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Old 31st July 2008, 13:06   #31
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The Scorpio proved worthy of the road. The driver fatigue was minimal and the highway cruising superb though on long drives the rear passengers felt slightly more tired. The Scorpio took everything in its stride and even the non existant roads on certain patches proved nothing against the vehicle. No problems what so ever at all and fully justified its reputation.

We woke to a very wet morning in Manipal and had a few problems in getting the milk bottles sterlised. Thought about giving samurai a call again but then the neighbourhood friendly hotel wala relented and let us boil them. We refueld and the Petrol Pump accepted CC which saved us the necessity of going to the ATM immediately. Received a call from Samurai who had seen us driving out and after thanking him for his hospitality we were on our way at around 0915 hrs and odo at 18900. Made good progress crossing Suratkhal 1030hrs, 18955, Mangalore 1100 hrs,18969. It was here that the dredge started. All fo a sudden I find myself on a very broken wet slushy stretch of a piece of land which was called as a Road in these parts.
The progress was very slow and to add to misery was a constant rain. Every now and then we would come across Trucks stuck in roadside, nay wayside gullies blocking up traffic. It was the worst road we had encountered so far and driving was very tiresome but fortunately the worst portions were soon over and the roads became acceptable.
We crosse dinto the God's own country around Cannore 1130, 18986 and Kasargod at 19020 at 1145 hrs and the road became good once again. Prior to this we also encountered numerous trucks on a hill sde which was probaly some sort of a quarry.
God's own country threw a totally different surprise at us. The towns just flew past us in a blurr. There was one every 3-4 kms and the market was totally packed. It seemed that every town was having a shopping festival and everyone had turned out for it. Add to it the low heraing perceptions of the local folks who I think slectively barr vehicle horns from registering in their cerebellum.
Another thing I realised was that the AUTO DRIVERS are all made from the same mould no matter what their geographical location is. What makes them so cocky? I was doing around 100 kmph on a good stretch of a highway (which surprisingly had shown no sign of a market for atleast 3 kms now) when suddenly this cocky auto joins the highway from a side artery and comes to a full stop barely 10 meters from my Scorpio. Too add to the situation kerala has some misguided feeling that adding small concerete medians into the road on corners will make the drivers stick to their own lanes. I just stoppedwith my front crash bar almost touching the auto. I abused for the first time this year. (I mean first abuse for road rage since I took a pledge to reduce my road rage factor as new year resolution).
The towns flew past:
Kanhangad, 1240, 19060
Cheruvathur, 1255, 19073
Vellur, 1305, 19084
Payyannur, 1310,19089
Taliparamba, 1335, 19108
Kannur 1400, 19130. The town was big and after missing a some good respectable looking eateries near the town centre we could not find a decent eating place after that. All the eateries had impressive looking facades but ont he interiors were no better than a shanty. Then a local came to our help and pointed out a place another few Kms out of town which he said was good. We drove on and found the place by a left curve on the road. The food was Ok and the gentle man serving us took pains to understand what we wanted and what he had to offer. The surprise came when he fetche dus water. I took a sip and almost drenched my brother siting on the other side of the table. It was HOT.

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Old 31st July 2008, 14:47   #32
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@wanderernomad - Nice travelogue, makes very interesting reading.

