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Adventure Travel, Far East: Inspired by Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, National Geographic

Far East Adventure Travel. Inspiring, entertaining. Let John Saboe take you on journeys filled with spiritual celebrations and rituals, ancient festivals, wildlife safaris, trekking and climbing quests and vast array of food cultures. Learn about village life, cultural differences, urban exploration, street food, history and architecture. Visit Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, and Korea. Stories and advice from one of the most exciting destinations on the planet-Asia.
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Adventure Travel, Far East: Inspired by Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, National Geographic
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Now displaying: June, 2017
Jun 30, 2017
Bukhansan National Park is almost 80 sq/km in size and is located so close to the urban area of Seoul, South Korea that it’s possible to take the subway here, like I did on this visit. I started out in Insadong and transferred to line number 1 and rode the train until the very last stop of Dobongsan, which is actually the name of the mountain I’m going to hike up today. I think it’s important wherever you are hiking to stake out a place to have a beer or coffee and something to eat afterwards,. Some motivation or a reward to think about as you’re making your way to the top and of course something to contemplate as you safely get back down. It’s a bit of a hike itself just to get to the entrance of the park from the subway station, passing through what seems like a galleria of hiking and outdoor stores, Koreans love their outdoor gear. Plus there’s loads of restaurants and stalls selling food. I’m going to grab some gimbap, Korea’s version of sushi, the perfect picnic or hiking meal. Some say gimbap was inspired by the tekkamaki sushi rolls eaten by the Japanese soldiers that were present here during Japan’s rule of the country. Others say it is totally an original food of Korea, Either its the perfect dish to stuff in my backpack along with some kimchi, Korea’s national spicy pickled cabbage dish. Finally it feels like I’ve arrived in the park or at least I’m alot closer. I spot this very cool relief style map of Bukhansan and all of the mountains that are hikeable. Rock climbing is also a huge sport here. Bukhansan National Park was established in 1983. Being so close to the urban sprawl of Seoul, which is the third largest urban area in the world and an area population of over 25 million it’s a very popular recreation area. In fact at least 5 million people visit the park every year making it the most visited national park per square kilometer in the world. Another added feature of hiking in Bukhansan National park are the Buddhist temples that are scattered throughout the mountains. The first one I come across is Gwangnyun-sa. Shaminism was widely practised in Korea before the introduction of Buddhism in 372. Because Buddhism did not conflict with the nature worship of shaminism it was allowed to blend with the indigenous religion. Because spirits were believed to inhabit the mountains in pre-Buddhist times they became the home to many temples. The trails here are well marked so it’s pretty easy to stay on course. Dobongsan mountain is made up of 5 peaks and on this day I will go to it’s highest, Jaunbong Peak at 740m. It’s not a hard hike if you are in reasonably good shape. OK Mr. positive I would like to see some amazing views but It’s just not going to happen today. Too bad because this peak looks absolutely spectacular from this photo point image. Even with a little light adjustment it only makes the trees stand out. The trails are quiet though and normally this place is crowded with hikers sometimes causing traffic jams. Within Bukhansan National Park you can see up to 1300 different kinds of flora and fauna, Bukhansanseong Fortress with over 2000 years of history and over 100 Buddhist Temples and monk cells. Bukhansan is also a birder’s paradise with a chance to see among other species the great spotted woodpecker. On this day I’m just going to have to settle for this spotted cat! I was getting closer to Jaunbong Peak but with the skies appearing to become darker the threat of rain was looming. I was hoping I would make it all the way to the top before a downpour. When it rains in this part of the world the showers are fierce and sometimes torrential. In East Asia you have to be prepared with rain gear, like a poncho or an umbrella, so long as there’s no lightning. With the heat and humidity in the summer months jackets, unless they are of the lightest material, will most likely cause you to melt. Because the skies were cloudy with the possibility of rain few hikers were here. Normally on a sunny day this trail can be backed up with people trying to get to the top. Wow, this was really a special feeling in the mountains of South Korea, only 20km from the border of North Korea amongst these beautiful rock formations. Just can’t see past these rocky of Dobongsan but on a sunny day this small area of Jaunbong would be packed with people. Oh yeah, gotta get the selfie in here. Hey think about it, if they had this ability back in the day do you realize Edmund Hillary would have actually had a picture of himself on the top of Mt. Everest. So laugh if you will but they are a great way to record your achievement. OK not even close to anything in the Himalaya let alone Everest but a great day hike with some incredible scenery and guess what-it just started to rain as I made it to the top. I will definitely come back to explore more of Bukhansan National Park in South Korea. There are so many trails, interesting sites and temples that I can’t wait to see. Now where was that place I staked out earlier for a much earned beer. I know it’s somewhere around here…. Write A Podcast Review:
