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Mandie Update

Postby kate_turner2000 » Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:56 am

when i get email updates from mandie i will post them here :)

Hey everyone!

Am sitting in an internet cafe, its 3.43am on the 8th of December. I can't believe it's only Friday (just), feels like we've been here ages already!

The flight from Perth to Bangkok was good - met up with Shannon at the airport and we sat together, so that was pretty cool. Also met a couple of other 5th years in the airport taking the same flight! One poor girl, Jo, ended up sitting next to a slimy old man (three guesses why HE is going to Thailand) who kept touching her leg and asking her inappropriate questions until she managed to firmly tell him to bugger off... but not in those terms...

Dan and I chose to spend the hours between flights in the new Bangkok airport by drinking coffee and playing cards. Joel slept on the couch of the lounge. Dan and I had more fun, but I think Joel was probably more with it later in the day...

Landed in Koh Samui.. coolest airport I've ever been to. It has no walls! No really, its all huts.. It's really cool, but kinda weird...

Humidity kicked in.. got covered with sweat just standing there, so that was a nice introduction to Thailand...

We caught the first ferry over to Koh Phangan at 8am. It was okay at the start but became rockier.. we were sitting on chairs outside on the deck of the ferry, when a large wave came and knocked the boat, all the chairs went sliding down with us in them! We learned after that to hold onto the poles... We did eventually make it to Koh Phangan though, and stepped off the VERY rocky boat onto the shore. We later found out that further ferries for the day were cancelled due to the poor weather, so we were lucky to have made it over!

After a bit of hassle and running around, we managed to get a taxi to the place we're staying, called Triangle Lodge. The boys (Mike and Joel) booked themselves a nice bungalow, with walls and a tiled floor and a toilet that flushes. They booked Dan and I a budget bungalow (the last one left). Our bungalow has holes in the walls (covered by girlie pictures, which is nice..) and the floor boards are quite dodgy and we don't have much confidence in NOT going through them pretty soon.. We have enough space for a mattress, and thats it. We do have a fan in the ceiling, it's pretty good.

The bathroom in the bungalow has no door, which is somewhat disconcerting. The toilet does have a seat, but it doesn't flush so you need to chuck buckets of water down. The sink has a drain that just opens straight out onto the floor, so when you wash your hands you can waash your feet at the same time. Also, when you spit your toothpaste out, you spit it onto your feet. We've taken to spitting in the corner of the bathroom, near an actual drain. The shower is cold water only.

We slept all day on the 6th. Got up late evening, met up with some other 6th years here and had some dinner. I had spaghetti with green curry (Italian and Thai goes really well, surprisingly). The drinks are very cheap.. Chang beer is good. You can get a big one (as in, a big bottle, like about 750ml) for 60 baht (about $2). The bucket drinks are crazy - you pick your spirit (get hip flask sized amount), then combine with red bull and a soft drink e.g. coke, lime soda. You get a bunch of straws and drink it out of a bucket. They cost about 250 baht each, depending on what you get in it.

Oh, and did I mention the Red Bull here is actually Red Bull concentrate - so it's REALLY strong and tastes like cough medicine.

The full moon party was nuts. It actually wasn't as crowded as it probably would have been if the ferries from Koh Samui were running later in the day. Was still pretty busy though, a few thousand easily. Parties up and down the beach, bon fires, guys doing fire twirling.. they are so cool! There are heaps of different clubs and they all open onto the beach, so you just walk up to find the music you like and start dancing!

We hung out at the Orchid Club mostly for some dnb (they actualy played a lot of Pendulum!) and then wandered between the others when we felt like it.

Dan and I started to fade around 3am, so we went and got Thai massages for an hour.. it was SO good.. bliss for 200 baht.. felt so rejuvenated afterwards, so went back to the beach to dance! We made it til 5.30am, when we decided to go and get massage number 2.. after that one, we were falling asleep so caught a taxi back to our bungalow for bed...

