A Travellerspoint blog


all seasons in one day

After spending the last 5 days in a camper van and 3 nights sleeping in it, it is great to have a place to stay. My hostel of choice is The Nunnery. As it suggests by the name it used to be a Nunnery and so is an old style building with great character. The stairway is grand with huge mirrors and paintings in the stairwells. The hallway is quarry tiles and antique furniture, the doors are heavy, the only thing modern about the place is a key card entry system..not to mention the cool nun motif splashed about everywhere including our key cards!

This place certainly had its fair share of characters and crazy people. To name but a few I met some of the long stayers, Eva (NZ), Dave (Ireland), Sarah (Perth), Dane (NZ), Josh (UK), jared (Canada) and Sean (UK). I also met so many other people who like me were only sticking around for a few days. Straight away, Laura and I met a Dutch girl names Meriam who was so much fun to hang around with. On one of our first days we also met two guys from England called Dom and Tom, we checked out Victoria Market which is well known for its cheap fresh food produce and a huge array of clothing. We found a funky hat stall which was loads of fun, the hilariaty being greatly improved by the fact Tom sports a very large beard and has long hair...thus resulting in him often being mistaken as either Jesus or John Lennon!

The five of us hung out for a couple of days, cooking meals together and seeing places like the Botanical Gardens, Foundation Square and other city sights such as Flinders station. It is easy to get around the city as there is a free tourist bus and a fantastic tram system. I am amzed at the trust of the public transport system companies or honesty of Australian citizens as in both Adelaide and Melbourne you buy your tickets on the trams and they are never checked...everyone still buys them though!

I hate to admit to this but the sad fact is that my highlight of Melbourne was visiting the neighbours set! A friend of Dom and Tom had made in Mexico was a local guy called Nick. He offered to take us to Vermount, the suburb in which Pin Oak court is located..aka, Ramsey St. Now this was cool enough but when he turns up in a convertable mark 1 golf that is literally falling apart and the smell of petrol is so great that if anyone decide dto light a cigarette near us it would have probably blown up, it made the trip oh so much more enjoyable.

Now i did warn the others how excited i was going to get but nothing could have prepared them for the overactive child that i became when i found myself in the surreal situation of standing in the middle of Ramsey St. I couldn't help but to have a picture taken of me outside every house and a few more to boot! I chatted to the security guard that ensures people don't wander onto the properties as obviously people live in these houses and are paid a tidy sum to allow filming two times a week and let their house number change, have their car removed from the drive and a number of other continuity issues inflicted upon them.

While in Melbourne i did check out some other city attractions, the Melbourne Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Animation and Moving arts museum being the most notable. Also a few scenic spots of Carlton and Fitzroy gardens that are located across the city were great to chill out in.

Dom and I spent an afternoon at the beach resort of Melbourne, St Kilda. Here is the famous Lunar park, an old skool fairground where the entrance is a large clowns mouth...actually quite terrifying! The beach wasn't that amazing and the wind chill factor didn't make it the best to laze on for that long.We kept ourselves entertained by doing gymnastics, break dancing and body popping (well me attempting anyway!). We took a stroll down the popular and swanky Alders Street. This is every tea drinkers and cake eaters heaven...we couldn't help enduldge and blew our daily budget on the lovliest cakes we could lay our hands on. This street is filled with beautiful people, even the joggers were stunning.

While in Melbourne the Moomba festival was on. This is a 4 day event based around the river. Watched the bird man competition which is always good for a laugh wherever in the world you are. Took a carefree stroll along the river, taking in the fairground atmosphere and all the free entertainment that was put on.

Much of my socialising while in Melbourne was spent in the hostel drinking the notorious goon. Now for those of you that don't know what that is and i am unsure whether i ave explained this in my blog before, is a very cheap alternative to wine. Now no one is really sure what is in this stuff but i think it is fair to say that grapes are not high up on the ingredients list. I have drunk from a box of goon that states that it contains, milk, fish, eggs and nuts. Whatever is in it, it is sure to take you from sober to stupid goon drunk in a matter of around 30 minutes and you can be sure you will have the worst hangover for most part of the next day which gives you plenty of time to try and piece together what antics you got up to the night before! When i did make it out of the hostel, Melbourne had a pretty good nightlife. The nunnery was located in the trendy Fitzroy area which is very popular to go out in. Bars to mention are Bimbo delux, a trendy night club and the Night Kat, where I danced to a 12 piece jazz/salsa band one night. There were several other bars and pubs along Brunswick and Smith st that we checked out too. The scene is quite similar to Camden...a place where every fashion and trend has a place. I also had a cheeky red wine in a very English pub called the Elephant & Wheelbarrow in the city after a hard day lazing in the Botanical Gardens, drinking with the suits who had just left work...the poor souls!

