Highlight of the Year: Open Mogok
Posted on December 20 2018
"Ko Lay, can we go to Mogok by the new road? It's much more beautiful!”
“Cannot. They check all cars.”
“But last time we laid down and nobody saw us.”
“Yes, but this time they check every car inside. No foreigners allowed."
No foreigners. No permission. No entry.
This is Mogok, the sacred Ruby Land. Infamous for its fights and local collisions. Inaccessible and permanently closed for foreigners. Very rarely the window to Mogok opens up and you have a chance to flutter in, in theory.
How lucky should one be to get here for real?
With Vlad Yavorskyy leading our team, we must be the luckiest people ever. The way he's accumulated not only gemstones - but gem people - this is how we managed to travel to Mogok again, after a 2-year break. The Burmese friends organized it all as smoothly as they could, but Burma wouldn't be itself without enigmatic twists and turns.
"Are you dizzy?" - Kocho Too asks me as we finally stop at that legendary sign Welcome to Ruby Land.
Oh yes, after 3 hours non-stop mountain serpantine, not to mention another 4 hours of dusty bumpy roads, we all must be crazy dizzy.
The sun is just about to set, and the scenery cannot get any more breathtaking.
Trading Gemstones overlooking the Mogok Lake
"So which mine is open tomorrow? Can do four-feet mine?"
"No four-feet mine is working in Pain Pyit now."
"How about Mansin?"
"So where do we go Ko Lay?"
"There’s only one mine near Pyan Gyy but cannot go inside, very dangerous. This mining is illegal."
Dangerous. Illegal. Cannot.
How many times he heard all of those warnings. Vlad Yavorskyy has travelled the globe in search for colored rocks, and every single time in every single country it was impossible for ordinary people even to step onto the mining land. How many times he stepped beyond all these barriers? Every time.
As we drive to the mine on a hot afternoon, we keep our windows closed and air condition on. Ko Lay says though:
"Please open the window because they think we’re military: 3 cars, all buttoned up in dark... very suspicious."
Finally we get to one prolific Spinel and Sapphire mine, a vast ginger-colored terrain spotted in mining pits. That very concept of artisanal four-feet mining keeps the flicker of romance burning in a true gem hunter’s heart. The weather is bright and dry, and we get lost photographing the frolic mining activity.
The clock strikes 2pm and we realize we haven’t had lunch and there’s no way we get back on the road sooner than another two hours. So we sit in one of the huts before the working area, and the host treat us with freshly boiled eggs and local pastries. We ask if the miners eat same eggs themselves, and the answer is surprising.
The miners never take eggs or peanuts to eat on the mine: they believe it’s bad luck.
A team of Burma-loving gem enthusiasts is always good luck though.(Video)
The blessing of seeing Mogok with your own eyes is pricesless.
Seeing it with Yavorskyy’s eyes is actually invaluable, too. So we invite you to share our thrill through photographs and vibrant motion pictures recorded at this hallmark journey. Mogok December 2018
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