A Travellerspoint blog

Love me a robust cheddar!

sunny 25 °C

HAPPY NEW YEAR Y'ALL!! A little belated we know, but better late than never! The holidays in Australia were quite the experience! Nothing like 30 degrees plus to make ya feel like Christmas. First of all, we have a few shout outs to make. To our families and Canadian friends: Christmas wasn't the same without ya; to cheap Canadian liquor prices (and even cheaper American prices): we miss you; to awesome Christmas movie classics: why you no on TV in Australia; to our livers: we're sorry and to our AMAZING friends here in Australia: thank you for making this Christmas season one we'll never forget!

Christmas Eve was the start of it all! With a backyard fire and some drinks, it felt more like a hot July night then anything remotely related to Christmas! The lack of Christmas music didn't help, had some good ol' country tunes on the go... people are probably starting to get sick of the country music but meh! lol
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Christmas Day was really different but fun! We had a BBQ with our Melbourne fam (minus Pauly:() and just really enjoyed the sunshine. The kiddie pools were brought out, there was some drinks flowin, and there may have been a Scottish lad in his underwear... we're not complaining though:) It was a really chill day, we ate tons of food.... really anything opposite of what you would consider traditional Christmas food but it was still quite amazing! Most notable was this potent cheddar cheese from Tasmania which Hayley described as robust... and those English know their cheese so we just went with it:) We even got a few little treats from our UK friends which was super thoughtful! If we couldn't be at home, spending it with them was the next best thing:)
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The week following Christmas was eventful! One of the coolest things was going to the Astor Theatre in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda. The theatre is actually an old cinema built in 1936, and everything in it represents that time period. We saw the movie 'The Sting'.. anyone who is a Robert Redford or Paul Newman fan will know this movie! The whole experience was just really fascinating. After the movie we went to a couple bars in the area. The first, we can't remember the name but it was your basic bar...the second bar, however, was right sweet! It's called Bridie O'Reilly's and you guessed it O'Leary's lovers... it's an Irish pub! We at first thought we were going into a museum, it had that old heritage building look to it. It had a sweet live band which, of course, we automatically rocked out to..Erica would have been in groupie heaven, and sorry Julie.. no drumsticks were obtained. That night will also be the night that goes down in history as the night that Hayley lost her Irish Car Bomb virginity. They were a bargain at $17 dollars.... according to LeeAnn... when in actual fact, three Irish Car Bombs cost $37 bucks which she realized two days later... HOLAY expensive shots! lol Either way... night was sweet and we're planning a return trip! Also a couple of awesome Melbournian girls joined us for the evening! Candice and Mel! Candice works at the YHA we were staying at and Mel is her housemate! Loved them, we can't wait to get to know them better!
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That week our friend Lynsey also left to go back to Brisbane. It was really quick and it was really sad to see her go. That's the nature of travel though! However, it was the first person that we've spent any amount of time with that we had to say bye to, so it was strangely hard!

We got some news over the holidays that our brilliant and hilarious friends, Wendy and Scott, that we met in Fiji, were coming to Melbourne for New Years celebrations! We seriously were looking forward to seeing them again! We spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Beer Deluxe, at Federation Square, just having a laugh and catching up. It's strange because we hardly have spent any amount of time with them but we felt like we were catching up with old friends. We genuinely enjoy their company and hopefully we've made a connection that will last a lifetime! We're trying to convince them to meet us in Perth for a little vacay, so guys if you're reading this... it is now on the internet for the world to see.. that means it's official! We're definitely going to make a stop at their place, which is 2 hours outside of Sydney, sometime within the next year... so be prepared guys.. the crazy Canadians are coming over!