Today - we slept! Got up around lunchtime, walked to the resort the other sixth years are staying in (luxury! flushing toilets!) and swam in their pool, which was really joy. Then we made our way down to the main beach, and I got my hair braided. It took 2.5 hours, 1200 baht.. and now I have 85 small braids in my hair. It's pretty cool, my hair feels very light and its fun to play with.. I'm hoping to leave it in for a few weeks. Yay for not having to wash my hair!

The beach is a lot quieter tonight.. hardly anyone around, just a few hundred people at a couple of the clubs drinking and dancing and chilling out. We're about to go home, after some food - we're all pretty tired.

Tomorrow we are heading over to Koh Samui (bigger island) for more island-style relaxation, and we will meet up with Simon the next day (I think...). After that we're going to head up to Chang Mai and get some trekking done, and ride elephants! :D

I'll get a sim card soon for my phone, and I'll e-mail the number when I get it.

Okay, I better go, everyone's waiting for me to get off the internet!

Take care, I'll write soon

Write to me!

Love,

Mandie xx
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Postby Ally » Fri Dec 08, 2006 10:38 am

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Postby hushpuppy » Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:14 pm

sounds like she is having a blast
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Postby Dozzy » Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:22 pm

Glade shes emailing you Kate was wondering how shes was going,been to Bankok myself can relate to the heat!!!
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Postby kate_turner2000 » Sat Dec 16, 2006 10:34 am

Hey everyone!

I'm here in Pai, which is a little town in the Chang Mai province in the north of Thailand. It's much nicer weather here - similar to Perth winter weather, and we are warm during the day but needing doonas at night. Very pleasant! It's totally a hippie village here, and we're acting like it.. bought some hippie headbands, and Dan got fisherman's pants, and then we both bought these really cute hippie shoes.. yeah. It's a really nice chilled vibe here, I really like it, could spend MONTHS here. The food is awesome.

There's a lady down the road who sells "fat on a stick" (juicy bbq pork kebab things), Dan and I are COMPLETELY addicted, it's all kinds of awesome. They have some great coconut shakes and coffee shakes here too.

Anyway, last time I wrote we were on Koh Phangan in a dodgy bungalow. We moved on to Koh Samui the next day, and found a nice quiet beach with cheap bungalows to chill at. Cheaper than the place on Koh Phangan, and this bungalow was big, had walls, had a tiled floor, had a flushing toilet, had a sink actually connected to pipes.. it was luxury! Right down the road we found a massage place that was run by a lady who had done heaps of courses in different types of massages and things, so we went there for a massage every day. Dan and I also got facials (and the lady used her "special" moisturiser on us.. whitening moisturiser..) and manicure/pedicures.

We hired a jeep one of the days and Simon drove us around the island. It was pretty fun sitting in the tray, somewhat scary watching the cars come at you.. but hey, its the Thai way. We went to a pretty nice waterfall, but unfortunately I was feeling sick that day and didn't climb up to the top. The others had a great time though, climbing up non-existent trails and swimming in the water.

Chaweng is the main night area in Koh Samui. It's DODGY. You can't walk 5m if you are a guy without being accosted by male and female prostitutes (most of the ladyboys are obvious, but sometimes you can't tell).. they are really persistent, grabbing guys and trying to lead them away. It was NOT our scene at all, found only one half decent club to dance at. I had trouble finding a decent toilet for a while.. tried one, but it was like the toilet out of Trainspotting (anyone who has seen that knows what I'm talking about) and I couldn't even go in there.. brown water on the walls, floor, all over the toilet, and it stank.. YUCK! Most squat toilets are cleaner than that!

We caught a ferry over to Surat Thani and decided to go our separate ways with the boys for a little while.. Dan and I had gotten sand in our cameras on Koh Phangan and we wanted to get them fixed in Bangkok, while the boys wanted to go to a National Park in Surat Thani. Dan and I caught an overnight bus to Bangkok (and again swore never to take an overnight bus anywhere again), then hung out in a cool israeli hangout with free internet until the shops opened at 10am. We went to the MBK shopping centre, found a camera shop.. and it wasn't open. We hung around shopping until 12, when the place finally opened. Dan went in, explained we had sand in our cameras.. and was advised to buy new cameras. We were not too thrilled with that!! We decided we had nothing to lose, so we bought a lens cleaning kit (250 baht between us) and had a go at getting the sand out ourselves, in the food court. Success! We both managed to clean our cameras and get them working again. We rock!

