In torrential rain, we drove in convoy, through Myanmar’s monsoon-lashed state of northern Rakhine.
It is from here last August that hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled a brutal campaign of rape and violence.
Few foreigners are now allowed to visit this area, but we are on an official tour because Myanmar’s government wants to show us it is now safe for refugees to return.
The first scheduled stop is several hours drive away but our route passes the former villages the military is accused of destroying.
As I stare out of the car window, it is the emptiness that strikes me first.
Before last August, the emerald fields would have been tended by some of the 700,000 Rohingya who are now in camps in Bangladesh.
Almost a year on, they are mainly deserted.
On the side of a river are abandoned fishing boats.
Once they would have been filled with the day’s catch, now weeds grow in their bases, their owners are gone.
Disfigured trees and charred stumps flash past our windows.
I ask Win Nang San, the local government official in our car, where the former inhabitants went.
“They fled away,” he replies.
“And that was the Rohingya?”
“Muslims,” he confirms.
“How many would have fled?” I ask.
“The entire village, about three to four thousand.”
When I ask what he thinks they were running from, the answers dry up.
With the trace of a smile, I’m told “no comment” and the conversation is over.
The further north towards the town of Maungdaw we travel, the more frequent the signs of burning become.
Officials do not want us to focus on the scarred grounds and my requests to stop the car are repeatedly refused.
But as we pass an area with very visible fire damage I manage to get out of the car.
My cameraman Pete and I quickly run to the first plot to investigate what we can before we are rounded up.
Weeds have begun to grow but they cannot hide the thick, flame-blackened wooden poles in front of us or the scorched marks on the ground.
All along the road are the charred remains of buildings.
In some of the plots we see clearer signs of human life; rusted pots, broken cooking equipment, the remains of an oil lamp and twisted metal boxes that we are told were used to keep valuables safe.
Research on my return using resources and maps gathered by Human Rights Watch suggests one of the areas we visited was burned around mid-September 2017.
Refugees say this type of damage is proof the military torched their homes and murdered their families in revenge for attacks by Rohingya insurgents last year.
Back in the car, the official line is different.
“They burned their houses and their farms by themselves,” I am told.
When I ask why they would do that, that it does not make sense, I am told I should ask the Rohingya themselves.
The accusation has been widely rejected by the international community but at nearby government built village it is repeated as gospel by a Mro leader.
He tells me Muslim terrorists murdered eight of their community last August and the Rohingya refugees would not be welcome back.
Other villagers show me pictures on their phones of a man covered in blood, lying dead on a concrete floor.
They say he was a teacher, stabbed by terrorist students.
I cannot verify their accounts, but their deep resentment of the Rohingya is undeniable.
Itis a feeling that is echoed by almost everyone we meet on this closely controlled government tour.
Some refuse to call them Rohingya and instead use the word Bengali, implying they have no stake in Myanmar; others go further, referring to them by the racist term “Kalar”.
Despite these signs of resentment, the government insists it is safe for Rohingya refugees to return.
We are shown two new repatriation centres which we are told are waiting to welcome them back.
At the first, lines of dark hunts stand empty, surrounded by barbed wire fences.
At the second, officials proudly show us stacks of forms ready to be filled in, state of the art immigration processing equipment and a newly stocked medical centre.
But all of it is unused, the Rohingya have not come back.
Officials seem both baffled and frustrated by this, suggesting it is possibly because they’re “enjoying” all the support and attention they are getting in Bangladesh’s sprawling refugee camps.
Having visited Cox’s Bazar, where aid agencies are warning around a million residents of the risks of death by landslide and disease during the miserable monsoon period, it seems an unlikely theory.
As we drive closer to the Bangladesh border, the alleged benefits of living in a refugee camp become even less apparent.
In front of us, in a flooded piece of land, armed police look down on rows of sad tents surrounded by a high metal fence.
Behind the wire we see refugees walking in lines in the pouring rain, seemingly trapped in their mud and metal cage.
The depressing settlement is in “no man’s land,” the estimated 6,000 inhabitants are living in limbo between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
We are told we have 15 minutes to film here and immediately clamber down the sodden slope to the fence, shouting to those on the other side to see if anyone speaks English.
The camp spokesman, Dil Mohammad, tells us their homes are badly flooded, that aid is restricted and people are sick.
Our view is limited but later he sends me pictures of the damage – the houses are inundated, anyone living in them would be sleeping in water.
But even faced with the bleak conditions, the lack of freedom and the months of monsoon ahead they are not willing to take their chances in Myanmar again.
“It’s not safe yet,” Dil Mohammad tells me – and it is difficult to disagree.
The facilities for repatriation may be ready, but most of the people we met still view the Rohingya as the enemy.
Until their freedom and safety can be guaranteed, no refugees will return here.