Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday Ride to Irkasandra Tank with Bangalore Bikers

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It was yet another Brilliant Ride with BB. Being a combined welcome Ride for May and June there was no limit on the no. of Riders. So a good turn out of almost 60 people with bikes ranging from 100cc to 1000cc. You will not find such variety in any other group I guess. It was great to meet everyone. Also nice to interact with friends from last welcome Ride and Sakleshpur Ride.

PC: N I John, LetsClick Photography

PC: Aryan

We were Split into 3 groups. Few people dropped out at the last minute. So there was some change in the group. Nevertheless, Ride started on time after John's briefing. I reached meeting point little late, but did not miss the briefing.

Group1 had all Sooper Bikes and Pocket Rockets(Dukes) led by Vijay Shah, followed by Group2 led by John which had a mix of Gixxers, CBRs, R15-R3s, Apaches, REs etc. Group 3 was entirely Humara Bajaj :) (Dominars & Pulsars) led by Manan with Yash tailing.

Ride started on a good note and everything went smooth. Initially Group 2 got split into 2. But we all reached Dobaspet in no time. The leads made sure everybody stopped and nobody went over the flyover. From there we Rode as a group. Took the turn towards Madhugiri(Uridgere-Koratgere Road). Destination was just 25 odd kms from Dobaspet. Beautiful Scenic single lane Road throughout, passing through some villages. Mix of smooth curves and straights. I thought now all the Riders ahead of me will again disappear. But everybody stuck with the group without speeding and Big thanks to John who was leading Group2 on Gixxer for a change. Actually, first time I saw him from close distance Riding slowly :p. Everybody was doing a Jolly Ride, enjoying the scenery.

Just some 10kms after Uridgere we took a right turn. From there Road was not good. Actually the Road was not made yet(the last 1-2kms). So had to Ride slowly and carefully on the loose jelly stones that were not rolled over. It was somewhat like offRoad. My Bike was dancing with tyres slipping left and right :p

As we reached Irkasandra Tank, we were greeted with a cool Breeze and Serene View. Climate was just perfect. Everyone started gazing at the view and then took pics and videos :) This place reminded me of Dandiganahalli dam. We parked our bike there itself and got down to other side for a short "Intro on the Rocks". Some people even took their Bike close to the waters and did "Parking on the Rocks". Intro session as always was fun filled. Took the mandatory group pics and then just hanged around the place for some time, chit chatting. Its a cool place to chill out early in the morning. Very near and easily accessible.

After lazing around a bit, we started back and John made us stop a number of times on the way for the Drone shots :D We can expect to see ourselves Riding in a cool drone video now. Subscribe to N.I John. :)

For Breakfast we took a U-turn towards Tumkur and went to Kamat(near Reliance). Same place where we stopped for last welcome Ride. After Breakfast, John was courteous enough to take our pics at the same Parking place once again :) and Thanks to him, Almost everyone got a chance to take the Gixxer 250 for a short spin. We were all impressed by the looks, refinement and pickup of this Bike.

I took the Gixxer for a short spin just after Hitesh's R15 and both bikes felt Super refined although they have very different Riding postures. R15's is very committed whereas Gixxer's position is upright and comfortable. More comfortable than a CBR, I would say. I'm sure some people in the group will definitely get inspired to buy this bike in near future. This is the advantage of group Ride. You get real time feedback from friends and when you get to take the Bike for a spin, nothing like it. Gives very good idea of different Bikes and their behavior.

After a long break at Kamat, we started back to Bangalore and Reached home by around 12:30-1pm. Some of them who had started early, reached back by 10 or 11am itself. The return Ride was uneventful.

Here's the amazing Drone footage of the Place.
Simple, pure, pleasing video by John



Video Credit: N.i. John, LetsClick Photography
Like, Comment, Share, Subscribe maadi..






