PHUKET: Back in 2008, Phuketwan reporters travelled north to Ranong to see with our own eyes the young Burmese who emerged alive from a ''death truck'' that was heading for Phuket.
One-hundred-and-twenty-one of them set out to ride inside a refrigerated container truck from Ranong, a port on the Burma-Thai border, to Phuket.
There was no air supply. When the truck was eventually opened by the astonished driver, 54 of them were dead. It must have been horrific.
The survivors? They were dealt with by a court in Ranong for being illegal immigrants, seved time in jail, then packed off to Burma once their sentences had been completed.
Phuketwan interviewed the Governor of Ranong and she made a special plea to the Burmese authorities to treat the survivors leniently.
Going back down the highway to Phuket, we stopped off at the spot on the road where the container was still being kept at the local police station.
Night was falling, but the police at the station opened the back door of the truck for us. It was a spooky experience.
We've seen some grim sights before and since, but this was like looking into . . . Hell.
The policeman in charge of the station provided us with photographs, taken immediately after the doors had been opened.
We've never looked at them.
In the yard were other vehicles impounded because they had been apprehended carrying Burmese illegally. Some of them were ingenious, holes under what appeared to be full loads on pickups.
It was our first encounter with the experience of illegal Burmese, migrating south to Phuket, full of hopes and dreams of a better life.
In the yard at Immigration in Ranong, we saw other arrested people being herded onto trucks, to be transported back across the estuary . . . or perhaps, we now know, handed over to people traffickers.
For us, it was revealing, and life-changing. Instead of being journalists in a comfortable office on Phuket, recycling news agency copy about events on Phuket's doorstep, we made the trip for ourselves.
A few months later, we made another trip north, to find the secret island where the Rohingya boatpeople were being held by the Thai military.
Our lives changed forever by those trips that turned us from copy editors behind desks on Phuket into investigative reporters.
Four years on, it's good to hear via the news agency reports that justice has been done, that four people have been sent to jail for their involvement in the shocking crime.
What would be even more heartening is if a few more copy editors on Phuket ceased recycling news agency copy and took to the road north to see for themselves.