Jun 29, 2017
East Asia is such a super friendly place for foreigners with efficient subway or MRT lines throughout all major cities including Seoul, South Korea. All stations have English signs and all stops are announced in English. Namsan mountain is the most well-known of the four guardian mountains of Seoul with the famous landmark, Seoul N Tower topping the 262m peak. It’s not a challenging or particularly strenuous hike but it’s a nice break from the chaotic megalopolis below. It’s also a great way to join locals in their everyday activities and experience the fitness and hiking culture of the city. If you start your hike from the gondola station it’s extremely easy to find your way with signs in English everywhere. This is more like a vigorous walk in a park than a mountain hike. No rough trails to deal with. Stairs everywhere and there’s even rubberized sections of the trail to lessen the impact of hiking on a hard surface. When it comes to activities like this Koreans really know how to makes things comfortable. This may look like a road but it’s pedestrian only! On the way you’ll see sites you can check out like Waryongmyo, a Buddhist/Daoist/Shamanist Shrine dedicated to Zhuge Liang, a Chinese statesman and general who lived from 181-234 AD. As you meander up the trail you’ll start to get views of Seoul and the surrounding mountains. It’s a wonderful way to appreciated the city where half the population of the country lives. It’s easy to enjoy the serene atmosphere of the walk up Namsan. You’ll also have views of N Seoul Tower. The N stands for Namsan, nature and New look from a 2005 15 billion won remodelling project. Namsan is a popular place for Seoulites to visit on the weekend with many spots available for picnics and other outdoor activities. Namsan is considered Seoul’s principal park. It averages 23,000 visits a day. Every April a Cherry blossom festival takes place across Seoul with the longest avenue of Cherry trees anywhere in the city at Namsan mountain. There was a haze and clouds over the surrounding mountains of Seoul on the day I visited Namsan. There are 37 mountains in the greater Seoul area, many easily accessed by subway or bus. One of the most fascinating things I saw along the hike was Sukhojung, an archery field that dates back to 1630, still in operation today. Archery had played a prominent role in the defence of the country, particularly on Namsan mountain, one of the sites of The Fortress Wall of Seoul, the shield that protected the city from invaders. This outdoor gym was a sign I was getting closer to the direct stairs to the top of the mountain. As you get higher each step has a built in rubber cushion making it a little easier on the knees and joints. Koreans are real outdoor enthusiasts that also appreciate making the activity comfortable and convenient with covered rest areas, washrooms, and these wonderfully comfortable stairs. As I was on final approach to the top, with the tower now in direct sight the views opened up to show even though this is one of the most densely populated places in the world there are still large visible green spaces in greater Seoul. Follow Namsan’s portion of the Fortress Wall of Seoul, first constructed in 1396, and you’ll understand the strategic importance of the four guardian mountains and this wall that protected the city during the Joeson Dynasty. When I reached the top I was just in time for the patrolling and lighting ceremony reenactment of Namsan Bongsudae. There were 5 Bondsudae stations on Namsan during the Joeson Dynasty used to communicate political and military information to the king with beacons. Bongsu is the combination of the words bong, meaning torchlight, and su, meaning smoke. At the peak of the Joeson Dynasty there were 673 beacons located throughout the Korean peninsula. This Bongsudae on Namsan was reconstructed in 1993. It was an extremely warm and humid day so these sprinklers were a relief from the heat for everyone. More views directly under N Seoul Tower, which has been open to the public and showcasing views of the city and surrounding area since 1980. These locks underneath the tower are symbols of love from the countless dates that have taken place here over time. You can check out how many different languages love messages are written in, on these symbols of a forever lasting love. Or leave your own, but it looks like all the good views are gone. I like everyday activities, like cycling, hiking or walking in an urban area I’m visiting. The feeling of participating in the same daily workout or exercise that locals enjoy, like Namsan Mountain, makes me feel more engaged and like I’m actually living in the place rather than just being a sightseer or tourist. Next time you’re in Seoul, South Korea try hiking one of the mountains for a break from the busy city, a sense of touching everyday life, maybe even a little bit of history, and some pretty amazing views.