All in all it was a perfect chilled out welcome Ride. Great time pass on a Sunday morning. Thanks to BB and John for Organizing. Once again, Welcome to all new members..
Until next time.. Ride Safe, Ride Long.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Weekend Trip Options from Bangalore(2 days < 250kms one way)- Coorg and Chikmagalur

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The two most visited places from Bangalore for a weekend Ride/Drive are Chikmagalur and Madikeri(Coorg). Simply because they are quite near to Bangalore and have lots to offer as weekend destinations specially from Bangalore. Also they are neither too near nor too far. Perfect for the so called Riding/Driving Enthusiasts for a Short Trip.

This post is aimed at helping people planning for a weekend outing from Bangalore with information about the places, route, map etc. I'll be updating the post with some pics and maps since I've visited both these places numerous times.

Lets first start with Chikmagalur coz there are lots of places to see. Falls, Hills, Temples etc. Its both near to Bangalore and easily accessible. Just a 4 and half hours drive. Coz Blore to Hassan is a breeze. Can cover in 3hrs. From Hassan, Chikmagalur is just 60 kms.




I've prepared a Sample Itenary which people can follow. This will give a fair idea to plan your trip according to your preferences. This itenary is prepared keeping both youngsters and family in mind and is not very challenging to execute.

Leave Bangalore at 4am.
Try to visit Mullayangiri early in the morning. Day1 will anyways be reaching Chikmagalur only by 10 or 11am, so cover the temples and the falls on Day1 and take Rest.
On Day2, can visit Mullayangiri early in the morning. There is some trekking involved, but the view is worth it. There will be some mist as well. And the morning breeze on the hill is something to be experienced. The feeling can't be described in words.

Day1: Blore-Breakfast- Halebidu(Hoysaleshwara Temple) - Belur(Chennakeshawa Temple, Take a Guide if available)-Lodge/Resort Checkin-Lunch
Note: Belur is on the way to chikmagalur. Belur and Halebidu are some 17kms apart. If visiting both, visit Halebidu first and then Belur.
Post Lunch: Dabdabe(Buttermilk) Falls- BabaBudangiri Hill - Lodge - Roam Around in the market(Chats)-Dinner-Halt
Buttermilk falls doesn't involve much trekking. Need to park the car by the side of the road and A jeep will get you down(offroad) near to the falls and from there its just a leisurely walk.
Carry extra clothes and covers. Bababudangiri also not much trekking. Its more of walking.

Day2: Start at 6am from Lodge-Mullayangiri-Breakfast-Lodge(checkout)- Some Other Place-Lunch
Post Lunch: Ayyana kere Lake- Dinner -Blore
Ayyana kere is just a large lake. Peaceful and good place to relax and click pics. Nothing much to do. Its quite far from the city, 25kms on the other side on Chikmagalur. But then you can take the alternate route through Arsikere to Bangalore. Check the above map and see which all places you would want to visit on Day2.

On Day2, in case it gets late, you can stop for dinner on the way(Swathi Delicacy before Kunigal).

PS: There are lots of other places in Chikmagalur which I've purposely left out. Either because its time consuming or because its a little too adventurous to include them in a 2 days plan. I'll share about those places in a separate post. 2 days is not at all enough for Chikmagalur/Madikeri or any such place for that matter. With too many options and misleading reviews on the internet, I'm just trying to bring your confusion down by picking a few places that are worth a Visit.
Any Suggestions/comments are most welcome.

=======================================================================

MadikeriComing to Madikeri, one of my fav places for a Trip.

You can visit the following places in Coorg:-

1) Bylakuppe(Tibetian Monastery), Nisargadhama and Dubbare elephant camp in one shot preferably on 1st day itself. Try Zipline at Nisargadhama and Rafting at Dubbare. Check this for the timings: https://coorgtourism.co.in/dubare-elephant-camp-coorg

2) Omkareshwara Temple, Abbi falls, Mandalpatti, Raja's Tomb and Raja Seat all are near Madikeri.
Mandalpatti has some offroading. Better park the bike midway and walk the last stretch.
Abbi falls you've to climb down and climb up some 100-150 steps. You can only take pics from a distance. Can't get down to the waters. Will be a bit crowded.

Raja Seat(Sunset point) and the Omkareshawara temple can be covered at evening time as well. Raja Seat will be open till 8pm I guess.

