A Travellerspoint blog


sunny 33 °C

Sorry for not blogging, had no internet on sunday and limited yesterday!

Saturday 7.12.13
Went for a walk around Leon to and got so lost so many times but thats the best way to see things!!! i saw obviously poor houses and potentially more wealthy ones, people everywhere, corn like there is in Kenya, little shops, big shops, everything really! This might sound very blind and naive of me, but it really doesnt appear as poverty-striken as i expected it to... Went for lunch in a little cafe and had to point at the food due to my lack of spanish.. i think i made a friend though because the server guy gave me a big smile and wave at when i left! that evening was the festival for the concepcion of Maria where there was music and fireworks and a small parade of massive puppets in the streets. after this all the kids went up to the doorways with shrines to Maria in them and sang a song and got candy in return. It was SO SO busy with people and i was with some Americans who are going to uni in managua and this german guy. we just walked around laughing and the Americans tried to get candy. Later i caught a bus with the german guy to what i thought was a beach party. Met up with a girl and a guy i had drinks with on Friday night. Turned out it was not a beach party it was a massive party set back from the beach with an open bar and DJ. it was SO much fun.

Sunday 8.12.13
Very hungover i woke up at 8.30 to go volcano boarding. Hopped on the bus with 20 other gringos and it took about an hour to get to cerro negro. We had to walk up the volcano and took photos at the crater. We saw the place where the next eruption is likely to originate from with steam coming from the ground. We donned bright orange jumpsuits and one by one flew down the volcano. My speed was clocked to be 25 km but im sure i was going faster at points, i kept on falling off! Took the bus back then i went to have a well deserved rest/nap in one of the hammocks in the hostel. I tried the street food too. Delicious meat cook on a bbq in front of you, potato and cheese and fried haloumi on rice and beans. SO DELICIOUS!!

Monday 9.12.13
Was sitting in the hostel cafe eating breakfast and heard polish girl called nathalia who i met on friday night, say she was going to Granada. I asked if i might join as this was the general direction i was planning on going. We ended up going to a place called laguna de apoyo which is basically a crater lake inside a collapsed volcano. It was pretty spectacular. Unfortunately the hostel we wanted was fully booked so we went to another called the Peace Project. It was really beautiful but as the name suggests peaceful. I was thinking of maybe doing a spanish course here but within and hour of arriving it was pouring with rain and i realised it would probably be quite boring by myself. So that evening we had a relaxed dinner (I had beef fajitas, DELICIOUS!!!) and went to bed early planning on getting up at 5.30 to see the sunrise.

Tuesday 10.12.13
Heard the alarm and did not get up haha. I did manage to drag myself out of bed at 6 and the clouds over the lake were pink which was pretty cool. but then i went promptly back to sleep. Woke up again at 8 and nathalia and i dragged 2 kayaks down to the water and went on a little adventure. I had my camera and was freaking out but it turned out okay thank goodness! Nathalia jumped in and then her kayak floated away. I had to try to catch it and then bring it back, not an easy task thats for sure. We got out and scoffed breakfast of fried banana and cheese and caught the bus to granada. Literally arrived half an hour ago but from what ive seen i quite like this city. It reminds me with smells and sight a lot of India.

Just a note that i wont be able to upload photos from my camera because i forgot the cord! all the photos are from my phone...

Posted by alexD 11:36 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)


semi-overcast 30 °C

Here we go again!! Right now im in Nicaragua having spent the last 36 hours travelling. I am sitting in a little internet cafe/laundry opposite the hostel trying to use time until its an appropriate time to sleep!!

The flights were fine, I made a friend in my 10 hour stopover in LA and we went to Venice Beach and Santa Monica having a look around.

Arrived in Managua (the capital of Nicaragua) and took a taxi to the bus stop for Leon, then took a bus. In Leon too this wierd little taxi that is basically a box attached to a bicycle that people (kids) ride around in. Life flashed before my eyes more than once.. Pretty sure im getting ripped off left right and centre, but thats part of it and im too tired to care!

From the very little that ive seen the town in small with old style buildings, although i havent seen much. Apparently tomorrow is a festival in Leon similar to Halloween that celebrates the Virgin Mary or something like that. Should be very interesting!!! The hostel is amazing. Its pretty big, has a bar and restaurant and a courtyard that is gorgeous!