That brings us to 'dun dun dun' NEW YEARS EVE!!!!!!!!! Just envision the sweetest night you've ever had... add some stellar 90's tunes and a bunch of 20 year old boys and you pretty much have our amazing NYE experience! We scored some tickets from LeeAnn's work friend to this bar called Perseverance... which is a 90's bar on Brunswick Street. We were joined by our lovely ladies... Candice, Hayley and Sophie! I think we knew the words to every single song that was played, it was like a throwback to junior high! All that was needed were some sick bangs and extreme bell bottom jeans! We were surprised at how many young fellers were there... especially since we're pretty sure they weren't even born when most of the music came out! But they had the gift of flattery working for them when they thought we were only about 22. :) The fact that we didn't get home until 5 am is a testament to how good the night was!
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Since then life has slowed down a bit..one night we went to Lygon Street which is a hot spot for good Italian food in Melbourne. It was one of the best meals we've had since we've been here! Afterwards, we enjoyed a good night in with Paul, Hayley and Chris and played....wait for it... SOCIABLES!!! We feel like we've changed their lives by introducing them to the beloved Canadian drinking game! It made us a little nostalgic.. nothing like a Friday night with a good ol' kitchen party to make ya miss home.
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We've also frequented the night market... every single Wednesday since we have been here except one! We love it! The goal is to try every food stand... and there is only about 100 soooo we feel its an attainable goal!

So basically our blogs have turned into reviews of the several bars we've tried... lol .. but we are who we are... and our Australian experience has been amazing! All the amazing bars, restaurants and nights out we have talked about are seriously amplified by the great people we've been experiencing them with! It's going to be hard when it's time to move on but it just means that the next great adventure is right around the corner! In the coming weeks we're hoping to do the Grampians, the Mornington Peninsula, and Phillip Island.... and maybe some wine regions of Victoria... so stay tuned! :)

Good night San Diego,
Giselle and LeeAnn! :)
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Posted by freerangechicks 02:09 Archived in Australia Tagged australia newyearseve Comments (0)

Christmas in the 'burbs

sunny 34 °C

So, we know we said we were going to be less slack and not take forever before the next post but obviously that didn't happen. It's been almost three weeks since our last one and we have a ton to tell you all about!

First off, the Great Ocean Road! What a time we had! Words can't even describe how beautiful and amazing it was. We decided to take five days to do it justice. We rented a little car.. had a few technical difficulties in the first 100 km but Giselle played mechanic and we got it all sorted out. The first day we spent driving to Apollo Bay and seeing all the sites a long the way. Most notable, were the amazing surf beaches (think really fit boys in wetsuits), including the infamous Bells Beach just outside of Torquay. We stopped in a couple of the little towns to explore the local areas. We hiked to a few lookouts and some water falls and took a bunch of pictures!
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At the end of the first day we found ourselves in Apollo Bay where we set up camp for two nights at the Eco YHA. What an amazing hostel! So clean, so modern and just really exceeded expectations. It was super relaxing, there was a wood stove in the common room in which we enjoyed a few bevvies. The second day in Apollo Bay we did about 7 hours of nature hiking in the Otway National Park. You'd think we'd be exhausted but we were so amped up of adrenaline from possible run-ins with poisonous wildlife that we hiked for way longer than we should of. One beautiful site to note is the Cape Otway Lighthouse, which is the oldest still functioning lighthouse in Australia. Another amazing experience was the treetop walk we did through the otway rainforest. It was super high and kind of scary but really sweet. Oh, and on the way to the lighthouse we got to see some wild koalas up close. We were hoping to capture one for Daman but we forgot our blow darts.
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We were super exhausted after bushwhacking through Aus but if you know us you know were never too tired for a drink so we spent the second night chillin around the fire with some wine. We met an English couple that night, Emily and Ed, and spent a good four hours having a good laugh with them! Hilarious couple and on their honeymoon, hosteling around Australia which we thought was really right on.

After Apollo Bay we made our way to Port Fairy, which is another few hours drive! The coastline is absolutely amazing and we got to see the iconic Twelve Apostles and get the must-have tourist pictures with them. It was really awesome, but there was so many people that we truly enjoyed our time we spent at the smaller sites better, not to take away from the Twelve Apostles, it was just insane!

