Thanks to everyone who has written to me about my recent foray to Yunnan. Over the coming weeks I hope to regularly post my reflections and material from this trip. As always, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

I will start with the border.

In small towns dotted along the Sino-Burmese frontier, the line between the countries comes alive. It is here that the unsettled conditions of the Kachin and Shan State’s uneasy ceasefires rub against the considerable might and security of the People’s Republic of China. The border is long and its checkpoints are many.

For thousands of people who live in its vicinity, crossing the border between China and Burma is a part of daily life and livelihood. Many cross officially. Some don’t.

A Sino-Burmese border hop

This photo, snapped in a small border settlement in southwest Yunnan, shows just how easily some parts of this border can be negotiated. The official border point – staffed by soldiers and marked by bollards – is about 100 metres south of where this photo was taken. For context, I am standing in China, and the women in orange are crossing from Burma.

And…yes, the border fence is as flimsy as it looks.