I just noticed, you bought your car from "Makkar Motors"!!!!!!!!!!
I am sure you know what "Makkar" in Hindi means. I checked and re-checked.
As long as the beast is doing well it doesn't matter where you got it from...
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Old 31st July 2008, 15:10   #33
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I took a sip and almost drenched my brother siting on the other side of the table. It was HOT.
If you got coloured water, check this out - The Hindu : God's own `chukkuvellam'
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Old 31st July 2008, 17:11   #34
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@Mayur : yeah I know what that means and trust me they were true to the meaning. It was only beacuse of a friend in the Mahindras and the Local Cops did they behave to an extent.lol
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Old 1st August 2008, 16:50   #35
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After having some Biryani's and Daal we started on the journey once again and still Cochin seems too far away.Once again the ritual begins reach cruising speeds, curse a few times, brake, honk, honk, honk, town over, speed up again.
The towns just keep coming, Is Kerala also the most urbanised State? I am almost wondering now. Mahe was a bit of a let down. we crossed it even before we realised we were there. Didnot specifically had the uropean kinda charm we had been expecting. Thellisery 1530,19151
Mahe 1550, 19160
Vatakara 1605, 19175
Payyoli 1620, 19187
Koyilandi 1640, 19200
Vaniyoor 1800, 19206
Kozhikode 1700, 19226
hey isnt this the town that has an IIM?
Yeah, surely doesnt look so.
Hmm sad, oh wat are you sad about, nothing its just so, i expected somehting nice. ohh ok.
Edarikhode 1800, 19273 Putanathami 1820 19281 Valanchery 1830 19291.
Here the road also went straight to link witht he Cochin road but there was a diversion befitting a small village road which was actually the NH 17 curving towards Ponnani. We decieded to take the main road (not the NH) but then stopped along the shoulder to reconsider. Out coems the maps, the compass and the brain juice.
I say we take the NH17,
hmm any particular reason?
well seems shorter and more scenic.
but its a small road..
so what its an NH.
Shall we turn back?
yeah and lets ask the blokes near the turn about.
We trun back and reach the place where a small path leaqds us on towards Ponnani. We ask a guy the road to Cochin and he points towards our back. We grin and ask about ponnani and he points tot he small road, Voila, we have our detour before us. As we drive on the road we cant help but appalaud the Rights of an Individual in a literate state ruled by communists.
I have forgotten the number of times I had to drive around the compound wall of someone just because it was there in the way of the allignment of the road BUT is it not supposed to be a NH, yes so wat, is it not supposed to be the lush green courtyard of our dear Comrade? I rest my case.
In that fading twilight I drove with caution as I didnot surely want to enter sumones porch by mistake, hell the main gates opened onto the road as if it was some drive way!! The road was about 10 feet wide in places because there were compound walls on either side, how sweet.
We desperately searched for a road marker showing we were on the right road but still nothing. As my bro hung his head in dejection he saw IT. A small white blob of a thing hardly 2 feet high proudly proclaming that it was a mute sentinel on that national treasure NH17.
We reached Ponnani at 1905 with odo reading 19325. it was a small town but with a very busy marketway, Why am I not surprised.
The road improved after that and we reached Chavakhad at 1935 and odo 19346. Filled in Diesel and sought a place to eat from him.The place he told us is best left unsaid. 75%of the food was left untouched and the time, the road and the food made everyone grouchy.To add to it my wife developed small boils on her entire face. it ahd been itching since morning but now the allergy had broken out. It was 2100 hrs and we were still not at Cochin. The ladies stubbornly refused to join the MONSOON DRIVE the next morning. I pleaded and cajoled but to no avail and like a prudent man I kept my silence thereafter.
My brother started driving and I kept my eyes peeled for a medical shop but then it stared raining the way it can only rain in Kerala and the dampness did nothing to lift our spirits.
While we drove on in gloom suddenly, tring tring, tring tring,is it my phone?
I pick up
allo, is it wanderernomad?
hi this is Zak.
ohh hi,
where are you?
(in the gallows of hell, i wanted to say) but Ohh I am in Gods own country,
Great. ( i look around to see if i see anything great in the situtaion I am in, but fail to do so, driven so long a distance, drove everyone insane today for to join the DRIVE but shelved it after one condenscng glance from my wife, Why are they still called as the weaker sex, wanted to ask ZAK but then let it be)
Whats the reg number and the make of the car you are driving?
Scorpio, black, Hp 15 ****
ok just compiling a list, bye see ya.
yeah bye.
As i sat wistfully in that car, My mom spoke out. You can go tomorrow while we all will stay in Cochin, ohh yeah had i said yes it would have been marital harakiri. So i just noded my head and stared out into the darknes. And then something Red flashed by. wait that was a hospital stop stop i need to earn soem brownie points from my wife. By the time the scorp rolled to a stop we were a good 20 meters from the spot. I stepped out and walked towards the hospital. The rain had no effect on me and i took my time getting to the foyer. The building looked omnious as it was under renovation but someone pointed me towards the emergency/casualty.
Goodevening sister, but can i buy some avil here?
yes, the pharmacy is in the other building and you go around this one.
Go around what? this bed you are pointing at?
No No this building.
Ok fromt he outside as in on the main road?
Was I human? she stared at me open mouthed. why do you want top go outside int hsi rain?
I dont want to but you said so.
No I didnot. ohh maybe i didnot understand.
