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Myanmar's 'Valley of the Rubies' emerges from shadows

Secretive mining town celebrates 800th anniversary as it reaches out to tourists

About 3,000 monks circled Mogok Lake to collect alms during the town's 800th anniversary celebrations. (Photo by Leo Jackson)

MOGOK, Myanmar -- When the world hears about Mogok, it usually concerns some hefty ruby unearthed in the region and auctioned for millions of dollars -- the kind of discovery that has dominated news about the remote gem-mining town for decades. But with gnawing anxieties over dwindling gem deposits, locals are turning to a promising new source of revenue.

Tourism presents the best opportunity for many in the "Valley of the Rubies," as the town is known. Visitors can explore its bustling gem markets, pagoda-clad hilltops, surrounding ethnic villages and some open mines, as well as sample the regionally praised Shan and Chinese fare.

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