Jun 25, 2017
I will confess right up front! I am not a meat-eater so that’s why you don’t see me trying anything that has meat in it at this year’s Food Taipei. I do eat fish and seafood but for many years now I have not eaten, beef, chicken, pork, or any other animal. That may sound like a challenging diet to uphold especially in East Asia but that’s not the case at all. In fact, Taiwan and specifically Taipei is a fantastic city to be a complete vegetarian or even vegan for that matter. Recently PETA Asia voted Taipei the number vegan-friendly city in Asia followed by Singapore. There are lots of modern or contemporary vegan style restaurants in the city but it’s also the traditional vegetarian buffet style restaurants that are popular with the Buddhist community that help to make it a convenient place for vegans. So of course my tasting of some of the snacks and food at this year’s Food Taipei show, one of the biggest of it’s kind in East Asia, leaned towards vegetarian with a few seafood treats throw in. All of this food is delicious and I believe even if you are a meat eater you would still enjoy these snacks at or in between regular meals. This was a great show held over three days at two sites, the Taipei World Trade Center and Nangang Exhibition Center. Food exhibitors from all over the world come to this Food Taipei every year to showcase their products but I was more interested in sharing Asian food, particularly some of the products and specialities of Taiwan. Hope you enjoy the video and subscribe to the channel! Please feel free to leave comments. I would love to get your feedback on what else you would like to see as I continue to explore Asia and the Far East. For as little as $1/month you can become a sponsor of my channel and the Far East Adventure Travel Podcasts and have access to exclusive content along with other offers. Visit my Patreon page to find out more:https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4035923 Support Far East Adventure Travel-Write a Review in iTunes-https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/adventure-travel-far-east-inspired-by-rick-steves-lonely/id890305531?mt=2 Music courtesy of:http://www.purple-planet.com
Jun 20, 2017
How do you figure out which temples to see in Bangkok when there are over 400 of them? Here are the top 3 that should be on anyone’s list. I’ll explore more in another episode but here’s where to start. This may be enough for your first trip to Bangkok, Thailand. Let’s start the tour! Number 3, Wat Arun. Even though it’s name means temple of dawn this is a wonderful site best enjoyed at sunset. Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, some consider it the most beautiful temple in Thailand. It’s prang or spire on the banks of the river is a world-class landmark. At the time of my visit, Wat Arun was undergoing major renovations as you can see by the scaffolding. Wat Arun held the great Emerald Buddha before it was transferred to Wat Phra Kaew at the Grand Palace. In fact the temple was part of the grounds of the royal palace where it was located before it was moved in 1785. Wat Arun glistens in the golden hour at sunset. It’s intricate craftmanship of tiny pieces of glass and Chinese porcelain artfully placed on the prang and other structures is an unforgettable site. You can get to Wat Arun via Tha Tien Pier also called Pier 8 right after you visit the number 2 temple. Wat Pho, home of the reclining Buddha. This temple complex is perfect for just wandering as most people will show up, check out the 46 meter long Buddha and immediately leave. You’ll have lots of space to enjoy the atmosphere of a world-class heritage site and the largest collection of Buddha statues in Thailand. Wat Pho was the first public university in the country and is also home to the top massage school. This is where you can experience a more therapeutic rather than soothing massage. Book ahead otherwise you may have a long wait which can eat into precious exploring time. Of course you also want to savour the presence of this incredible reclining Buddha that’s covered in gold leaf. This image is the Buddha entering Nirvana thus ending reincarnations. The statue is 46 meters long and 15 meters high with the soles of the feet at 3 meters height and inlaid with mother of pearl. There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor representing the 108 auspicious characters of the Buddha. You can purchase a bowl of coins you can use to drop in the bowls for good fortune, which also aids the monks in preserving the reclining Buddha and Wat Pho. The sound the coins make when dropping is pretty cool in the giant hall. Wat Pho is within walking distance of the number one temple to visit in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew or the temple of the Emerald Buddha, located within the Grand Palace complex. Because Wat Phra Kaew doesn’t house any monks it is more like a personal chapel for the royal family than an actual temple. The emerald Buddha is considered the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. It is made of a single block of jade and is 66 centimeters or 26 inches high, cloaked in three different gold costumes appropriate for the three seasons, wet and hot, and winter, the cool season. No photographs or video are allowed inside the chapel but you can spend as much time as you like enjoying the Buddha and interior of the structure. This is the spiritual heart of Thailand and the top tourist attraction of Bangkok with thousands of visitors daily. There is a dress code and you will be stopped by officials if your clothing is deemed inappropriate. I’ll leave a link in the video description for your reference. In fact most if not all Buddhist temples in Thailand have specific requirements for appropriate clothing. The Grand Palace is crowded and most of the time, an extremely hot place with no air conditioning so pace yourself. To avoid some of the bigger crowds it’s best to start as early as possible, the complex opens at 8:30 everyday. Conceivably you could see all top 3 temples in one day. Starting out at The Grand Palace, then stopping for a coffee or tea beak in a cool cafe around Tha Thien or Pier 8, which is close by Wat Pho and the reclining Buddha. Then visiting Wat Pho before a leisurely lunch around Tha Tien. Then finishing off your tour with a river crossing to Wat Arun in the late afternoon and perhaps enjoying the sunset from one of the best spots in the city. Help others discover Far East Adventure Travel in iTunes! Write a Review: Dress Code For Royal Urn at Grand Palace-Bangkok, Thailand: Regular Dress Code: Music Credits Indore Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ Mystic Force Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
Jun 16, 2017
Taipei, Taiwan has one of the most efficient and reliable MRT or public rapid transit systems in the world. Locals are used to the convenience but if you are visiting either for a short or extended time to Taipei you are in store for a comfortable, safe, and easy way to get around the city. There are 5 main lines of the Taipei Metro which consists of a mix of underground and above ground infrastructure with a total of 108 stations. This does not include the airport service as this is a separate entity called Taoyuan MRT. I highly recommend downloading either the IOS or android Taipei MRT app available in The App Store and Google Play. This will help you plan your day while you’re having a coffee in your hotel room or at breakfast. All of the stations are also searchable online with full descriptions including in most cases major sites that are close by. You can purchase single journey tokens but you’ll save alot of time, especially if you’re traveling during rush hour, to pick up either a TaipeiPass card or an Easycard. You can purchase TaipeiPass cards at any MRT station and at most convenient stores including 7-Eleven. They are available in 1,2,3, and 5 day unlimited use cards. There is also an additional 1 day + card that can be used on the Maokong Gondola next to the Taipei Zoo. These passes are for unlimited use on the Taipei Metro, not including bus routes with four digit buses for their time frame so there’s no lead to load or reload them. TaipeiPass Cards: If you’re planning on taking some bus trips or train rides to Northern Taiwan besides using the MRT then you may want to purchase an Easycard instead for NT$100. You’ll have to load money onto it but the EasyCard is more flexible than the TaipeiPass. EasyCards can be purchased at all MRT stations. Using the Easycard gives you a 20% discount on single journey fares on the MRT and 10% on local trains to Keelung and Ruifang. Keelung has one of the most famous night markets on the island, Keelung Miaokou Night Market. Ruifang is your connection to Pingxi, home of the world-famous Sky Lantern Festival. The Taipei MRT system operates between 6am-12am but service ends earlier at some stations. Here is a link that gives the last train time for each station:http://english.metro.taipei/ct.asp?xItem=1056375&CtNode=70242&mp=122036 Music courtesy of:http://www.purple-planet.com Become a sponsor of Far East Adventure Travel! Visit my Patreon page now!: Help others discover Far East Adventure Travel! Write a Review:
Jun 10, 2017