The only thing on the backpacker to do list that i didn't manage to tick box was to go to the Neighbours night in St Kilda to hang out with toadie and lynn and listen to Karl Kennedys band! Something tells me that i didn't miss out on too much!

Posted by Tina Bean 00:36 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Great Ocean Road


After much painstaking flyer posting, phonecalls and meetings I set off to explore the great ocean road with a Canadian girl called Laura and a Dutch guy called Joris in his 70's Nissan campervan called Rosy white clouds.

Laura and i were in the same hostel and she replied to my lift share ad. Joris had contacted me a few days earlier but i had dismissed it as we had found another lift but he failed to show up when we asked to meet him so had to go back to the drawing board.

Joris collected us and after picking up food supplies and fueling Rosy we were off. It was the hottest day and up front in a van sitting on plastic seats and no air con i did think... 'what the hell am i doing!???'

As the scorchio day became evening it all became much more pleasent. In some parts the land was very desert like. We arrived in Robe at around 8pm and set up camp in a campsite with electricity and water. Our first meal expertly cooked on a gas cooker was soup and toast. We dined on a great camping set of tables and chairs. Treated to milo with biscuits we retired to bed so as to make an early start in the morning to head to the Grampians.

We drove to a village called Penola and stopped in the Mary Mckillep memorial park (dedicated to the first saint of Australia) for breakfast.

We then drove onto Hamilton, another quaint village similar to Penola. From here we headed north through the Grampians National park, through Wannon crossing and jimmy creek, this was where the bush fires of 2006 happened. We went on a walk through some of the park lands at several points. We saw an elk that just ignored us as it bathed in a small pool of water. No koalas as yet!

Along the way we stopped to see Mackenzie falls. The walk through the rainforest to it was lovely, many ferns and a type of plant that looks like monkeys tails. Tonight we roughed it in one of the parks campsites. No electricity, running water only by the toilets so our pasta dinner was a challenge made much worse by the running out of gas on the cooker. To speed up the cooking process we were already trying to heat the sauce on the engine! genius!!!!! However, our plan failed and a lovely English couple helped us out and save us from starving by letting us borrow their stove. With our appetites filled, I threw on about 3 layers of clothes in attempt to keep warm in the van.

Another day more sights to see. We stoped in Zumsteins picnic spot and used the BBQ to have eggs, tea and toast for breakfast! We drove several hours to ur first stop, the Bay of Islands, similar to the 12 apostles we knew this was where the great ocean road became stunning. We stopped every 5 minutes to see another beautiful rock formation. We saw the Bay of Martyrs, The grottos, London Bridge, the arch and port cambell forshore. Loch Ard gorge followed, which is several differnt lookouts, the Razorback, the blowhole and thunder caves. All were made up of different types of rock and looked glorious in the sunshine. The ocean holds such power and i decide there that i could watch the waves crash up the rocks all day and not get bored.

Further down the road there was the famous 12 apostles...or 8 as they are now. We only just made it before nightfall so we headed to Princetown to camp for the night. We stayed in a campsite overlooking a beautiful river and rolling hils. After a very cordon bleu meal of beans on toast (i had to introduce this to Laura and Joris as neither had ever had it...would have been better if we hadn't used a contain that had stored washing powder in as they did have a strange tang...added a bit of cheese to mask the taste!) we headed over to the local pub. 9.30 and it was closed...rubbish, really fancied a drink too! We ended up drinking tea and playing cards in the van...life is good!

An early start took us to Melba Gully...a rainforest that we took a few km walk around. We had picked up a Chillian hitch hiker along the way and were taking him as close to Appollo Bay as we were going. We made another stop at Triplet falls which were absolutely beautiful. We hadn't planned to go to Appollo bay but a road diversion forced us to go there so we stopped by the beach and had a picnic lunch. I walked up and down the beach to stretch my legs before the next haul.

