"Ever since I was a little girl I had dreamed of going to Myanmar’s famed ruby mines of Mogok," writes correspondent Hla Hla Htay.
"My father was a gems dealer and I would spend hours watching him cut and polish the raw stones until they sparkled. Yet however much I nagged, he always refused to teach me the trade.
"Gems are a dangerous business," he would warn. "Once you know their secrets you will never escape them."
So when I -- all grown up and a journalist -- got a chance to visit the secretive mines hidden in the valley north of Mandalay, I jumped at it."