We rewarded ourselves by seeing "Happy Feet" (animated penguin movie). It's really cute! Kellie, you'll love it...

Randomly ran into Ann and some of the other sixth years we hung out with on Koh Phangan in MBK, and discovered Ann was on the same flight to Chang Mai that night! We flew up together and stayed in a nice hotel. We even had hot water! Dan and I were exhausted, and just crashed. We slept through an earthquake, and Ann knocking on our doors to see if we were okay! We were completely out to it.. It was a small earthquake but it was enough to shake us (5th floor) and apparently there were lots of people around looking scared when Ann went outside. No damage though, so that's good.

Sitting in the cafe in Chang Mai, ran into Josh Vogel, which was TOTALLY random, didn't even know he was in Thailand! Cool to catch up though!

We caught a nice air conditioned minivan to Pai, which takes around 4 hours along a very winding mountain road. It's SO nice here (especially compared to Chaweng on Koh Samui or Bangkok) and chilled. Dan, Ann and I have just been relaxing, eating, and relaxing some more. It's so great!

Today we hired a jeep and Dan and I took turns driving it. The handbrake was kinda dodge (needed to put rocks in front of the car to stop it rolling away when we parked) and the suspension was shot and the whole car rattled to hell when you went past 45kmh, but otherwise it was fine...

We went to an elephant camp to take an elephant ride. We decided to ride "bareback" instead of on the chair because it's more fun. The elephants are really stable and quite muscly - you can feel it as they walk along. Dan and I shared one big elephant (she sat on it's neck!) and Ann was on the smaller elephant. Our elephant kept stopping to eat food along the way, just like us at the street stalls... it was pretty funny. We agreed to do "elephant water play", and took off our shoes and rolled up our jeans. We thought we'd just be walking through the river, and maybe get our feet a bit wet, maybe the elephant would spray us with water.

We were wrong. Shoulda worked it out when we had to give our cameras, wallets, everything on us to the guy on the bank, and then we went deeper into the river. The elephants started bucking around and threw Ann off, and then I got thrown off too. Dan got chucked off eventually, damn her and her balance! It was so much fun.. we were SOAKED (all wearing jeans) but it was so hilarious.. you'd climb back on the elephant (and sometimes that was a struggle) and then they would make it buck you off again, or it would tip you forwards... I lost count of how many times I fell into the water! It was so funny, the thai boys kept laughing.. we got some good photos (the guy on the bank took them for us). The thai guide maybe crossed a line when he threw elephant poo (it was floating down the river) at Dan.. but I thought it was kinda funny. That is, until I was climbing onto the elephant from the back and I felt a warm bit of water and realised the elephant was peeing on my leg.. ew.

After all that entertainment, we found a gorgeous day spa and indulged in full body mud masks and oil massages, followed by a soak in a hot bath and moisturiser. It was awesome, my skin is so soft now! Expensive by Thai standards, but it was less than $50 each for two hours of wonderful treatment!

And that about brings me to now!

Dan and I are heading off on a trek tomorrow, it goes for three days and sounds like heaps of fun. It's 11pm, so better go back and pack our stuff. Hope everyone at home is well, sorry this e-mail was so long but we have been doing a lot!

Miss you all, so write me emails!