We absolutely fell in love with Port Fairy. It reminded us a lot of St. Andrews, with all the heritage buildings and the small town feel. Our hostel was an OLD building, built back in the early 1800's, we were a bit sketched out due to potential spiders(and we felt like we were kids at sleep away camp with our wooden bunks), however we ended up settling in quite nicely. There we met two lovely English ladies, very well traveled and worldly and we talked to them for hours! One thing we did was drive through Tower Hill which is a dormant volcano inhabited by loads of wildlife such as kangaroos, emus, wallabies, rabbits etc. We were in awe! The last day on our little roadie we spent at the beach where a huge regatta was going on, never seen so many men in speedos in our lives! We basically spent our two days there at the beach and just exploring the little town. Hopefully we can stop in again for a visit on our way to Adelaide.

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So we got back to Melbourne and we've spent the last two or so weeks in the YHA. We haven't really done a ton of things since we've been back, just job hunted and have gone out a few nights to different bars. LeeAnn is officially employed in Melbourne, working for a river cruise company mainly in the office but she'll get to work on the boats occasionally! It's a pretty sweet deal!

We kind of made a little group of friends there, majority from the UK and one Darwin Legend..lol. We ended up rooming with two Scottish guys, Paul and Chris. We loved them! Paul's kind of a guys guy, really funny and dry but a true gentleman, very protective and kept an eye out for us when the drinks got flowin!! Chris is just lovely, sweet and kind and we thought the world of him, and also hilarious!! Take notes back home boys! We have to send a shout out to our two girls Hayley and Lynsey. Hayley is from England and it honestly feels like we've known her our whole lives, shes really easy to be around and just one of those people that you can relate to! She's super funny, our friends back home would love her, especially since she can freestyle rap with the best of em. Lynsey is quiet and lovely! She's really easy to talk to and also great for a good time! And then there's the Darwin Legend.. aka James! James is not like anyone we've ever met, but he feels like a combination of so many people we love! We feel fortunate to have met all of these awesome people! It's truly the people you meet a long the way that make travelling an authentic experience. Every traveler sees the sites, and does cool things.. but finding friends in people that are from all corners of the world makes the difference.

So now were actually house sitting for four weeks in the burbs! It's a sweet deal, we get away from hostel living and shared everything to having our own space! AND free living for a month! Can't beat it!

Today was insanely hot, and it's the friggen 23rd of December, we feel like we're in the middle of the twilight zone. Not complaining, but just really weird.

Our Christmas plans include spending some time with our Melbourne friends and sitting in kiddie pools and drinking beer. Ya know, normal Christmas day things! We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas back home, especially to our families and close friends! We miss you and love you all! We're glad we have each other to spend the holidays but you guys are all a constant thought!

Posted by freerangechicks 03:13 Archived in Australia Tagged australia christmas greatoceanroad Comments (1)

Shorts, Sandals.. and Christmas?

semi-overcast 17 °C
View Trip #1 on freerangechicks's travel map.

It's been a while since our last update, not cause lack of things to write, but because we've been going balls to the wall since our previous post!

Our last post was a bit rushed because of time so there was a few things we forgot to mention! For one, how delicious and cheap local food is in Fiji! We legit ate for like less than 100 Canadian each for the 8 days we spent in Savusavu. That includes the four or five times we ate at local restaurants! We cooked our own meals usually and bought most of our ingredients from the local market. The fresh fruit was unbelievable... and we got a little pineapple happy since they were $1 Fijian (approx. 60 cents Canadian) each! And these weren't no Sobey's pineapples, they were just picked, unpreserved and tastey! The mangoes, bananas, and passionfruits were high on the consumption list too!

Secondly, driving on the left side of the road was ridiculous and hilarious! Giselle drove and Leeann navigated and kept us on the proper side of the road when things got confusing and the crazy Fiji drivers were every which way! Traffic laws are a little slack to say the least, but we loved every second of it.. even had some traditional Fijian music playing whenever the CD player decided to kick in. We spent a lot of time waving back to the local villagers that were calling and waving at us like crazy, it was very endearing actually. We also witnessed some pretty decent scenery (were not talking about the palm trees) driving past a few rugby practices that were taking place on several of about three billion rugby fields in Fiji.