You can take a walk at Raja Seat if you reach there before its dark and Relax. There's a toy train and musical fountain as well. You can just have some snacks and relax.

3) Talacauvery and Bhagamandala- go early in the morning. Will be a good Ride. Dont keep this for evening/afternoon. Try coffee/tea at some shops on the way.

4) Tadiandimol(Trekking)- Chelavara falls (close to Virajpet). Again, dont keep this for evening.

All the places are touristy places So plan according to your preference. Try to explore some offbeat places. Check this blog post for some maps and info.
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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Welcome Ride with Bangalore Bikers: Devarayanadurga (DD Hills)

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A Refreshing Ride on the weekend to one of my fav places near Bangalore- Devarayanadurga(DD Hills). Its always a great experience riding with Bangalore Bikers.

I still remember the last time I visited DD Hills with BangaloreBikers a few years ago. I've been to DD Hills a number of times. Both DD Hills and Nandi Hills are my favorite places for a short Ride/Drive so I endup visiting them often, though every time I keep looking for new places to Ride to. This time the place did not matter, I just wanted to Ride with the group.


Date:
28th April 2019

Destination: Devarayanadurga Hills (DD Hills)
https://goo.gl/maps/UH526xCHnmqZy1N99

Riders: around 30 Riders from https://www.bangalorebikers.com/

Meeting Point:  Indian Oil Petrol Bunk, Toll Gate, Tumkur Road(after Nelamangala)
https://goo.gl/maps/XQSLgxZbpbG2Distance: Roughly 120 kms to and fro.

Meeting Time: 5:00 am Ride Start Time: 5:15 am

Route: Home - Meeting Point(Nelamangala) - Kyathsandra turn- Siddagange Mutt- DD Hills
Followed the same route for the return leg since there was some road work happening in the alternate route (Uridgere-Dobaspet)

After a long time I Rode with this group. The Ride was very well organized and co-ordinated. Thanks to everyone from BangaloreBikers for making it successful. Special thanks to John(Founder), the lead and tail riders(Rahul Mohanty, Bala_Madhavan, Chandu and others). It was a Safe, hassle free and Refreshing Ride.

We had a whatsapp group created just for the Ride and there was lot of fun chat happening the previous night.

3:00am: Woke up and got ready quickly. Riding gear and my gopro bag was all set the previous day itself. Added some songs to playlist and put some 3M tapes on the Knee guard to fix some wear and tear which took some time.

Left my home by 4:10am. Since the meeting time was after Nelamangala which was some 35kms from my place, I was not sure if I'll reach on time. But since there was not much traffic, I reached the place soon by 4:35a.m itself before everyone else which I did not realize at first.

My bike's timer was incorrect, it was showing 4:55am. So I was surprised to see that there were no bikes parked there. I was expecting a big lineup with Z900s, GSx750, Daytona, R3, RCs, Dukes etc but the whole place was empty. Just when I was wondering if I've come to the right place, I saw a guy(Aryan) on the side who was sipping tea alone. He was not wearing any helmet or Riding jacket so I was doubtful if he's part of the group. Also, I did not spot his bike anywhere(RC200).

He came up to me and asked "hello are you from Bangalore Bikers?" and Thats when I got assured that I'm at the right place. This guy had come from KR Puram side and had reached the meeting point long back itself. It was his first Ride with the group. Soon another guy came in his Pulsar 220(Akmal) and we parked the bikes side by side. We usually park the bikes one beside another in a line which just looks fantastic in the dark and also very convenient to take pictures and start the Ride.

As we were discussing, other Riders started coming in one by one on their Pulsars, followed by Dominars and Dukes. But I was still waiting for the R3, RCs, Z900s and Daytona :) (I've a Crush on Sports bikes you see, specially the faired ones. I wish there were some Ninjas joining the Ride too.

Since I was joining a group Ride after a long time, I was feeling a bit strange to do the hi hello thing :p So I quietly sat in a corner talking to some folks. Did not take any pictures of the Bikes :(

The group assembled in some time and finally z900 and Daytona also came in. The group had been split into two. John and Rahul started taking attendance of Group1 and Group2 respectively.