So far my lack of Spanish is proving a little difficult.. think i may be changing my plan to include a week long spanish course. Basics would be nice!

Im off to probably eat food in the hostel restuarant and be asleep by 8 :)

Posted by alexD 15:10 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

thailand and malaysia

sunny 30 °C

SO not much else to say about koh phangan except to talk about new years! WOO! we actually went out. i know. raise the roof. we are awesome. no, but really, it was olivias birthday so we went to the nice beach during the day and i had the most GOD AWFUL curry ever. i wanted to vomit. we listened to a 50 year old who sounded 15..... 'maannnn' (and had the mannerisms of one too). she entertained me for a good half hour. and we sunbaked. pretty shocking stuff considering we were on an island in thailand...

got back, slept, ate and then i put on my nice top for the first time (and make-up! what????) and had a pretty good night! i had just discovered that anti-biotics would get rid of my sickness so was on them, but was wary to drink. dont actually know what happens when you get drunk and your on anti biotics, but i get the feeling its generally not good. despite this, i still had a couple of cruisers and posed with a bucket, and we danced where there was danceable-to music (a lot of it was trance... saw this old guy dancing by himself, hugging himself and im pretty sure he was high.... ) and came across A LOT, and i mean a lot of creepy, creepy guys. that was interesting. we found this lovely half malaysian half aussie guy with his sister and male lover (we later came to the conclusion that they we not indeed gay, it was a way to get girls to trust him and not immediately say no. awks, cause it worked...) who bought us a drink. had a lot of guys offer us sips from there bucketsx, one guy accidently dunked olivias camera in his bucket... gooood. the other thing that was there was a fire skipping rope and later a fire hoop. mix this with a lot of drunk guys and you get the medical facilities making bucket loads. obviously people stuffed up and there ankles and legs and stomach and arms and even there faces got burnt. but did they care? not til the next day! we met a girl who said she met a girl, whod been pushed intot he skipping rope, stumbled over it and then a bunch of guys had jumped on top of her and she had to be pulled out. she had completley burnt ankles and feet :/ i just thought it was the stupidest thing you could possibly want to do really, but plenty of people disagreed with me, obviously. so new years came and went and we arrived back at our bungalow about 3ish, slept, and then left koh phangan on the 2nd of january (after 2 solid days of rain) for koh samui.

we definitely pushed in the line to get on the boat. sorry! thank god we did though, there would have been at least a hundred people stranded, even after the last boat of the day left i reckon! got to koh samui and went to the 2nd main beach, lamai. we arrived by share taxi in lamai and got soaked immediately. i have never seen so much rain. rain rain rain. everywhere. we were dropped off, not in the town, which sucked, and walked 20 minutes, went into heaps of places where it was a casual 50-100 dollars a night (even the shit places). found a dodgy little 'resort' for the grand total of 8 dollars a night and settled in as best as you can settle into a damp cellbox that smelt, had a leaking bathroom and an uncomfotable mattress. and it rained for 3 days straight, so we spent all our time inside. lovely. seriously, some of my clothes still smell damp! luckily we found a relatively cheap, MUCH nicer resort, with a TV! granted the main english channel was cartoons, but still! so we spent another 2 nights here! and the sun came out :) we suntanned and sat at the beast side resturants and it was really quite nice.

after samui, we came to malaysia to renew our visa. after a slightly stressful time, thinking that the roads would be flooded (the reputable company that goes to penang said they were), it was a pretty unstressful, if long trip! we left at 7am and arrived at 11pm, with a few breaks in between. we found our hostel thing, which is great and slept. and olivia got bitten that made her eye swell up the size of half a pingpong ball. so our first day was spent going to the doctors and her icing her eye, and the second and third and fouth and fifth were just as uneventful. we have been so so lazy while we have been here, i dont really know why because we have constantly complained of boredom too... i guess since we are coming home so soon, and i am a bit of 'cultural stuff' temples just dont seem so appealing. having said that, i really like georgetown in penang and if we had used our time productively, probably would have come back with some stories. oops! ah well.

5 days till the family comes.
16 days till i arrive home.