Taipei, Taiwan is a super modern city with a deep-rooted culture that is becoming more and more popular as a gateway to East Asia and Southeast Asia. It’s new express MRT service from Taoyuan International Airport, a 36 minute ride, will make it even more convenient for travellers, especially those on a short layover. This short but important list of essential things you should know will help keep you on track with a smooth stay. Although taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive compared with other big cities in East Asia the MRT is one of the best ways to get to most of the main sites and business centers of Taipei City. The Nangang Exhibition Center where many conventions and shows are held is accessible by the blue and brown MRT lines. Neihou, where many tech industry businesses have their head office is also on the brown line, Xihu is one of the most convenient stops for quick and easy access. Taipei 101 for the last 3.5 years has had it’s own MRT stop on the red line. This is where you’ll also find The International Convention Center next to the Taipei 101 Shopping Mall. It’s also in close proximity to Taipei City Hall and is apart of the Xinyi Shopping District, where you’ll find one of the largest selections of luxury goods stores in East Asia. If you want to get more of a local perspective pick up an Easycard available at most MRT stations and register it online with Ubike, https://taipei.youbike.com.tw/en/index.php so you can have access to the city bikes that have stations across Taipei City and New Taipei City. Simply swipe your card next to the bike you want to rent and you’re ready to go. You can drop the bike off at any Ubike station. They’re almost always located near an MRT station. In the video I mention briefly that the Taiwanese people are very friendly and helpful. It’s true! If you ever appear to be lost or confused while looking at a map you will in most cases immediately attract the attention of a local who will be pleased to help you find your way. That’s wny I said “get lost”, literally you can get lost while exploring this amazing city with it’s maze of alleyways, quiet cafes, food stalls and shops and not worry that you won’t have help getting back to your hotel. Taipei and the rest of Taiwan is an extremely safe place to travel. There is literally no or very rare violent crime against tourists. Personal ownership of guns is banned. There has been reports of pick pocketing and petty theft, particularly in night markets and crowded places, but I think this is even rare now. Enjoy your stay in Taipei and please feel free to leave any comments or questions. You can also message me on the Far East Adventure Travel Facebook page! Become a sponsor of Far East Adventure Travel for as little as $1/month. Check my Patreon page for the latest sponsorship offers! https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4035923 Help others discover the Far East Adventure Travel Podcast! Write a Review:
Jun 7, 2017
I rarely if ever eat at McDonald’s but there is a curiosity that people, particularly from the west, have about what their regular fast food chains are like in Asia compared to their native country’s. It’s also a fall back when on the road dying for the tastes from home. It’s also a safe bet especially for some people who are a little shy to leave their comfort zone too long while on vacation and for parents traveling with children. So I thought I would check out McDonald’s Taipei as their special tropical burger currently on the menu is made from shrimp, something I still do eat. It’s pretty much what I expected, on the bland side, not horrible tasting but not very satisfying. Basically just a quick way to fill your stomach. I’m not a food snob but I do enjoy and appreciate good food, something there’s no lack of in Taiwan. Taiwan just may be the most convenient place to eat out in the world. I’ve heard estimates of over 300,000 food stalls on the island. Plus numerous restaurants that serve several styles of Chinese cooking, the most Japanese restaurants per capita outside of Japan, along with Korean, Vietnamese, and many Western cuisines. McDonald’s faces huge competition and it’s stores are not as successful in East Asia, particularly Taiwan and China then in other regions. It’s really not a surprise considering that Taiwan has a reputation in the east for being a food mecca. In recent years CNN viewers voted Taiwan the number one food destination in the world! Hopefully this episode will encourage those that fall back on the familiar to get out of their comfort zone more while traveling. Walk up to a food stall, order something new and different, and take away an unforgettable food memory and experience. Thanks for watching! Please support Far East Adventure Travel! You can become a sponsor for as little as $1/month. Check out my Patreon page:https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4035923 Help others discover the Far East Adventure Travel Podcast! Write a review in the iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/adventure-travel-far-east-inspired-by-rick-steves-lonely/id890305531?mt=2