From here we were on amazing coastal roads that gave us great views of the ocean. The sun was shining and we had blue skys so it looked stunning...now i know why people say this drive is worth doing. We stopped in Lorne and watch the surfers as the waves here are notorious.

Joris wanted to make a stop in Fairhaven where Simon, his father friend who gave him the camper lives. We met Francis his wife who made us tea and gave us orios which was nice. Once simon had come home he took the kids straight to the beach and asked us to come too. It was quite chilly by this point so i managed a paddle! It is times like this that i really don't understand why i live in London when i could live somewhere like this!!! Both Simon and Francis offered for us to stay the night but we had planned to make it to Melbourne by the end of the day. The offer seemed such a nice idea and gave Joris some time to spend with Simon so we agreed. After dinner Simon took us to a local golf course where i got just a few feet away from a pack of Kangaroos feasting on the lush lawns. There was about 30 of them, some in pairs boxing, others just grazing and some jumping about. It was like nothing i have seen before. Back at the house, the three of us had a relaxed evening chatting about our families and watching 'Open season'...a disney/pixar film.The house was amazingly huge and I stayed in a room with floor to celing windows..such a great view to wake up to.

After a lazy morning and playing on the kids trampoline we drove back to Lorne, i donned a billabong rash vest and i gave body boarding a try. I wasn't bad for my first attempt, even if i do say so myself, caught a few waves. The sea was really cold though so didn't stick it out for long. We then got back on the road stopping in Geelong for some lunch. Melbourne was then only an hour away and after a few days in the country seeing the skyscrapers on the horizon got me in the mood for another city adventure!

Posted by Tina Bean 02:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

I'm in Australia! - Adelaide


Hey all,

Well OK...i've now been in Australia well over a month and i am only just getting around to writing about it!!! That just goes to prove to you what a great time i am having.

So everyone said "why are you going to Adelaide for?" especially all the aussies i met while in S E Asia. They were the most surprised by my first port of call in their home country.

Now just to set the record straight to any of you thinking of coming to Adelaide, its not just a city of churches...they have cathedrals as well..no only kidding, it has lots to offer.

Adelaide was a great start for me as the culture shock of coming back into western society for me was far greater than arriving in Bangkok several months ago. All of a sudden everyone speaks my language, i can read all the signs and nobody is spitting in the street. Adelaide got me used to being back in a western city. It's grid system and american style sinage was a surprise as i was expecting a much more English landscape from what i had been told.

Arriving in Australia i notice that all the homes are massive bungalows, hardly any house. As i move into the city, it strikes me how modern all the buildings are. I am about to spend 4 months in a country where nothing was built much more than 200 years ago!

Before i forget and for those of you that i didn't bore with this sad tale, i was accousted at customs by a dog for trying to get contraband in! First off i had forgotten that i had an orange in my handbag and if that wasn't bad enough when they checked my day pack they found Milo. 500g of the best Milo from Malaysia i tell thee. My god the way the customs officer went off at me threatening me with a $250 fine you think i was carrying kilos of coke and some of the finest heroin around. Apparently the dried milk in milo is a foot and mouth risk or something stupid like that! Like i was planning on sharing it with anyone...it would have just been me to have got sick!!!

Anyway back to Adelaide. So i arrive at Backpack OZ, my hostel for a few nights. Tired from the plane (my own fault...deciding not to sleep as the inflight entertainment and meals are so good!) and my epic city hopping of the past few days i still remain upbeat and try speaking to people. Whether it was because it was only 10am i don't know but the welcome wasn't great.