Our last few days in Fiji were absolutely awesome! We did some snorkelling right out in front of our beach house, which was really cool, there were little circles of coral reef everywhere! We even played tugboat, as one of our kayaks had a leak, so we only had one kayak and this surfboard thing. We took turns bombing around the bay pulling each other, one in the kayak paddling and one behind being towed on the surfboard. We had a good laugh and anyone watching definitely got quite the show. We spent a whole afternoon entertaining ourselves like this until the wind starting getting fresh and a storm started to roll in. Those one foot waves felt like ten feet as we paddled against them.
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Our last night in Savusavu we went out with our Fijian friends, Mela and Shelley, that we met at the Decked Out Cafe! They took us to a house party with there friends and we were welcomed in as if we were family, we've seriously never have experienced hospitality like we did for our 8 days in that little town. We had each bought our own booze to drink, but as soon as we got there our Fijian hosts offered us a drink in a oversized shot glass. Everyone takes a turn drinking (shooting) the liquor in the glass, no matter whoses drink it is. This is what the Fijians call Taki, we are pretty sure it means everybody drinks and makes sense to the Fijian culture as they share everything and will give you anything they have. Our hostess also had a cat, named Shane, which we thought was absolutely hilarious for a Fijian to have a cat named Shane. The cat was quiet and white which made it even funnier as our human friend Shane is freakily similar. After a few (and by a few, probably 30) rounds of Taki, we made our way to the Decked Out for some local live music and more drinks! There were more rounds of Taki, and it was legit gasoline we think, it was this potent bourbon and coke mixture that LeeAnn plastered the bushes with later in the evening. The band was amazing, they played a mixture of Fijian tunes and 70's throwback music, which is like prime dancing music! We loved it! It was seriously one of the most awesome nights we've both had ever! It didn't matter where we from, we were embraced by everyone there and we are definitely going to try to go back to Savusavu on our way back to Canada!
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We left Savusavu for the main island two days before our flight to Melbourne, just to avoid any natural disasters keeping us on Vanua Levu. We stayed at Smugglers Cove which is a little backpacker resort right on the beach about ten minutes from the Nadi airport! Our time there was pretty uneventful, we just relaxed, swam, drank and tried not to die in the crazy heat. We met some awesome people there though! Most notable an English guy, Duncan, or as we call him.. English D Money! There were actually a few Englishmen around, good for a drink and a laugh!

So now were in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia! After our six hour flight from Fiji, we were more than relieved to not have to board another plane in the near future. We're staying at the YHA Metro Melbourne, which is a pretty sweet hostel There are people here from all over the world! Our first couple nights here we ended up being in separate rooms and LeeAnn actually barged in on some youngin's (were talking no chest hair) with no shirts on because she was given the wrong room key. Hilarious to us, they probably felt a little violated as grown women laughed in their faces.

The thing we first noticed about Melbourne is how multi-cultural it is! There are people here from everywhere.. you can tell from the shops, the restaurants, the theatres everything.. that this city is home to many cultures! We love it! Melbourne is actually so diverse, that we've only met a handful of actual Australians!

The second things is how strange it is that Christmas is almost here! The temps are 20 degrees plus and the city is plastered with Christmas decorations and sales and music! We have to remind ourselves often what time of year it is. It kind of feels like the twilight zone to be wearing shorts and tank tops in December!