A security guard came over and took me by my arm. was I to be medicated for stupidity? Horryfying images of being given electric shocks swam in front of my eyes and before i ran away shrieking he pointed out the way to the pharmacy. Go there saar, then left and right by the fishes.
FISHES, did they have a fish pond in the hospital? Either i ahve lost it or its not what I think it is. I stagger my way upto the counter with a very motherly looking sister behind a small glass screen and a computer.
Goodevening mam, can i buy some avil.
Then we continue staring at each other for maybe 20 secs but she still remains seated..
How much?
For what?
need to see.
Then again the same indifference as we look at each other. maybe I am doing something wrong here but is it not the way to ask for a medicine?
Hmm How long?
For what?
aaaaaaaaaaahh Where am I o lord let this be a bad dream and I am still in my scorpio dozing.
Sister I need to buy Avil.
Yes do so but get a prescription.
From whom?
Are you a zombie or my initial guess at your being an alien was right, the doctor ofcourse.
Aha ofcourse but where is the doctor?
in the casualty.
aha thanks.
I turn back. As i make my way to the casualty and come face to face with the initial lady sergent she grins and points to a seat and says doctor will come shortly.
aha thank you mam.
After the doc came I explained to him the situation and he wrote out the prescription and also added a lotion to go with it. I go back and this time I see the FISHES. Scary to say the least but maybe it was just the time of the day and the mood i was in. Paid for the medicines and as I came out I saw my brother waiting with an Umberalla. How nice but why could he not just reverse the car all the way. anyway the umberalla is not good for both so i just trudge back to the car.
We start to drive again when the Doc Ripper called. hey wanderer reached?
where are you?
I dont know but in a hospital.
Ohh what happened?
told him and he sent an sms witht he name of the medicine to take. Why could I not check before hand that he was a doc rather than go and make a foll of myself in that place but then GOD does give a privilage to others to laugh as well isnt it?
Called up the guest house and sought the directions and once again the phone rings. Its Zak again but the voice sounds familiar, wait I know who this gurglish voice belongs to, No way it cant be, he is not that crazy though he looks so, but it is.
Aree ishan bhai tum yahan,
haan daaroo ke,liye kahin bhi,
hehe, great.
pahuncha ke nahin abhi tak,
nahin yaar, abhi nahin aur shayd kal bhi nahin aaonga.
ohh chal take care and come for daroo tonight if you feel like it and get the medicine,
yeah sure I will, will try and meet you guys tomorrow morning.
Reached Cochin at around 2230 and the sight of the guesthouse rooms was a feast for the sore eyes. Hit the bed at around 2330 and a wake up reminder to be up at 5 the next day to go and meet the bhp gang at sarovaram.
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Old 2nd August 2008, 00:17   #36
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The next day got up rather late and then started for the RV. Ripper as usual had given perfect directions and we reached the RV at around 7AM. A couple of bhpians had already reached and met with ripper, easy123, trrk and a couple of others who I donot recollect(forgive me). After small chit chat we went up to the restaurant to have breakfast while waiting for others to join. It was becoming the standard Indian Stretchable Time. Over breakfast Ishan and Steeroid ambled up and we had a brief chitchat. Around 8.30 we said our goodbyes and left the gang to prepare for the DRIVE. But not before easy123 helped us fix up a detailed chat with trrk regarding the back water cruises at Allepey. trrk was generous enough to help and true to his word by the evening he had arranged a cruise for us. Next day we left for the back waters. We had planned to reach by 10am but could only manage to reach by 12 but trrk was there on hand to help us out and left only after we had boarded the boat.
Thank you Sir, once again for everything that day.
From Kochi we had spent 3 days in the vicinity visiting the port, Chinese nets, cherai beach and then once again with Dr ripper being the local benefactor for us, helped plan us a route to Ooty through Thekaddy, Munnar. The trip though very interesting would be solely through pictures with the narrative following later.
The route info is as under:-
Ernakulam 0930 hrs, odo 19503
Alleypey 1045 hrs 19571
Ernakulam (Cherai Beach) 1830, 19673.
Next day: Kochi 0945 hrs,19700
Thiruvakulam 1040,19722
Kaduthuruthy 1130,19755
Ettumanur 1145,19770 Lunch break 1230 19974.
Mundakayam 1410,19835
Vallanjkum waterfalls 1430,19853
Kuttikanam 1440, 19857
Peermade 1445 19862
Kumily 1515,19894.
Nembunkandam 2230 19950.
We stayed here at the PWD guesthouse for the night. We just ventured in and showed our ID cards. The rooms were there and the caretaker was more than happy to let us stay for the night. Took very good care of us and whatso ever the condition of the GH we had a roof over our head and a warm bed to sleep in.
The first picture is of a dredger in the Kochi harbour.
The sequential set is of the life we saw during our back water cruise.
The last picture is of the famous snake boat used for the races.
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Old 2nd August 2008, 00:24   #37
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The First picture in this set shows the local government ferry that plies between the towns around the backwaters. The fare is extremely cheap about Rs 13 for the 2 hour trip while it had costed us 300 perhour (thanks to trrk while the off season rates quoted were about 500 per hour initially that go up to about 1000 rs per hour during season)
The next 3 pictures are of the setting sun at Cherai Beach.
The next 3 pictures have been taken at the Periyaar Lake cruise.
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Old 2nd August 2008, 16:16   #38
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> but trrk was there on hand to help us out and left only after we had
> boarded the boat. Thank you Sir, once again for everything that day.