People were still exchanging pleasantries and I was eagerly waiting for the Ride to start as I was kinda getting bored.

Finally, John started the briefing session which quickly got the group together. What an amazing guy he is. The briefing helped break the ice for new members and for introverts like me. Briefing session was really good and detailed as I expected covering all the points about Safe Riding, Group Riding etiquette, formation, hand signals etc and it was fun too. Not like a serious monologue. One of the main reasons I joined the Ride was because John was organizing the Ride. He's passionate about Biking and Photography and fun loving. Lots to learn from this guy.

Even though we were late to start the Ride, no hurry was shown while starting the Ride and I really liked that. Some things come only with experience. Took some video of the briefing.

I was part of group2 and we finally started the Ride by 5:35am. In each group the order of the Riders was pre-decided. But not sure how many people noted the order in that short time. Something that we can address the next time by interacting with our group members to understand who'll be Riding behind whom. As recommended by John and other experienced folks, the One Rule that we must and should follow to stay together as a group is to just "Keep the Rider behind you in your rear view mirror" and everything falls in place. When the Rider behind you slows down, you slow down and when you slow down the Rider ahead of you slows down and so on. So you never fall behind and the group sticks together no matter what.

Anyways as the Ride started, the Riders took off on their bikes one by one like Rockets. I was tailing a Cbr 250. It was a pleasant Ride and we took a number of breaks as the distance was short. Keeping the Meeting point on the highway far from the city, early in the morning helped beat the heat.

Even with different capacity bikes, we managed to ride as a group. At Kyatsandra junction(towards Siddganga mutt), we slowed down and was waiting at the turn for Riders coming behind, but they couldn't spot us and went ahead. Honking and shouting did not help :p So me and Bala(funny thing that he was the tail Rider) had to go ahead, take u-turn and come back. If not for Bala, those Riders would've crossed Tumkur I guess :p.

Finally we reached DD hills stopping for some pics on the way. Strangely I did not take any pictures of my Bike or the group. May be next time I'll do that. But I thoroughly enjoyed the Ride through the forest. I did feel like stopping as we neared Namada Chilume between the canopy of trees. That place is so good that you'll feel like stopping. Its a must visit if you are coming there for the first time.

Also one should definitely visit the Bhoga Narasimha and Yoga Narasimha temples and trek up to the top where you get a 360 deg view of the surroundings.

Earlier I was interacting with a Lady Rider and she was a Kannadiga too which I was not aware. Funny thing was, we started conversing in English without knowing that we both speak Kannada well and the whole conversation got recorded on my GoPro without my knowledge. I had a good laugh while watching the video coz when two Kannadigas are talking to each other in English, the accent is somewhat strange. Its like we're speaking English by translating Kannada :p Once we knew we are Kannadigas we switched to Kannada coz its always a pleasure to converse in your mother tongue specially about topics that interest you.

The CBR guy's name was Dhanush(who apparently has been to 'Dhanushkodi' :p). I was tailing this guy for the entire Ride and It was nice Riding behind the CBR. Its like we became Ride partners. He was a kannadiga too and it was a pleasure interacting with these guys.

In the group Ride we normally just head to a view point near the guest house which is a quiet place, perfect for the intro session. Once we parked our bikes and got settled on the rocks, we started having some chit chat. John flew his drone and it soon went so far and disappeared that we were wondering if he lost it.  The Intro session was interesting and fun as usual. With lot of leg pulling and double meaning jokes etc but everything in the spirit of fun. It was nice to meet many new people from different walks of life and to learn about their biking experience. I became friends with a couple of them.

After the intro session, we took the mandatory group photos and then headed to our next destination- Kamat Restaurant for the breakfast. We all were damn hungry by the time we reached Kamat. Spoke to few other Riders-Iqbal, Pavan, Parishrut, Aryan etc. And it was a nice interaction. Bikers usually bond really well within a short time and never run out of things to talk about.

We had a small photo session there as John clicked our pictures. It was so nice of him to take our individual pics as we posed one by one on our beloved bikes. Also got couple of BB group stickers, thanks to Lohith. The time was around 11:30 am and It was getting hot. We started our Ride back and took a small break after the same toll where we had started the Ride. 

