Four Thai customs agents in a gunmetal-gray speedboat slowly circle a decrepit fishing vessel, its huge white hull streaked with filth and rust.
Anchored a mile off this resort island's southern coast, it towers over them like a ghost ship. A man in sunglasses appears behind the bridge's windows. The government agents squint to make him out.
The government has forbidden the 625-ton boat to set sail, but it has also ordered the agents not to board. So they continue to circle — and stare.
"We can't figure out where the Kunlun came from," Phuket customs chief Charoen Chamniklang says later.
What they can figure out is that the Kunlun — one of many names...