It was a pleasure. But still, I am a bad host. We are so used to having nobody coming home, we are not well equipped for receiving guests at home. Language barriers also come into the picture. We also hardly visit anybody.

> The fare is extremely cheap about Rs 13 for the 2 hour trip while it had
> costed us 300 perhour (thanks to trrk

No. The rate was as quoted to me. I don't have enough influence to reduce the rates. This was the second boating that I had arranged (the first one before this was for myself). I was just lucky.

The government boat is not a ferry here. It is one of the boats which does trips like the regular government buses. We have a separate Kerala State Water Transport corporation like the regular Kerala State Road Transport Corporation.

Like every government department, even that is not maintained properly.
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Old 5th August 2008, 13:16   #39
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After staying the night at Nebunkandam we started on our way to Ooty. The stay arrangements had been made at DSSC Wellingdon. The scenic route led us through some fo the most beautiful spots we had ever seen. We drove through picture perfect postcard towns amid cardamom plantations. The Tea estates started from Poopara. The Second picture in this blog is from Poopara. From there it only got better and we had to make frequent stops to get down and soak in the sights.
We made a brief stopover at the tata tea factory and purchased Tea and Coffee. The entire journey is but best described in pictures which will be posted today evening.
The sight of Annai Mudi( the highest peak in South India) according to soem sources was awesome thought the peak could only be seen through a thick veil of clouds that surrounded the peak. Lunch was called at Lukkem Falls in the Erivakullam Wild Life Sancutary and comprised of small eggs (they were really small) , some local vegetable of onions and fresh rotis. There was only a single aged lady manning the stall and she found it tough to make rotis at a speed we were devouring them so my mother got up and while the lady tended to other things my mother cooked chappaties for us. Though sperated by a language barrier but both of them worked in perfect harmony to cook for us. We finishe dher entire rations for the day and the bill came to about Rs150 including Tea. The food never tasted so better as it did on that day.The dance with the scenic beauty continued the entire afternoon till we entered Tamil Nadu and what a shocker it was.
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Old 6th August 2008, 22:04   #40
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The pictures:-
1.Near the TATA Tea factory at Devikullam.
2.Enroute to Munnar.
3.Lakkum Falls.
4.Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
5.View of AnnaiMudi.
6.Entering Tamil Nadu.Amaravathi range.
The distances and trip log:-
Nedukandam 1000 hrs, 19956.
Udambanchola 1035, 19971.
Poopara 1100, 19989. From here the roads branched off to Madurai & Pajayi(?? not sure).
Devikullam 1230, 20014
Munnar 1250, 20021.
Rajamalai Sanctuary, 1315, 20028
Lakkum Falls 1400-1500, 20048.
Harayoor 1525, 20063, Diesel taken here. Fuel shortage so given only worth 200 Rs.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, 20066
Kerala/TN border 20081 (Indira Gandhi Wildlife park).
Thippaiparai Manupatti, 1630, 20095.
Udulnalpet, 1640,20110. From here we turned left(West) on NH 209.
Kollarpatti 1655, 20127.
Pollachi 1705, 20139, Diesel at BP pump. Full tank.
Palladam 1800, 20193
Sullaor 1820, 20209
Coimbatore 1915, 20225.
Mettupallayam, 2030, 20268.
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Old 7th August 2008, 07:24   #41
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Any reasons you did Sulur - Coimbatore - Mettupalayam? You lost a quite a lot of time passing Coimbatore.

Coming from Palladam, Just before 4 km from Sulur (IAF base, Sulur) there is a right turn for Somanur. That route takes to Somanur --- > Karumattampatti where you will cross NH47 and hit the road to Annur. Annur - Mettupalayam - ooty.

Good roads and faster route.