Mandie xx

P.S. Almost forgot to tell you all about the time I tried to put my foot in my shoe, couldn't, then touched the "thing" inside the shoe, realised it was some sort of animal, threw the shoe on the ground, screamed for Dan, then we noticed two forlorn looking eyes lookin out... there was a frog in my shoe. Gross! I freaked, Dan laughed, and eventually took it out to the garden for me.. I've learned to check my shoes THOROUGHLY now before i put them on...
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Postby slimmindown » Sat Dec 16, 2006 10:47 am

sounds like Mandie is having an amazing time. Those elephants sound fantastic. I've never travelled anywhere like that,it certainly gives you an itch for travelling 8) 8)

cant wait till the next email :D
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Postby KimE » Sat Dec 16, 2006 5:47 pm

:lol: That was a great read. The elephants, the frog, the dodgy car and great massages. She is having a blast. She writes very well and I can just picture it all.
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Postby Ally » Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:21 pm

I am glad Mandie is having a great time!!! I agree Kim, she is excellent at re-telling her tales!!! It is not my kind of thing, but I can tell she is just having an absolute blast!!! Loved the elephant, reckon that would just be fantastic!!
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Postby kate_turner2000 » Tue Dec 26, 2006 3:06 pm

Hi everyone, merry christmas from Bangkok!

I hope everyone is well and enjoying the holidays... Christmas seems to be big here mostly in the shopping centres (crazy decorations, massive trees, carols on the loudspeakers, etc) but no-one else really cares. The commercial aspect is definitely key - last night we saw a christmas tree with pretend credit cards hanging off it, and the raindeer had visa cards hung around their necks...

Dan, Dan's mum, Dan's sister (Jacky) and I had an entertaining christmas day. The night before, we did some last minute christmas eve shopping and then went back to our rooms to wrap presents. Jacky knocked on the door and asked if we wanted the christmas tree in our room or theirs.. Thinking that Jacky and her mum had bought a fake christmas tree at the shops, we said yeah just put it in your room. To our surprise, Jacky then walked past the room dragging a giant pot plant that had been sitting near the lift in the hotel. She decorated it with torn up/tied together garbage bag tinsel, and the fake vegetables that Dan's mum had bought at the markets. Dan made a star for the top out of wrapping paper. It was pretty amusing, and yes, we have photos! Dan and I put the tree back in the morning with the plastic bag tinsel still on it.. sadly by the evening it had been cleaned up. Maybe the maids didn't get it.

We unwrapped presents christmas morning, then went to find a church. We got distracted by the Aussie pub down the road, and went in for meat pies and egg nog. We were hanging out with a british guy that Jacky had picked up a couple of nights before (oddly enough, in a gay club) and Dan's mum had fun making him eat meat pies with tomato sauce. After that, we continued our search for a church. We finally found one.. and it was closed. Everything in Bangkok is open on christmas - businesses, shops, everything except for the church. It's kinda funny... On the bright side, I got out of going to church :P

To make up for not attending church, we went to the Grand Palace and a big Wat (temple) in Bangkok. We saw the emerald buddha (made of Jade) and the big reclining buddha (46m long and 15m tall). I was wearing below knee shorts and had to borrow a sarong to cover my legs at the temple, even though Thai women seemed to be allowed to walk around in mini skirts without a problem. Grr! At least it was free...

Bangkok is cool, it's pretty noisy and busy and the traffic is NUTS. The skytrain is realy cool and fast, so we have been using that a lot. We have been shopping shopping shopping (and I really have to stop) and have seen everything from markets to boutique stores to giant department stores where you can buy (real) Gucci, Chanel, Prada and more. I found a pair of shoes in LV that I wanted, but Dan vetoed.. they were only about A$1500...

The hotel we have been staying in (courtesy of Dan's mum) is really nice - a big change from the backpacker budget places! We have hot water with good water pressure and comfortable beds and definitely NO holes in the walls.. it's really nice! Only one more night though, and then.. VIETNAM!

Dan and I are flying to Hanoi (north vietnam) tomorrow morning. I'll be ditching the Thai sim card and getting a vietnam one, so after today don't message or call the thai number, because it won't work. I'll e-mail when I have a vietnamese number.