The food scene in Melbourne is crazy..... the variety of food that can be found here can suit anybodys taste! We've tried some incredible places, lots of fantastic vegetarian food for Giselle, and tons of great coffee for LeeAnn! One of the coolest things we've done is gone to a bar where you can order take away from three different places, right to your bar table while you keep boozing! We ordered from an African food take away place that was soo good and so unlike anything we've ever had! We're definitely going to go back! Another cool thing was the Suzuki night market, which is Wednesday nights in the summer at Queen Victoria Market, one of Melbourne's famous markets. There was nothing short of a 100 different food and drink vendors with food from every region of the world. It took us an hour to decide what we wanted to eat because there was so much choice. There was also live music and tons of people, an overall great atmosphere to be a part of! The night market will probably end up being a weekly thing for us while we are in Melbourne.
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Since we've been here we have not stopped. We've basically walked about 10km a day to get everything done we've had to get done.. we better have some ripped legs after all this. We got our bank accounts set up, mobile numbers set up, located the nearest bottle shop (aka liquor store) and have just been getting orientated! We've met a couple of really cool people, a Dutch girl, Sophie, who spent a few days touring the city with us and guy from Chile who was in our info session for Work N Holiday! We've also met some people at our hostel and at our work n holiday office that we've been getting to know. Over the next couple weeks, were going to get our resumes out so we can work for a few months before our next destination (Tasmania or Western Australia) and were planning a small road trip along the Great Ocean Road. Anyone who knows anything about Australia has heard of the Great Ocean Road and we can't wait to see it!

This is such a long blog post so we'll try to update more frequently so people aren't reading a novel! Maybe by the next update we'll have seen our first kangaroo, hopefully one that'll let us see whats really in that pouch!

Reporting to you from the future,
Giselle and LeeAnn.

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Posted by freerangechicks 10:40 Archived in Australia Tagged australia fiji christmas Comments (1)

Sunburnt and Awesome

sunny 40 °C
View Trip #1 on freerangechicks's travel map.

BULA!! We are where each new day begins, as Fiji is in the first time zone of the world! It is truly the most beautiful place we have ever seen! Fiji is so rich in many ways; rich in culture, rich in tradition, and rich in its people!

So we left Los Angeles and had a realllyy long flight to Nadi, Viti Levu, Fiji! We sat next to a Fijian woman named Eva, who was so unbelievably nice.. a definite preview of the warmth and sincerity the Fijian people have shown us since we’ve arrived! We had a really long wait at the Nadi airport before our flight to Savusavu, Vanua Levu! The flight over was interesting to say the least, a 21 seater sea plane that didn’t quite keep the rain out... there was a few heart in throat moments! But we made it!
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From the moment we landed we couldn’t get over the rolling mountains and beautiful harbour that make the backdrop for the little town! We got a ride from the airport to town with the mailman, who was very friendly and got us a cab to the Navure Beach Lodge where we are staying, just outside of town on a dirt road! We were greeted by our housekeeper, a little Indian woman named Malti, with hugs and kisses! She was very motherly and hustled us about showing us the place, and also informed us that we were very sweaty, in case it wasn’t obvious to us..lol

So in the five days we’ve been here in Savusavu we’ve done so much! The first day we explored our beach area and found some coconuts that had fallen from palm trees and spent a good 3 hours trying to get into them, and we were successful!

The second day we spent the day in town, went to the market and met some locals! They welcomed us in like family, and have been so hospitable! Amazing! We made friends with the girl that works at the liquor store (go figure), Cassie, she’s probably around our age and is hilarious and sweet! She introduced us to Fiji Bitter Beer and Bounty Rum (58% Fijian Rum, basically like drinking gas, but still awesome). We met a man at the tourism place named Edward, again super nice and very educated and gave us a lot of information on Fiji and what we should do here on Vanua Levu!

