The pro-democracy protests in Myanmar have taken on an the air of a cat and mouse game. They appear out of nowhere, explode into chanting and banner waving then, as the troops move in, they vanish. The demonstration began on a street corner just south of Yangon's main Sule Paya Road. Pedestrians gathered, pretending to wait for buses, or just to sit and smoke and chat. Then, suddenly, when the troops are out of sight for a moment, it begins. A skinny male student, no more than 20 years old, dressed in a red longyi, white shirt and scarlet headband, steps into the empty road, raises his arms and begins screaming: 'Free Burma! Bring in the UN! Free Aung San Suu Kyi.' Two or three more students join him. And suddenly, everyone steps into the middle of the road. Many are wearing blue surgical masks to hide their identities and protect against tear gas. In a less then a minute, where there had been a dozy, empty street, there are now almost 200 people shouting and chanting. We begin to march down the street and are joined by another group of protesters. Soon our number has trebled. Cardboard banners are unfolded: 'Release Our Monks. Freedom.' A picture of Aung San, the father of Ms Suu Kyi, is raised high. The demonstration is gaining momentum. Fists punch the air. The chanting gets louder. Loosely, it translates as: 'The people's soldiers do not kill the people.' Suddenly, the atmosphere changes. Ahead of us, two army trucks have pulled up and decanted red-scarfed troops. They are standing in a line across the road. I count maybe 30 riot shields and figure their lines are three deep. We stop. The troops ahead are motionless. Then the first two shots: much louder than I imagined, and I realise that troops are also spilling out of a side street just ahead of us. More shots. Screaming. The crowd of protesters is now rushing for safety. Someone is on the ground. Another shot rings out. This time it is really close and I see I have already left it very late. I turn and run back down the street. I am with a pack of students and there is just 20 metres between the soldiers and us. We turn left, down a side street. I see a staircase and - hoping the troops behind us haven't yet turned the corner - I tear up it. Then I hit something soft. 'Ssssh', comes a voice. A hand pulls me back into the furthest corner of the landing and down on to the floor. There are four of us, huddled on a landing at the top of the stairway, hearts beating. We shuffle down as low as we can. A soldier looks up the staircase, then turns away. 'Hello,' says a voice. 'I'm Phillip, we should try to hide better.' He starts to knock softly on the three doors that lead on to the landing. A door opens and we spill through it into a Burmese home. It takes a moment to adjust. A middle aged Burmese man wearing a longyi is holding the door. An elderly woman is lying on a sofa and there are two children playing. The man gestures politely to a sofa. Phillip and the two other students on the staircase sit me down. Philip is 20, tall, skinny and - considering that a close friend of his was killed by troops last Tuesday - he is amazingly relaxed. 'I study economics at Rangoon University,' he tells me. 'I have been running from soldiers all week. This is the sixth or seventh time I have taken refuge in someone's home. We are never refused. 'The army is destroying our culture and religion and economy. The only people who support the army are the army. And even some of them understand that the situation is out of their control. It is falling apart.' Fifteen minutes later, we step back on to the streets. The protesters and soldiers have moved on. All that remains of the protest are a few orphaned flip flops and some blood on a kerb stone.