Overall it was an amazing ride and I can't wait to ride together again with Banglore Bikers :)
Some pics that folks shared in the forum:-

 

Me in the bottom row. 4th guy from Left.




                                              

Hopefully more pics and videos on the way. I've some Gopro footage too and the Video will be up after editing.
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Thursday, January 3, 2019

MyEcoTrip.com : Trekking at Skandagiri, Makalidurga, Savandurga, SiddaraBetta etc is not free anymore.

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#MyEcoTrip

These days trekking is no more free at 7 popular Trekking destinations around Bangalore i.e Skandagiri, AvalaBetta, Makalidurga, Savandurga, Bidarakatte, Devarayanadurga and SiddaraBetta. It is charged by "myecotrip.com" (Rs.250 per Trek per person).

http://myecotrip.com/trails/1/Bangalore%20landscape





It seems this is a mandate by the Forest dept. which is being implemented since the last 6-7 months. A private organization called "MyEcoTrip" is imposing this rule. Need to make an online payment for trekking by signing up at myecotrip.com. This can be done prior to the trek or through mobile on reaching the place as well since mobile network is available near the trek base of all these places. But you need to have your debit/credit card with you. Bulk booking is also available(minimum 30). I'd recommend booking in advance if you wish to go trekking at these 7 places.

Once the payment is done you get a message to your email confirming the same. No paper receipts or entry ticket is provided. The guides will accompany you if needed. This is done to regulate the crowd and prevent any untoward incidents it seems. There are forest guards and guides deployed at each of the trek base to ensure the safety of Trekkers.

Although these places do not need any guided tour, In case its your first time trekking, make sure you atleast take the guide's contact numbers in case they are not accompanying you on the trek. Will come in handy in case you venture out on the wrong path and get lost/stuck somewhere. The forest gaurd's contact no. can be obtained from the "myecotrip.com" website as well.

Earlier they were charging Rs.450 per person just for the trekking because of which the crowd reduced drastically. Even now I feel, charging Rs. 250 per person per Trek is not fair. Most of the people are not aware of this Mandate and on reaching the place, they are in for a shock and without being able to book, they end up being sent back which is quite frustrating.

In the past, there have been a number of incidents where some people have either got injured or got stuck during trekking and the forest dept. had to conduct search and rescue operations. Also some incidents of accidents, theft, robbery, loss of life. Such incidents had prompted the ban on Trekking at night specially at Skandagiri. Probably, on the same lines, the Forest and Tourism dept may have decided to regulate the Trekking activities which is a good thing. There are arrow marks on the boulders now throughout the route at most of the trekking places and if you follow the same, there's no way you can get lost. If you still get lost, you can call up the guides for help. There are dedicated parking spots to park your vehicles (which is ofcourse charged) at the trek base.

Gone are the days when we used to venture out for a night out/ride and decide on trekking some hill randomly. We would park our bikes beneath some trees or infront of some house in the village and start trekking without any prior information or knowing the way. No Mobile Network. No google maps. There were no arrow marks anywhere either. Getting lost and finding our way back was all part of the trekking experience.

Spending the night atop a hill with those chilly winds, trying to light up a small campfire to warm up our freezing hands was great fun. Watching the sun rise between the clouds was such a treat. Seeing the fog/clouds cover below us gave us a feeling of being on top of the world. Just one word to define the expericence - "Heavenly". There was no crowd whatsover at these places specially during weekdays or during night. During weekends, if you were lucky, the villagers would trek up the hill and sell maggie and other stuff.

Although, we need to appreciate the efforts of the forest department to make the trekking experience better and safer, this needs a lot of improvement. At many of these places there is littering and you can still see empty bottles and plates thrown here and there at the top of a hill.

Instead of charging an entry free, would have been better to deploy the guides at the bottom and top of the hill to warn the trekkers from doing such inhuman acts and imposing a fine for littering and  behaving improperly.