Jun 5, 2017
In part II of my walk through Jalan Alor Food Street in Kuala Lumpur I stop to talk with a Durian seller, check out some of the street musicians performing in the surrounding area and chat more about the culture and food of Malaysia. Jalan Alor is quite easy to get to from most places where visitors stay in KL. You can walk from Chinatown, about 15 minutes or if you're around KL Central Station you can take the monorail to Bukit Bintang station and walk 5 minutes. Don't bother showing up before 6pm as they still might be setting up tables and chairs for the evening. This is not really considered a night market as there are mostly sit down restaurants, but there are a few food stalls around. There are also fruit sellers selling whatever is in season. Lychee, longan, rambutan, mangosteen, or if you're daring or lucky, you'll be there for durian season and can finish off your meal in a most traditional Malaysian way with the king of fruit! For my most recent meal at Jalan Alor I dined at Wong Ah Wah. I ordered grilled stingray,(small portion), squid fried in batter mixed with squid eggs, some gai lan wok-fried with garlic, and rice. Total cost was 79 ringit=$18.40USD. The stingray was perfectly grilled, moist on the inside, and came with a spicy dipping sauce. This was my first time trying squid eggs fried with squid and it was almost overwhelming rich, but wonderful. The gai lan was fresh and delicious and I washed it all down with a large Tuborg beer, Tiger wasn't available. Ordering beer is not a problem anywhere along the Jalan Alor but if you've been traveling for awhile around Southeast Asia you will notice prices are higher compared to most anywhere else. For a 633ml of Tuborg I paid approximately 17 ringit=$3.97 USD. Vietnam is one of the cheapest spots for beer, with 450ml bottles going at some street stall restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City for $.70USD. There are lots of great restaurants in Kuala Lumpur but my favorite place overall for experience, food, and value is Jalan Alor! Help support travel and production costs for Far East Adventure Travel. Visit my Patreon page and become a sponsor of Far East Adventure Travel for as little $1/month. Get exclusive content and more! Check out the offers now! https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4035923 Help others discover Far East Adventure Travel in iTunes! Write a Review:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/adventure-travel-far-east-inspired-by-rick-steves-lonely/id890305531?mt=2
Jun 1, 2017
For me Singapore and Malaysia were my first introduction to the amazing food experience of dining outdoors in Southeast Asia. Many years later the Jalan Alor food street of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is still one of my favorite places to dine. I've been lucky enough to have experienced the food and dining options of many cities and towns across Southeast Asia. Each one offers it's own unique food and charming experience whether it's sitting on tiny plastic chairs in the old quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam or enjoying the cheap vegetarian buffet in the night market of Luang Prabang, Laos while gazing at the Royal Palace's Temple at night. Jalan Alor is also one of the food centers I've visited the most having used KL as a gateway to Southeast Asia for several years. So I'm admittedly a little biased as well, but I've also never had a bad or even mediocre dining experience there. Jalan Alor is a tourist attraction but where some would find that perhaps not "authentic" I think it only adds to the experience with the possibility of sharing your dining experience with people from around the world, but mainly visitors from Asia. On my latest return I met a friendly group from Cambodia and some wonderful people from Iran. The restaurants have never let me down on Jalan Alor. The food is always consistently satisfying and being a seafood lover the options are almost limitless. My last meal consisted of grilled stingray, with a wonderful chili dipping sauce and deep-fried squid coated in a batter laced with squid eggs, it was so rich! I hope you enjoy this two part visit to one of my favorite places to eat in Southeast Asia, Jalan Alor-Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Help others discover the Far East Adventure Travel podcast! Write a review:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/adventure-travel-far-east-inspired-by-rick-steves-lonely/id890305531?mt=2 Become a sponsor of Far East Adventure Travel and gain access to exclusive content! Visit:https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4035923
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