Posted by alexD 02:19 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)


overcast 28 °C

left england, no problems, onto more exciting things, THAILAND!! yes, we have arrived (20 days ago), the last stop of the trip!!! crazy crazy times.

anyway, got to bangkok airport and tried to get a taxi but everywhere was saying 4000 baht which is like 120 bucks. eventually we found the government taxis where it only cost 400 :) got to our accommodation which was amazing!! a fairly big room with 2 single beds and a shared bathroom, but it was about 10 minutes away from the main 'tourist' rd, Khaosan, so it was quiet at night. when we where shown our rooms there was this cat on a pole, just watching us, but it looks so wretched and scared, it was quite funny at the time.

over the next few days went to khaosan rd which has about a gazillion shops come stalls selling pretty much the same as vic night market and also went at night where street vendors sell pad thai and resturants sell over priced food. also went to some temples like Wat Pho that has the biggest reclining Buddha in Thailand (i think) and basically just chilled, tried to get over jet lag and eat yummy thai food!

after bangkok we went up to Chiang Mai which is in the north of thailand basically in the jungle. a lot of people say its more 'real thailand' than bangkok or the south, and its definitely more authentic than the south but its definitely NOT the 'real' thailand. anyway, when there we went to the night market again, similar to khasan, just BIGGER and we also went on a trek! the trek was really good. at first we stopped off at some 'hill tribes' which was bascially thai people in tradtional dress sellling things. i felt so awkward, like we were in a zoo and they were the animals. apparently we were allowed to take pictures but it was super awkward because the vendors werent very forthcoming. in the end i bought something and then took a picture, which i felt was fair. after that we got dropped off at the trek starting point. we stopped at another village which was literally just houses and 2 children, who im pretty sure tried to take things from my bag, but i caught them in time. we walked for a couple of hours and our guide stopped us at one point to tell us a story, only problem was there were like 2 bees who wouldnt leave us alone so i wasnt very interested in the story. the only thing i can remember from it was that there was a snake that wanted to become a monk, became a monk, then everyone was scared and when you become a monk you are now asked the question 'are you human?' to which you have to answer 'yes'. good. im pretty sure there was more to the story but, as i said, i was distracted. we arrived at our stop for the night which was basically 2 sleeping houses, 2 houses for the family that lived there and a 'shop'. the sleeping houses were pretty cool though, definitley different. you lay on the floor on these mats and had a couple of blankets and a pillow that was shaped like, and felt like a brick. we were told by a girl who was doing a longer trek than us that it got super cold at night so we stole blankets from the free beds and were toasty warm, if uncomfotable from the pillows. that night we had this vegetable stew and something else that i cant remember and rice, it was actually pretty good. by 6 it was pretty much dark and i wanted to head to bed, but i knew i wouldnt be able to sleep. anyway, ended up staying up to be one of the last awake (and yet i still went to bed at 8.30) watching these 3 other aussies smoke weed from a bong, both of which were bought at the 'shop'. although i didnt participate, it was pretty funny to watch!

the next day we headed off to so some activities! first we rode an elephant into a river, where (it seemed) to try to drown itself, and us too, then we rode it properly and fed it bananas! it was really nice, but the people controlling the elephants hit them pretty hard and one had blood all over its head. i mean, yes, they are HUGE creatures, but they are still wild and it wasnt very nice to watch the people hit them. then we did a zipline, which was a massive joke. advertised as 19 ziplines 20-something km, it turned out to be one zipline across a river. i was pretty dissapointed about that, but got over it. we also did a bamboo raft and whitewater rafting!! white water riding was my favourite, i cant wait to do it again :)

we arrived back at our guesthouse pretty exhausted and spent the next day chilling, waiting for the bus to take us back to bangkok. i got a smoothie from a smoothie place in somprethet market which is the best smoothie/muesli, fruit and yoghurt place in thailand i reckon and we said goodbye to the owners of the resturant we went to a couple of times and then we headed for the bus stop. got on the bus and it was FREEZING cold. olivia was in shorts too! until 1am, when the bus stopped to get refreshments and use the toilet. after that they turned the aircon off and we actually got some sleep! when we got to bangkok we headed straight to kanchanaburi, which is home to 'the bride over the river kwai'. here we chilled, the bathroom STUNK (and unfortunately it was a private bathroom, so our room stunk to), we went to the bridge and the museum and it was pretty nice. the river is stunning!