The last couple days we’ve spent cruising around the island! We rented a sweet little SUV and, took in the things that Edward told us to do! We went to the Fijian village of Vuadomo and met the people and swam in a beautiful waterfall on their land! Two local villagers, Veronica (loved her, so loud and full of energy) and Epeli, showed us around and introduced us to everyone and hiked with us to the waterfall! We brought a gift of kava root, and participated in a gift receiving ceremony, sevusevu, with the chief and some of the village people. We’re not sure what they were saying but we just clapped awkwardly when they did lol. Very cool experience! Then we had lunch at an eco farm called the Palmlea Lodge, owned by Julie and Joe! The place was closed when we got there but Julie insisted she cook us lunch anwyays and they let us swim in their pool! Just another example of the amazing hospitality shown to us. We also went to the bigger town of Labasa on the northern part of the Island, it thrived with Indian culture, all the shops, the people, the dress, everything – even a Chicken Express (we both thought of you, Mikey)! It was pretty much little India.
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Yesterday we spent the day at a place the locals call the Blue Lagoon! Beautiful beach and awesome swimming! We met an Australia couple, Wendy and Scott, at a local watering hole called the Decked Out Cafe! They joined us for the afternoon and we had a few drinks and laughs and it was all in all a wicket fun day! Wendy and Scott invited us over some afternoon for mojitos and swimming in their pool which we are definitely going to take them up on!

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Now we are sitting in town, by the harbour contemplating if we’ll be judged (since it’s not even 11 am) if we go order a drink at the Decked Out !

We love this place and we seriously don’t want to leave! Maybe we can make a pit stop on our way home next year!

VINAKA,
Giselle and LeeAnn! 

Posted by freerangechicks 12:41 Archived in Fiji Tagged savusavu Comments (5)

En Route

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Trip #1 on freerangechicks's travel map.

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So were sitting here at the airport in LA... with our celeb stalking goggles on, but no luck yet! We got an hour and half before we depart for Fiji so we're still hoping!

We're not quite sure about the internet sitch at our place we're staying in Fiji so we're gonna take this opportunity to update before we get there.

The last couple of weeks have been absolutely insane! With packing and goodbyes, it just feels like time flew! We also had an awesome going away party, tons of fun! What we can remember anyways! It was really hard to say good bye to our loved ones! They've shown us so much support and love, it was extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact we won't see them for a year or so. So to everyone back home, thank you!

LeeAnn left a week earlier to visit home so we met up in Vancouver last night to start our travels together! All the flights were smooth, we got our luggage so we were off to a pretty good start...until.. we got on the wrong shuttle and went to the wrong hotel! Partly our fault, partly the bus drivers fault..either way not an ideal thing to happen. So, instead of taking a cab or going back to the airport to get our correct shuttle we decided to walk.. with our backpacks.. through Vancouver..needless to say we got a few strange looks. We felt it was like an initiation for this whole trip, and decided if we couldn't walk five blocks with our backpacks then we should probably reconsider our backpacking plans. All we're saying, is we better be jacked after this trip.

So today we left Vancouver for Fiji, via LA. Flying into LA was unreal, the urban sprawl is absolutely insane, with grids of buildings and roads stretching for miles. Makes Saint John look tiny! We definitely had our hopes set on seeing Ryan Gosling, but we're probably going to be disappointed! Even though we just got to experience LA at the airport, it was good enough for us!

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On our flight from Van and in the check out line we met some Fijian people! We thought Canadians were nice, these people were so friendly and so proud of their country it made us feel privileged to be visiting their home. They gave us some great tips on how to experience Fiji to the fullest! Can't wait to try Lovo food! Lovo is a tradition in which food is cooked underground and covered with leaves from different plants. When we get to Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu we are catching a small island hopper plane to another island called Vanua Levu! That is where we are spending the majority of our Fiji adventure. We rented a small beach house outside the town of Savusavu, a popular cruiser port due to the nature of the bay. Hopefully we can experience some traditional Fijian ceremonies, eat some delicious local food, and do some snorkeling on the beautiful soft coral reefs.

We'll try to update you on the events of our couple weeks in Fiji asap, but now we have to go get ready to board our 11 hour flight (ugh)! Hopefully the humidity doesn't knock us off our feet tomorrow when we get off the plane, but we're definitely looking forward to bathing suit weather and having a few cocktails (maintenance beers) in the sun!

Au revoir North America!

Giselle and LeeAnn xo

Posted by freerangechicks 19:43 Archived in USA Tagged fiji la vancouver airports Comments (1)

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