Not detered by this and due to feeling slightly alone now that i will be travelling alone for the rest of my trip (Kelly, Emily & Lucy all flew to Cairns to work their way south) I decide to busy myself and see the city. I walked solidly for the whole day and visited the Tandanya Aboriginal cultural centre and got to see a guy play the digeridoo and explain how to do it and speak about aboriginal culture and art. Next i visited the Botanical gardens. Very pretty but nothing could have prevented me from having a bit of a cry. It really hit home that i was totally alone in a brand new country on the other side of the world from home. You will all be very glad to here that things went from strength to strengh from that point. After wandering through rundal mall (the shopping area of the city) and checking out the Jam Factory of contemporary arts and crafts I made it back to the hostel and got settled in my room. As soon as i walked in a lovely English girl called Fankie said Hi and soon i was chatting with her and another one of the guys in my dorm, Lee. In true Aussie style, i was quite chuffed that my first meal in Australia was a Barbie. The hostel did a free BBQ every wednesday....result! Not only that but there was also ice cream too. In this one night i met so many people and they all made me part of this huge family that they had formed. It became obvious that some people had been there for several months and were still loving the vibe. I really could see why as i ate my barbie under the stars with everyone laughing and a bar being in the next room with cheap drinks!

With my new travelling companions, Frankie, Lee, Eddie and Will, we jumped in Eddies car and headed to Mount Lofty the following day. Armed with an eskie (cool box) of BBQ food and drinks we checked out the highest point in Adelaide. From Mount Lofty we could see across Adelaide and pin point the small city. We also made a stop in the German village of Handorf. The village was very picturesque...and amazingly authentic in its german style, even Eddie who is Dutch and spent a bit of time in Germany said so. Failing to find a BBQ (in Australia they provide free gas BBQ's in parks and nature spots for you to use...its ace!) in Mt Lofty we headed to Sterling, a small village away. Sitting amongst the teenagers kitted out in their oh so neighbours/home and away style school uniforms and large school issued rucksacks, pashing on the swings, we had a lovely BBQ.

Another day trip while in Adelaide was to the Barossa Valley wine region. Now this was a day plagued by bad luck but still an extremely fun one. Even before we reached our 1st winery, the van got a flat tyre. The driver changed it and wouldn't accept any help from us (mainly girls and the only guy was most certainly gay, so i'm not sure how much help we would have been!). We reached Jacobs creek and they had had a sewage leak and therefore couldn't let us visit. Due to all the time lost changing the tyre we had to visit a restaurant for lunch rather than the BBQ that we were suppose to have. As the driver parked up he scraped the side of the van against a tree!! The lunch was amazing however but it didn't prevent that on the way between wineries, a palate flew off the back of a lorry and into our path causing the driver to swerve off the road....nice!

All this aside, it was a great day. We visited 5 wineries and all got thoroughly drunk. I have now stood in a Jacobs creek vineyard and been to the creek itself! We were talked through the wine making process and shown the equipment used. Frankie and I had loads of fun and decide just to carryt on drinking when we got back to the hostel to make a good friday night out.

Obviously i can't take you through what did day to day in Adelaide as that would take for ages. So in a nut shell other highlights included a bike ride around the city taking in the Oval, Japenese gardens and the riding along the Torrnes river. I visited the Haighs chocolate factory...it sucked compaired to Cadbury's world and one girls i was with actually noted in the comments book that there was not enough free samples! I went to Glenelg beach several times with people from the hostel...once at nightfall and had a few drinks in the town.

I went to stay with Jodie, a girl i met while in Langkawi. She lived just two streets from the beach. It was utterly amazing to leave the house in the morning and be on the beach in under 5 minutes...a dream come true. Jodi, Gemma (friend of Jodie's who i met in Langkawi too) and I went out for Chinese in the city one evening but others were spent relaxing on her balcony sipping on wine taking in the spectacular beach views. Jodie also owned a turtle who she took out of the tank in the evenings when she was home. It would take refuge under the bean bag...strange animal! While i was there i walked from Glenelg to Brighton Beach. Compaired to many of the beaches in Thailand this beach just goes on for miles. The weather was glorious and the sand so yellow.One major difference from thailand is that the beach is straight on he road rather than having lots of beach bars! This doesn't take away from its beauty however and the contempory house along the beach front is all asthetically pleasing.

Jodie and her boyfriend Dave were so hospitable and let me treat the flat like my own...massive thanks to them.