after kanchanburi we headed down to koh phangan. after a sleeper train, a bus ride, a boat ride and a share taxi ride later, we are now here, at 'thai dee garden' in a pretty nice bungalow, in haad rin, the party place on the island, but just outside the main town so its still pretty quiet at night (except when the 2 english boys, one of which is very good looking, decide to argue at 3am every morning). so far, i have got sick, we rode a moped to a near by town, olivia crashed a moped and has a very bad bruise, olivia might be getting sick and we havnt partied. gooooood. the beach in haad rin is pretty awful. the 'nice' beach is full of people playing volleyball and soccer and you basically feel like your on show, and the other beach isnt a beach. i dont know what the lonely planet people were on when they went to the other beach, but when we went there today the sea was full of rubbish and sea weed and dead birds, and that was pretty much what the sand was like too. and the sand was like less than 2 metres deep at its deepest point, so even when there was a clean patch, it was pretty much impossible to like down. needless to say i gave up on that beach pretty quickly. i was hot and coulndt even swim in the water!

that said, we went to a beach by long boat yesterday and it was amazing. there were quite a few people and i did feel like i was being sat on slightly, bu the view of the limestone cliffs and the colour of the water and the general atmosphere was so so so nice. i really really liked it!!! and the water was amazing to swim in too.

so screw the other beach, im going to the nice one :)

Posted by alexD 01:21 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)


sunny 15 °C

Soooooooooooo long since posts, once again.

Anyway, I left you at me in Barcelona waiting to meet mum in Madrid. The Barcelona main train station is like an airport, had to go through all sort of security and everything!!! Got on the train, no glitches, arrived in Madrid and found Hotel Francisco II and may I say, it was a VERY nice hotel. Basically in the centre of Madrid right near plaza de sol and it had heaps of charm, little wooden windows that opened onto the cobbled street below and it was just generally lovely. Settled down to wait the 10 hours before mum arrived. Had a few (yes a few, it was clean and I didn’t have to wear flip flops) showers, watched some Spanish mtv, got some food and bummed away the afternoon. Mum was meant to be arriving at 9ish (if memory serves), so obviously I would wait up for her. No such luck, flight delayed 2 + hours and I definitely went to sleep. I have to say a highlight of this trip would be hearing a knock on the door and ‘ally!’ and then creeping (not sure why I did this, but I did) up to the door, throwing it open, giving mum the BIGGEST hug and seeing the doorman laugh and grandma just look slightly (but happily) bewildered. Left with mum and gma to find some food. Now my experience of Spain is that they don’t eat till the late hours of the evening and granted it was 11, but EVERYWHERE was closed. I thought we would be set, but it was actually really difficult! Mum and gma ended up getting some pizza and then we all got smoothies from a bar later (yes, food places closed, smoothie places not). Set off the next day to enjoy Madrid and took gma on an EPIC walk, literally 3-4 hours in very hot weather (epic for her, anyway). I don’t think grandma has done so much exercise since she was much, much younger. We did stop along the way to get fishy olives (not the intention for them to be fishy, I did not like) and a well-deserved diet coke, but she did really really well, and I saw parts of Madrid I hadn’t seen previously. Can’t remember what we got for actual meals in Madrid but I do remember we went to the food market right next to the main plaza and I had sushi (not bad actually!) and then we had my favourite European food, of which I do not know the name, a greasy, cheesy flaky pastry roll that was DIVINE, and a little bread thing with sundried tomatoes and cheese on it too. We tried to find them again in Spain, but were sadly, unsuccessful.

Day 3: went to collect the car from atocha railway station, taxi driver dropped us off a fair walk away and needless to say we got lost finding the car hire place. Good start. Driving out and trying to find a way out of Madrid was a night mare. To be honest my strategy was just get out of Madrid onto any road, work out where we were and then find a route to where we were going to. Didn’t quite work out that smoothly, as in we went for ages on a road, with no sign telling us what it was, and no turn off. Finally worked out our way to Salamanca and we were off. Pretty nothing countryside, but I have to say a high point was, when we turned off for refreshment, grandma choosing to have a beer at 11 in the morning, and I’m not ashamed to say this became a theme of the trip. Go grandma haha. Arrived in Salamanca, found our hotel which was very good, once again, not quite in the centre but it did mean we got a good night’s sleep! Headed down to town and just sat and had an ice-cream and had a look around town.