The trek was good - I have a lot of scratches and bruises still from falling over multiple times... but I doubt anyone will be that surprised by that. We spent the remaining time in Pai chilling out and then went to Chang Mai for a few days. We went to the massive flower expo and it was surprisingly really good! The orchid pavillion was amazing.. they had one orchid that really smelled like chocolate! And there was an orchid technology tunnel, which had disco lights and crazy music.. it was weird. The whole thing was a bit like flower Disneyland.. pretty crazy!

I took the 85 braids out of my hair after the trek. Dan helped a lot, it took ages! had crazy frizzy hair afterwards (yes we took photos) and it felt so good to wash it properly and put a protein treatment through my hair! The braids were good while they lasted but I don't think I'll do it again in a hurry!

We took an overnight sleeper train from Chang Mai to Bangkok. That was an interesting experience.. we both had upper bunks, and after climbing up there (and my ladder was in a weird position so it took a bit of effort!) we realised how precarious they were... they are quite narrow, and the only things preventing you from falling out are two straps from the ceiling to the base of the upper bunk, fairly wide apart. I kept waking up during the night paranoid I was about to fall out! The hurtling speeds of the train didn't help much either! It was better than the bus though.. definitely!

In Bangkok, we met up with the boys again (Simon, Mike and Joel) and spent some time partying in the dodgy areas. The gay clubs were quite fun, heaps better than Connies anyway, much less serious! There seems to be a pretty big gay population in Bangkok, and the guys were fun to dance with and talk to. Dan and Jacky managed to find straight boys amongst all the gay men, which was a pretty good feat! After some big nights, we've been pretty tired in the lead up to christmas. Dan's mum has had fun waking us all up early for breakfast in the hotel (gotta make it down by 10am) . Dan and Jacky also apparently ordered a wake up call for Dan and I at 5am today, but we didn't wake up. I vaguely remember some dreams about a phone ringing, but that's it...

I ran out of Nurofen Plus (ibuprofen + some codeine) and decided I needed more in case I get a migraine while I'm away. I got shot down at the chemist though, because even though yuo can buy all kinds of antibiotics and antidepressants and things over the counter, you can't even buy the tiniest amount of codeine. Not even the small amount that is in regular panadeine! I gave up trying to get codeine.. and bought Tramadol (yes, over the counter). Crazy country!

Okay, I'm sorry this e-mail was out of order and a bit all over the place.. but hey, you get that, I'm tired.

Happy boxing day everyone!

Mandie xx
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Postby slimmindown » Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:24 pm

what a fun action packed christmas Mandie had, she sounds like it is going fantastically too 8)

those bunks sound to scarey for me :shock:
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Postby hushpuppy » Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:35 pm

She is def having a ball . Im envios of all the budget shopping lol
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Postby Ally » Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:41 pm

hehehe Mandie is going to have to have a holiday when she comes home to recover from her holiday!!!
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Postby kate_turner2000 » Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:47 am

Happy 2007 everyone!

After a few early issues with scams and feeling like a walking ATM in Hanoi, and being screwed over by the Vietnamese mafia in Halong Bay, Dan and I are finally getting the hang of Vietnam. I'm starting to really enjoy it here, it's so different to anywhere I have ever been before. The people are great, they try to scam you but if you smile and laugh you can bargain with them, and it's all a game really.. we're doing a lot better now! the best thing is to shop around, find out what other people are paying ( e.g. for hotels etc) and then bargain your way to the best price.

We had fun learning to cross the road in Hanoi. The motorcycle traffic is INSANE. The only road rule seems to be beep your horn every time you pass another moving object (Vietnam is a bad place to be if you have a headache) and otherwise, lane markings, red lights, indicators etc all seem fairly unused here. To cross the road, you just have to step off into the traffic (you can't wait for a gap, there is never a gap!) and walk slowly and steadily straight across the road. If you stop, or run, or change direction, you'll probably be hit. If you just walk steadily and calmly, the motorbikes drive around you. It's really really scary, but we're getting the hang of it. It will be worse in Ho Chi Minh City!