So during my time at Backpack Oz i met lots of lovely people. Fun nights out were had at PJ O'Briens, a live music venue with an Irish bar theme, the austral...a trendy bar not far from the hostel and the terrible but cheap drinks nights at the club, church! So many others were spent staying in at the hostel, my last nighgt was particularly memorable with twister and pictonary being played by all. It really was a great atmosphere at this hostel and I was sad to leave when the time came to hit the great ocean road

Posted by Tina Bean 01:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

3 Cities, 5 days!


Hey all,

Well yet another manic session of my travels (its a tough life..isn't it!). In a nutshell I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on 17th February from the Cameron Highlands. When we got there it was throwing it down with rain..it was monsoon weather that i have never seen before. We checked into a hostel with a Canadian guy that we had met in the highlands...only a 4 bed dorm so it was Kelly, Em and myself and him so not bad for a first hostel experience!

Em and I checked out the city once the rain had stopped. We took a wander around and saw so many types of architecture...Mosques, the high court buildings. In the centre of the city they have a huge flagpole at the foot of a park. To the opposite side of the mosques, there is a row of tudor houses. If that wasn't enough of a mix, there was a newly developed wharf style parade of buidings that incorporates the National history Museum. Em and I checked it out but unfortunately it wasn't too inspiring!

From there we strolled around the central market making a few jewlery purchases. The market is indoor and is just shop after shop of the same sorts of stuff, however you could get a t-shirt printed to your design too! If by now we hadn't had enough of browsing the local wares we went to chinatown. Due to the chinese new year we were told that it was a quiet day...well i'd hate to see a busy day. It was humid and bustling, stall after stall of knocked off merchandise.

We were total glutons for punishment and on our way home we bypassed the Suria KLCC shopping centre, the biggest mall in Malaysia. Our hostel was right opposite so we didn't have far to drag our weary bodies!

On the 18th we had a bit of a splurge and checked into the renaisasance hotel...for only 23 quid each night we had pure luxury that was so desperately needed. Dressing gowns, slippers, complimentary tea and coffee, tv with cable, internet access,a bathroom and bed to die for, a desk (not sure why i needed to state that!) and best of all a gym and an outdoor swimming pool. I steered clear of the gym but after day two of checking out the city i took a well earned nightime dip, looking over the KL skyline! Our view was also stunning from our room, the KL tower was directly in front of us!

Our day was spent checking out the city as Kelly was now with us. We went to the Lake gardens and had a picnic in one of the many parks. There was a bird park and butterfly & orchid gardens to also see. We had booked ourself into seeing the Petronas towers first and had to return at 3.30. This resulted in us rushing around on the Monorail and only just making it. The view from the bridge between the towers was spectacular. Well worth the rush!

That evening we all got dressed up for dinner. The girls surprised me with a cake that they had asked the staff to bring out with a candle on. The hotel had really gone to town and what had started as 4 pieces of carrot cake became one large cake decorated beautifully with cherries,strawberries, cream and a chocolate plaque saying 'happy birthday ms Tina'. The waitressing staff all came over and sang me happy birthday...it was such a fantastic surprise. Kelly had also bought me a few gifts too which was amazing. We ended the night by drinking and eating cake in the hotel bar!

So from KL we travelled to Singapore and I stayed at sleepy sams hostel for only 1 night. A truly great location, set in a backstreet full of botique shops and cafes. We visited the long bar at Raffles and had singapore slings and threw our peanut shells on the floor!

The following day we did a whistle stop tour of the city. First we jumped on a bus to the Botanical Gardens followed by a stroll down the infamous shopping mecca of Orchard Road. Everywhere is so clean and well maintained...London could sure learn a thing or two!

We then got the MRT to Chinatown and took in the scene, stalls of more local wares everywhere. A very quaint area with town house style buildings. Clarke quay was our next stop. We took a river walk along the quay and through the wharf area where there are lots of modern bars and restaurants. Everywhere is so spotless and well maintained, its a place of perfection! I then continued alone to Little India. At last somewhere not spotless! It consisted of one main street with about 4 side streets filled with lots of gold jewlery stores, souviner shops and restaurants.

I made my way back to the hostel and the time i was dreading had arrived. I had to say goodbye (well for a bit anyway) to Kelly, Emily and Lucy who have been my fantastic travelling partners for the last 3 and a half months in SE Asia. They saw me off at the MRT. Hopefully we will meet along the east coast of Oz somewhere. So off I went to get to the airport for my flight to Adelaide. The nearly 8 hour journey seemed a breeze after all the long distance bus rides i have endured in SE Asia.

