Hoang Hong Tham thought she was going to China for a holiday with a family friend.
Instead, the Vietnamese teenager was sold off in late 1999 to a Chinese farmer to be his bride. It was the beginning of a nightmare for a young woman who didn't know the man's language, culture and was unable to contact her family.
Tham, now 23, is among thousands of Vietnamese trafficked into China in recent years, a lucrative trade driven in part by a shortage of women in China but also by the promise of jobs and a better life.
Her parents found her months later and tricked the husband into letting her make a visit to a sick relative -- but only after paying a small fortune as a deposit. She is among the few to have escaped and still shudders whenever she recounts her experience.
"In October 1999 my adopted mother invited me to China for sightseeing. After a week she and a man sold me off," Tham told reporters at her parents' house, a 20-minute drive from the border with China.
The two countries, historical enemies for thousands of years, have been jointly battling people trafficking since 2001.
UN children's agency UNICEF in China says 141 Vietnamese girls were rescued and repatriated from China's Dong Xing town in 2002, up from 15 in 2001.
Of the 33 traffickers arrested last year, 22 were from Vietnam, up from seven arrests in 2001.
Authorities in Dong Xing have teamed up with counterparts in the Vietnamese border town of Mong Cai where Tham lives to support the anti-human trafficking campaign, UNICEF said.
The trade in Vietnamese women is driven largely by the tens of millions of bachelors in China, usually farmers unable to find brides. Boys are prized because of a gender imbalance in China caused by a decades-old one-child policy.
Tham was sold off to a Chinese farmer who lived with his brothers and their wives.
A slightly built woman with dark complexion, Tham had no idea where she was taken, only that it was a one-day drive to the remote mountainous village dotted with a few houses.
"Because I was not familiar with things there, life was so miserable," she said. "I could not speak the language, could not understand it."
Her husband, a cassava farmer aged 28, berated her for being unable to speak the language.
Tham's parents gave the Chinese family 4 million dong (US$255) to release her on the pretext of visiting a sick relative. It was a princely sum in a country where the average per capita annual income is a little more than US$400.
"Seeing her I felt like I was resurrected, like I caught a piece of gold," said Tham's mother, now 43, recalling the moment she saw her only daughter in late February 2000.
Some Vietnamese girls, however, volunteer to be trafficked not knowing the risks they take. Seeking an escape from poverty, many are lured into China by fake promises of jobs or good marriages.
Vietnam says it has prosecuted more than 30,000 people in the past five years on the charges of trafficking women and children, with some jailed for up to 20 years.
Mehr Khan, the UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and Pacific, said more children were trafficked in Asia than anywhere else in the world.
"The people who are trafficked are usually the poorest people who are looking for a better job, better opportunity and they don't start off knowing that they are to be trafficked," she said.