In Hanoi, we met some cool aussies to hang out with, and a french girl, and we had fun hitting the bars with them. We actually had a pretty large crew for NYE in the end, and it turned out to be heaps of fun! Met a random australian girl at the bar who wouldn't stop buying us drinks, so that was even better!

We had an awesome day in Ninh Binh, we hired motorcycle guides (you ride on the back) and they took us around all day. We went to the endangered primate centre (there was a 10 day old gibbon, it was SO cute!), and to the national park and saw a cave (well, Dan went into the cave.. walking into the dark cave seemed a lot like a nightmare to me, I stayed outside), and hiked to a 1000 year old tree. It was not quite as impressive as the trees in south west WA, but still kinda cool. Then our guides took us to a cheap lunch place for pho bo (beef noodle soup, it's a bit of a staple for us now), and then it was off for a drive through the country. Driving through the villages was great, heaps of children were waving and yelling hello (the only english word everyone knows!) and some were giving us high 5s as we drove by! We saw heaps of people working in the rice paddies too, and just going about their daily life, it was really cool. All the vietnamese people wear the typical triangle hats too, I'm getting so used to them!

We headed to Tam Coc (three caves), a place where you hire a boat and the people row you along the lake through three small caves. we got there just as the sun was going down, and the ticket office was closed. We thought we woudl have to give it a miss, but as in everywhere in SE Asia, it was "no problem, no problem" and our guides found a dodgy way for us to get on a boat. We went around a little corner and took a random boat and guide who took us for 50,000dong each (cheaper than the normal tickets!) and we had the whole place to ourselves, no tourists! It was great! Dan helped row, i sat at the front doing nothing.. I totally won that one.. :P

After our day in Ninh Binh we took the overnight bus to Hue.. Not being able to find strepsils or panadol, and having a killer sore throat, i took some tramadol.. hey, it was the only thing in my bag! Needless to say, I slept REALLY well on the bus...

Hue was a bit boring, but okay... we had a really cool day with a vietnamese uni student, we hired bikes and he took us on a personalised tour of his favourite places in Hue! He took us up to the monastry that he will be studying at next year (he wants to be a priest) and we had a little tour and met the priests and everything, it was really nice. I even learned how to say "I'm Jewish" in vietnamese...

Yesterday, it started raining in Hue. Dan and I took a motorcycle tour around, the tombs were cool, but it was annoying having to wear a garbage bag all day (poncho). We caught the bus to Hoi An last night. It STILL hasn't stopped raining, which is REALLY annoying!

On the bright side, Hoi An rocks! We went to a great restaurant last night - you sit down, and they just bring out a mountain of food. The lady comes out and shows you how to make the rice paper rolls with all the stuff, then basically shoves it in your mouth. As soon as you finish one, she comes over to make you another and make you eat it. As you finish off some meat, they bring out more food. It was NUTS! But really really good.

I'm starting to get used to Vietnamese coffee. It's really strong, and really sweet. You ask for coffee with milk, and you get strong black coffee with a couple of spoonfuls of CONDENSED milk. It's an acquired taste, but I'm getting there. I'm worried that I'm going to want it when I get home!

Today, Dan and I started picking out clothes. Hoi An is THE place for tailoring, you can get anything made here. I've ordered a jacket and a skirt and some pants, and also some black boots. Yep, tailor made boots (leather) for US $50... They'll be ready tomorrow. if things turn out well, I might get some other stuff made, like some shirts.. it's so cheap ($10 for a shirt) and you can pick the materials and the patterns and make sure you get the good stuff. Yay for cheap tailoring!

Okay, now I better go.. nearly dinnet time!

Take care everyone and I will write soon - write to me!


Bye!

Mandie :) xx
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Postby Lolly » Sun Jan 07, 2007 6:01 am

I am soooo jealous :oops:

I really want to travel the world but with 3 kids at home it is impossible *sigh* Oh and don't forget the money factor *sigh again*

I will have to settle for travelling around Grafton on foot for now :lol:
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Postby KimE » Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:52 am

She is having an awesome time and I love how she writes. She will be an honorary Vietnamese by the time she gets back.
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