So all is well, I am now in Adelaide and loving my Oz experience so far. An Adelaide Blog will also hopefully follow soon.

Hope all are well, take care, miss you all

T xx

Posted by Tina Bean 18:13 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Malaysia- Langkawi & The Cameron Highlands

all seasons in one day

Hey all,

I know, i know, i still haven't finished my island hopping entry but i thought you would all like to know what i have been up to of recent weeks!

So from Ko Tao, myself, Emily and a crazy but lovely irish guy called Consi who we adopted as our daddy (he even sorted out our accomodation in Ko Tao!!) travelled to Langkawi. Now this was all good fun in retrospect. We had a 2 hour delay on our ferry from Ko Tao to Chumphon (mainland Thailand). It was a pretty choppy crossing. We were picked up from the ferry in a lorry without the full cab on the back...instead a roof with bars on the sides and benches along each side. For 20km we travelled with a bunch of japenese tourists and were taken to the 'farang bar'. These guys were great, they organised our onwards travel to Hat Yai while we ate...even going to the train station to book our tickets!

Our train was so much fun...not! Consi and I took economy seats while Em got a sleeper! Now i was happy with the seats but didn't want air con but boy did i get it! We were in a wind tunnel to say the least and the locals didn't seem to understand the concept of shutting them but instead wearing kenny from south park type jackets. Thats cool for them but when you have come from a thai islands and are wearing shorts and a strappy top, not so good. Consi finally gave in and pulled out a fleece for himself and i ended up with his golf jacket...it was such a hot look!

At 5.30am we arrived and we met jackie chan in the tour operators. We organised our onward travel and i made it my mission for a cup of tea. I finally got one in a nearby run down cafe, made with boiled water in a saucepan, tea leaves and condensed milk to taste (they don't have fresh milk in thailand very often!). It was a great cuppa!

After a mini bus ride and another ferry journey we eventually got to Langkawi. We picked up Luke, a guy who had overstayed his visa for 1 day in thailand and owed 500 bhat, which he didn't have. Daddy consi came to the rescue and lent him it.

We stayed at Gecko...a really relaxed guesthouse. Naturally we had the most expensive room but this didn't stop there from being geckos and ants in inhabitance in it! However to make up for it, the bed was so comfy and i had a double to myself!

The beach in Cenang was beautiful, the widest stretch of sand i have seen so far but murky waters compaired to thailand. The sunsets were stunning. Met two girls from Adelaide, Jodie and Gemma, who i have arranged to meet when i get there in a few days. Also met the owners of Lazy Bouys who run a water sports and boat tour operation..except i never saw any of them work...hence the company name! They organised a party on the beach for jodie for her birthday and we had cake, wine and Jack and coke!

We hired a car for two days and saw most of the island. We went on the cable cars which overlooked some of the 99 islands in the malaysia archipologo and had fantastic views. We also saw a waterfall and seven wells. On the 2nd day we headed to a beach north of the island which was very hot but beautiful!

Met some great people and 7 of us took an island hopping tour where we saw a fresh water lake, the pregnant lady mountains, eagle feeding and a deseted island, except for some monkeys that is...one of which stole a guys shirt! Frisbee and chilling out listening to music was so relaxing!

As per usual a mad night was had, drinking in the guesthouse and then onto the beach. This is what happens when you can buy a litre bottle of smirnoff vodka in duty free for 25 Ringet (just over 3 pounds!)

5 days soon passed and we then headed onto the Cameron highlands. Had a bit of a nightmare journey which ended up in us arriving at 4am in the morning and the guesthouse i planned on staying in to be closed. We checked in elsewhere and in the morning headed back to Fathers guesthouse. Great atmosphere with a fantastic lounge where they show films. The weather was totally different. Langkawi was 42c in the midday sun, c.Highlands....about 20c!!! and raining!!!

The 1st day we just checked out Tanah Rata which is one of the three towns that makes up the Cameron highlands, the 2nd we went on a rainforest walk. We learnt so many things about the plants and insect...also got up close and personal with a few which was quite upsetting!

Had a really relaxed time, no alchol consumed...a two day record!

Now in KL...will write soon to fill you in...off to bed now

Hope all are well, take care, have fun and i miss you all

T xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Tina Bean 08:37 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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