Not sure of the order of things we did in Salamanca but this is the general gist. Had a look at the cathedral where we went into the old bit and the new bit and mum and I climbed to the top of the tower. It was pretty good, as far as churches go, very, very, big. Had a look at the university and snuck into the exit, meaning we didn’t have to pay. Go us ha. It was very very nice. For me, Salamanca rivalled Granada for a place I’d like to come back to, so it was pretty beautiful. We sat in lots of main streets, drank sangria, wine (well gma and mum did) and i had coke and orange juice (what a party animal) and we found this resurant just outside the main square that did the incredible goats cheese salads, and gazpachos. And pretty good mains, with unlimited wine and coffee or dessert at the end. It was a very nice place. We went there twice . On the last night when we decided to be adventurous and it wasn’t so busy, we went to a restaurant in the main square that, sadly, was pretty average. On one of the days the med kids from the uni were celebrating the day of their patron saint (or something like that) and were all dressed up and partying, there was quite a festive atmosphere that day. Especially, when, by 3 most of them were staggering around drunk. But yes, I loved loved loved Salamanca and would seriously consider coming back there to study.

THEN we went to Toledo. The drive there was fantastic. It was so pretty, in fact we stopped off at this rock place that looked over onto the lake with the Spanish hills as a back drop. It was breathtaking. (words can’t really describe it, it was really unique). And we stopped off in a small Spanish town for lunch, where, through sign language and my very limited knowledge of Spanish (most of which I have since forgotten) we ordered a platter of chorizo, cheese, ham, olives and bread with coke for me and mum and a beer for grandma. Yum!

We found our hotel in Toledo. It happened to be at the very very bottom of a very very steep hill. Perfect for grandmas. Not. AND there was hardly anywhere to park and driving through those narrow streets is more heart stopping than any view when you’re driving a rental car and a scratch could cost A LOT of money… Unfortunately we couldn’t cancel our accommodation and find somewhere else so we ended up taking a taxi in and out of the main town (which ended up being, basically on the top of a hill. I don’t think there were any flat surfaces, except where there were restaurants, and sometimes not even then) anyway, so Toledo is not a grandma friendly place. Nevertheless we made the most of it, took an open top bus around the outskirts of town (to steep and narrow for the buses to actually go INTO town) had some amazing garlic fish (possibly swordfish, I know we had this in Alicante) and very nice paella. And grandma suggested we have a pina colada, so we did haha.

Alicante was our last stop in Spain. The drive was looooooong. But we got to our hotel and it was right on the beach! We didn’t have a sea view, but as mum pointed out, probably quieter that way. Not that it mattered in the end as grandma snored SO LOUDLY. At one point mum and I were both awake at 1am on our phones on Facebook, laughing and quietly despairing at the same time. I think grandma thought something was wrong at one point in the day time as I may have snapped a bit, but I couldn’t tell her, shed kept me awake. And she would have denied it anyway. We spent our afternoons on the beach (and got massages from some Asian ladies who eventually swamped us and literally after the first one finished, they all came up and asked if we wanted another. Ah, no, we just had one. In the end, it got a bit heated and they backed off, but one settled in front of us and one behind and mum compared it to the mafia attacking us. hahaha) and mum and I walked up to the train station to buy my ticket to Madrid and we had fantastic food with another very good paella on our last night and that was basically it. We did take the open top bus again to get to the castle on the top of a hill which mum and I explored and gma sat at the bottom, but it was just a very nice lazy time.

The day I was meant to be catching a train to Paris, everything went wrong. We got lost when we only had to do a right turn, then another, then a left. So I missed that train and we decided that we would just all go back to Madrid and I would catch the fast train that was expensive. After 2 hours of driving around in circles basically, mum got us on the right road (yay!) and we drove the 5 hour drive to Madrid. Thank GOD atocha was easy to find, and thank god I missed my train really, because if mum had to find it with only gma to help, not sure it would have ended well… dropped off the car and I went to buy my train ticket. This is the series of events andi really don’t want to dwell on it, as it still makes me feel stressed.

Lined up for half an hour in the wrong line for the train I wanted but COULD catch another one to Paris, buying the ticket there.

