After the night passed, and nearly a full day in all, a truck arrived with Thai soldiers who identified themselves as Camp NW9 personnel. They climbed aboard and traveled another hour until they stopped toward evening outside a line of berms and trenches that surrounded several mat-sided, tin-roofed huts. People were milling around, feeding several evening fires and lighting torches. Single palm trees, saved from the clearing operation, gave the scene the look of an out-of-place beach. The residents seemed to be celebrating, talking loudly, sometimes singing. Stacks of rice bags and other boxes of food supplies sat under an open-sided roofed shelter.
Phuong and Long at first believed that this must be a wonderful place where people celebrated late into the evening instead of facing the sunset curfew which they had come to expect. The camp appeared to be a paradise compared to where they had been. When they began to wonder whether anyone knew they were there, the coordinator arrived. He welcomed them to Camp NW9, that had just opened last May, and he explained that this was Christmas Eve, 1980. They were celebrating Christmas, and singing Christmas carols, since several of the refugees and some of the staff were Roman Catholic.
The residents welcomed Phuong and Long to their Christmas celebration. They learned that Camp NW9 sat about six kilometers from Nong Chan. Just about all of the refugees there were from Vietnam. Most had walked across Cambodia.
Sure enough, after Christmas the curfew returned regularly as the sun went down, so residents had to stay near their huts, walk away only to visit the latrine, and stay off of the main paths. Everyone returned to the routine that included an early morning awakening to the distant sound of artillery shells. Every refugee took the metal cooking oil container that had been assigned to them to get the four liters of water that was their allotment. They had that much and no more for any purpose for which they needed water. Everyone had a paper pass with their hut number on it, and a record was made each time a person received a water ration. Volunteers among the refugees prepared the rice and canned sardine allotments into the meals served each day at noon and early evening. Sometimes the workers served soup, made of a few bean sprouts, lettuce of some kind, and water. There was no variety in the food available unless someone managed to trap a jungle rat or trade for a chicken. Long helped to clean the rats or other animals that men trapped, and he developed some skill in doing it, but while he was there, other volunteers did the cooking.