If they are charging Rs.250 per person per trek, they might as well install some dustbins and provide toilet and proper parking facilities at the trek base. Atleast they should maintain a register and make entries of check-in and check-out to make sure people who came in for trekking also got out safe and secure. Note down our phone no.s and vehicle no.s and even ask for Id proof. If someone got stuck you can then easily track them with the help of guides. 

No such thing is being done at most of these places even though these places draw a lot of crowd specially during weekends. Right now you just feel cheated because you pay Rs.250 plus taxes per person and you get "NOTHING" for it. NO Food, NO Water, NO entry ticket, NO Dustbins, NO Toilets, NO information/booklet, NO other facilities. Nobody at the top of the hill or along the route, to ensure safe trekking or to stop people from littering. For Rs.250, I'd expect all this and more. Even a Trekking certificate from the Forest department certifying the successful completion of the Trek :D.

Even if you insist that you are a nature lover or trekking enthusiast, a localite who has been there for trekking a no. of times and you do not need any guide, you still need to sign up with "myecotrip" and make the payment, else you are just sent back by the forest guide. It seems MyEcoTrip, the Forest Dept. and the Guides, all get a commission out of the 250rs. so they are just cashing in on this. Just hope that this money is utilized in the right direction to develop or atleast protect these places as bio-reserves.

You even need to pay to park your bikes/cars without any security guard over there to take care of your vehicles. This is not charged by the forest dept. but rather by some villager who's there to make some money early in the morning. You won't even see them near the parking spot when you return after your trek. Rs.30 is charged per bike at Skandagiri which is ridiculous.

Since the Biking, Touring and Trekking culture in Bangalore is on a full swing, most of the people at these places are the urban crowd like techies, college grads and other trekking enthusiasts who are from well to do families who do not mind spending the money. So these places like SiddaraBetta, Skandagiri, Savandurga, Makalidurga, Devarayanadurga, AvalaBetta etc. which were nature's abode are soon turning commercial. Sad but True. "Nandi Hills" is a prime example. There are many more such hills around Bangalore and I wish they don't lose their natural charm anytime soon.

Trekking has turned expensive for sure with some guided treks in Bangalore charging in the range of Rs. 1200-1500 per person per Trek (including transport of course). Also the entry/parking fees at some of these places make us feel as if Trekking is a rich people's thing. Though we locals still finish the deal in less than 150rs per person for petrol and food by taking our bikes out to numerous other hills where trekking is still free ;)These days I'm on a Solo Trekking spree Riding my Bike whenever I feel like to nearby Forts/Hills around Bangalore that are less visited and totally free from the crowd.  Thank God there is no 250rs. entry fee imposed at "Nandi Hills" as well, else I would have lost money in thousands :) Nandi Hills comes under the Horticulture and Tourism departments. There has been a lot of development efforts in the last few years and there are some multi-crore projects planned for the future like a Theme Park. But I still miss the times when fancy hotels and coffee shops were unheard of in the city outskirts and there was no entry/parking fees for trekking.

I heard from one of the Forest guards that Skandagiri is doing good business and it could soon turn into another Nandi Hills. Trekking enthusiasts and organizations which offer guided trips are preferring other places for Treks like Madhugiri Fort, Kunti Betta, Kabbaladurga etc. to avoid the fee. Surprisingly the crowd at Madhugiri which was once considered a dry, difficult, scary, Boring Trek has now increased :)

Check this out:-

https://myecotrip.com/trailDetail/3/Skandagiri

https://myecotrip.com/trails/1/Bangalore%20landscape

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/trekking-fees-at-7-ecotrails-may-be-slashed-by-over-50/articleshow/61612363.cms

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/government-plans-major-investment-for-this-little-mountain-getaway/articleshow/59484774.cms

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/no-entry-for-solo-travellers-to-nandi-hills/articleshow/66254075.cms

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/pay-double-to-enter-nandi-hills-from-feb/articleshow/67200255.cms

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/3-trekkers-rescued-after-6-hour-operation/articleshow/66494661.cms

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/big-chunk-of-rte-seats-in-ktaka-schools-remains-vacant/articleshow/64006287.cms

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/9th-century-temple-near-nandi-hills-to-get-world-class-amenities-soon/articleshow/64863372.cms





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One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.