Lined up in another line for half an hour to find I couldn’t book the train I wanted because the guy was a nong, and obviously new, as he said I couldn’t possibly have purchased the tickets I did, from where I did, BUT I DID AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOURE DOING.

And ended up buying a ticket for a train that left in an hour and would take me 45 minutes to get to. So I had nearly zero time to say bye to mum and gma and no time to get food (which we had been planning to get from the market with the cheesy things). I was stressed and emotional to say the least!

Got on this awful train with seats that didn’t recline (I was meant to be sleeping on a lovely sleeper train at this point, the one I missed) and evidently a gazillion mosquitoes as I woke up the next day and discovered bites up and down my shoulders and all along my back, I have never ever been bitten so bad. Arrived in Paris and got to our 17 euro a night hostel with rats and a gazillion people squished into the room and dodgy people outside that followed you and made sure you didn’t go out at night (then again it was 17 euros, compared to a 30 euro place, so we can’t complain). Found Olivia and found out she had been to Versailles the day before, bit sad, as I would like to have seen it, having studied the revolution and all but that’s life, and we went out to the Louvre (got in for free, yay uk passport) and I had a crepe and chestnuts and we went to Notre dame (which was beautiful, but SO crowded we only stayed in there for like 10 minutes…) and that’s about it. And we booked Disneyland!

The next day we went couch surfing! It was an… experience. They guy was 40something, the lady 30 something. We suggested we would make dinner on one of the nights at like 5ish and at 7 they were like, so you’re cooking tonight? We were like, what??? We don’t have any ingredients! So we rushed to the shop and luckily they were still open, rushed back and cooked chicken parmas. The next night the lady, who was Indonesian, made us Indonesian food which was quite nice. We had cinnamon bananas but then also this weird sweet, mushed asparagus and something else equally as strange and then a really sweet, meat thing on top. It was interesting, in, I think, not such a good way… so glad we have done couch surfing, but might wait til I do it again. Good experience, but not great! (and to be honest I think the hosts felt the same way)

Flew back to London to meet mum once again to go to Susies (my godmothers) for a few days. Met her adopted son and her saw iz, her daughter again and just had a really good time. Went into London and visited the infamous mnm world and had an incredible lunch at tgi Fridays where mum and I, without conferring, managed to order the same things including deserts and met penny, mums other oldest friend besides Susie, again. And then it was time to say good bye. Was at the bus depot and yeah, it was sad. Got to will and Karen’s and bummed around and then on the 1st of November, went to Artic Monkeys!! I have to say, I was not so excited about going. No idea why I bought a ticket as I have really not listened to their music, BUT I had a really really good time. It was hot and sweaty and there were a lot of 15 year olds in the mosh pit creating trouble so I got out and just enjoyed the music form the side, and I have to say, gladly, that it was worth going.

On the 3rd Olivia left for Italy, and on the 5th I left for grandmas, where I drank a lot of tea, ate a lot of cake and played a lot of scrabble and then on the 7th went back to Susie’s where it was discussed that I would kind of babysit the kids when needed. So for the past 3 weeks that’s what I have been doing! (Interspersed with going up o London on the weekend to Susie’s apartment and Cleo helping out after the first week) I have loved it. I won’t lie, it is hard work, and sometimes I’m exhausted, but the little boy is absolutely gorgeous and iz is so sweet and means so well, so at the end of the day, it’s really fantastic. And spending so much time with Susie has been great too! It sucks living in another country, I’d really like to pop over for coffee or to babysit occasionally when I go home, but it’s a bit hard when you’re on the other side of the world! And I want to say a massive public thank you to Susie for letting me stay in her home and look after her kids. You are so generous and I really can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for me. I will miss you and the kids so so so much, I don’t want to think about it!

So, in a week I will be heading back to Bridgwater to say goodbye to will and Karen and Joe and Anna and saying another massive thank you to them for ferrying us around and saving us bus fares, as well as putting us up for such a long period of time (sorry our rooms got so messy, it’s incredibly hard living out of a backpack when you’re staying in one place!). you, as well, have been very generous and I’m so grateful! And then in another week after that we are flying to Thailand! As of today, 59 days till we arrive home!

Posted by alexD 09:14 Archived in England Comments (0)

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