The best way to visit Burmah is to travel by rail from Rangoon to Mandalay, the whole journey now being made in about twenty-four hours. And then, if time permits, proceed to Bhamó by river steamer. If the famous Ruby-Mine Mountains are desired to be visited, the traveller should land at Khanyat, and procure ponies there for the journey up the mountains, some of which are over six thousand feet high. But this is a long and hard trip at present, and the Ruby Mines have lost much of their romance, since they don't produce rubies, or only very few.
Some years ago, the well-known London jeweller, Mr. Streeter (or rather the then Mr. Streeter's son, who is now, I think, Mr. Streeter himself), was with me on the Irrawaddy on his way to the Ruby Mines, before they were rented from the Government of India by a syndicate, of which the Streeters were the principal partners. Our ship, called the 'Amherst,' went on a sandbank and stuck there three days, possibly in order to prevent Mr. Streeter from taking over such a ticklish concern. Mr. Streeter, however, did not read the warning in the proper light, and a little later on he and I were taken off the 'Amherst,' and were landed at Khanyat, whence Mr. Streeter proceeded to the Ruby Mines. The consequence was that the said syndicate rented the Ruby Mines from the Government at a yearly rental of four lakhs of rupees, a sum that at that time represented 30,000l. a year! Hitherto, however, the undertaking has proved a disastrous failure, though some cheery prophets say that there are better times coming.
But whether the traveller visits Bhamó and the Ruby Mines or not, he should invariably come down the river from Mandalay in one of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company's steamers, all the way to Rangoon, or at any rate to Prome, as the Irrawaddy is a particularly beautiful river, more especially along some of its higher reaches; though, unfortunately, in the tourist season the river is at its lowest mark, with its banks sometimes so high above the level of the water as to interfere with the general view of the surrounding country. Burmah of course is particularly the land of pagodas, for wherever you go you come across them, and to the stranger their white-sepulchre appearance looks quaint and pleasing, while the inhabitants of the country are a most genial kind of people, if one could only understand them.
Source: Through the Buffer State: A Record of Recent Travels Through Borneo, Siam and Cambodia - John MacGregor, M.D. - 1896