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Old 7th August 2008, 09:35   #42
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@AK it was a result of poor navigation and a bit of fatigue. Ripper had given detailed instruction to follow the route but somehow we missed the turnoff and only realised it when according to our data Coimb was supposed to be about 40 odd kms from Pollachi and after covering 45 kms there was still no sign of Coimb. The turn off at sullur was not taken as we had run out of patience and tempers therefore decieded to stick to the NH route.
A lot of time because there were too many twists and turns and the evening traffic was horrible in the town. As it started getting late we could not deciede whether to stay the night at Coimb or to pull till Ooty. By the time the decision was made we had run out of decent hotels to stay and hence had to go to Mettupallyam. There also the names suggested to us were no good and a lot of time was spent to locate the resting place. It was Hotel Mayura. It had nice rooms and good food.

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Old 25th August 2008, 15:08   #43
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Enough of rest and the story continues.

At first as we struggled to find a decent resting place for the night my brother went in tot he hotel Mayura lobby and gave a deposit of 1000Rs and finalised the rooms. But there was a communication gap and when he realised it he just walked out and we drove off to fnd another place recommended by locals. The place turned out to be not so good and we decieded to return to Hotel Mayura.The moment my bro walked in again the guy at reception jst handed him his money thinking that he has returned to collect it. So in a way our two rooms there costed us Rs 2400 - 1000 = Rs 1400. Not bad I say.
Nextd ay the drive to Ooty started and the roads were good, the traffic ugly. Most of the drivers coming down hill had no idea why a centre line has been painted on to the road. They thought it was a beautification drive thats all. The buses were round around the belly and at the rear were a painting gallery on wheels. Each one had a large picture in the center at the rear. Ooty turned out to be a tourists nightmare with no signs, awefull traffic no parkings and fleece agents in scores.
We parked in a large ground near to the Botanical Gardens which had a prominent sign saying PARKING. Nothing more nothing less and no attendant in sight. Then as we walked towards the Gardens we found a small tent saying exotic fishes. We got in and spent a hilarious 15 minutes inside. A nice trick to lure in tourists to see your home aquariums. The gardens were well kept and proved quite pleasing despite a small light persistent drizzle. The came the ultimate adventure. As my brother walked off to fetch the Scorpio we waited for him to come back near the gates. Shortly I saw him argueing with two chaps on the road. I strode over over and asked about the matter. He told me that this guy was the parkign attendant and was asking for Rs50 as the parking charge. I asked him where he was when we were parking and he said he was having Tea. Ohh what a blessed fortune and were the rates offcial, he said they were but could not produce any document substantiating the claim. I told him to come over to the two cops standing near to the gates. Now the fun beagn.
Excuse me, are you guys on duty?
Yes, Saar.
Fine we have a slight issue with the parking guy , can you help us?

By this time the parking attendants have started speaking their native tongue witht he cops. One of the cops then began speaking to us in a very loud voice with hand gestures. You pay, its collectoras orders, you have problem, pay first and then complain tot he collectera. Then he started shouting in local language and interspread it with english. As he came closer to me I realised that he was drunk and his eyes were blood shot.
Are you drunk?
No answer he glares at me. Listen we are Army officers so first cool down and talk sensibly. He starts shouting more. Where is your name tag ? Give me your number and ill speak to your SP right now. Give me your walkie and let me talk to your incharge.
No you pay first then complain.
Ok ill not pay now you go and complain to your collectera, and I walked off.
At this time another cop came over and listened to the whole story. He asked the attendant if the slip was given to us in the begining, the attendent says no. The cop told us Saar, you settle it yourself and we will not interfere. Ok fair enough, but does he know if the parking charge of Rs 50 was legal? No idea saar.
This was enough. We started the Scorpio and told the parking guys to take a hike or complain in writing against us for not paying a legitimate due. We told one of them to come with us to the SP office or the Collectors office to resolve the issue. They cringed away and merely stood as mute spectators as we drove off.
After this unpleasant episode we went to the lake and the Doodabeta peak. Rest of the OOty story to follow in pictures.
PS AFAIK last time I was there in ooty there used to be a lake in the centre of the city as well but this time it was just a ground. Whatever happened to it?
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Old 26th August 2008, 13:34   #44
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It's such a pleasure reading your travelogue! Not only does it give fairly good insights into the local life, it's one of the most hilarious and well-written trip updates I have read ever! Especially loved the hospital episode - was laughing away imagining the scene.

Do keep it coming.

Not sure about the lake in Ooty which has 'disappeared' - can you specify which part of town you are referring to? I grew up in Ooty and cannot remember any other lake close by to town (other than THE Ooty Lake).

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Old 26th August 2008, 14:19   #45
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@Jammy: When I had last visited the city way back in 2003 I think there used to be a water body around which the whole city was populated. I am talking about the area in front of the Busstand and on the right side of the road coming from the doodabeta towards the busstation after the red lights crossings leading to the botanical gardens.
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