thailand or Malaysia, at least one capsizes. Can the Rohingya who came ashore on Phuket today all swim? We didn't get the chance to ask.
People with attitudes like that of the Burmese diplomat are now presenting themselves to the world as changed people. They are no longer dictators, not even generals. The world is suitably impressed.
Yet in Burma, nothing has changed for the Rohingya. Stateless, denied citizenship even if they and their parents were born in Burma, there is no prospect of a return for these men.
We watched them being processed, their names taken and forms filled in both at Chalong Police Station and in Phuket City, at the Immigration offices where home will temporarily be a rudimentary cell.
The cell is too small to hold more than about 35 or 40 prisoners, and even that number crowds captivity beyond a few days.
When the last Rohingya vessel landed on Phuket about a year ago, the occupants - about 65 men and boys - were split between Phuket and Phang Nga Immigration centres.
To this day, what eventually happened to them remains a mystery. We saw the prisoners on a security camera at Immigration once, praying, as good Muslims do, despite their primitive surroundings.
After a few months, the Phuket cells returned to being empty. Where did they go? Where will the latest captive men and boys go?
There is no space in detention cells in Thailand for the hundreds of Rohingya who continue to sail south, despite the risks.
The likelihood is that these men and boys, even though they number about 100, will simply vanish one day. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a couple of weeks or months.
They will either be trucked north to the border with Burma, and tacitly handed over to people smugglers there, or taken south for a similar assignation close to the Thai-Malaysia border.
Even as that happens, other Rohingya will be preparing to stake their lives on voyages in boats that are barely capable of staying afloat.
Such is the lot of the Rohingya, the ''ogres'' of the new, acceptable Burma. Isn't it about time the world woke up?