sIMG_1457This is the first stop on my way home which is in a Asian country. It still has a lot of western influences to be honest. But except the western influences the first country I have ever been to with real Asian culture. Which means a very interesting mix of Chinese, Indonesians, Malaysians, Thai people and Indians. Probably even more then the stated different cultures clashing there onto each other. I expected it to be a big cultural shock but it was okay and you adapt fast to the customs and different food. Especially when you like Asian dishes like curry’s and sate, pad thai …. So have a read about one week in Singapore.

 

Off to Singapore - 21.8.2012

Sometimes you wake up a lot of times at night and in the morning.  Especially Hostels like this in Coolangatta Australia right next to the airport are like that. Everybody is getting his flight all around the clock and has sometimes to check out and catch a flight at inhuman times like 2-5am. So in a room with 11 other traveler you pretty much end up with a lot of disturbance at night. I was just lucky that I didn’t had to get up hat early. My flight out of Aussie to Singapore departs at 9am, so I had to be there around 7am’ish. So it was good enough to get up at 6:30am to grab some bread with jam on the way out and walk for 5 minutes to the terminal. How convenient is that to have the hostel just around the corner. Actually the noises from the airport weren't loud anyway. You almost didn’t hear anything. On the way out of my hostel I met Daniel, a funny guy from Indonesia who is traveling with the same flight like I do to Singapore and also with scoot. He is on his holidays too.

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IMG_1644But he has been a couple of times in Singapore already. Until we approached the plane we talked a lot and decided to catch up later to show me around in Singapore. The scoot flight so far was fine. But everytime you ask for something they want money. Can I have a drink? Answer: 5SGD. Can I have food: 10SGD, I’m chilli, can I have  a blanket? 12SGD, I’d like to see a movie. 22SGD …. The answer always leaded back to the good old credit card money. But what can you expect from a flight for around 210€ from nearby Brisbane to Singapore for around 7h other than ending up there safe. And that’s what is actually most important, isn’t it. before I left the airport in OZ I grabbed at least a Hungry Jack (Burger King, but had to change name because of legal issues) burger. And for drinking I can be like a camel and survive quite a while without. IMG_1653I wasted my time with listening to music, being fascinated by the similar looking female stewardesses in their fancy Star Trek fan suits, almost like duplicates, and writing this blog on the plane. I tried to sneak into one of the better seats, but one of the clones did spot me trying it and sent me back to the place I’ve paid for. The big nice yellow seats, you would never guess right, need to be paid extra. I was still annoyed of the fact that in Coolangatta the security took my nail scissors out of my bag. I directly tried to get some at behind the checks in the duty free zone, just for fun, but they really don’t sell them for security reasons. Or they are scared I would cut my toe nails in the plane, yuck. After looong 7h the airplane finally touched down at Changi Airport in Singapore around 4pm. I was just a bit afraid of the entry permission procedure. In the airplane you have to fill out a form to apply for a visa to get into the country. Nothing unusual with that but the note written in big red letters on it:”death penalty for drug traffickers” is a bit scary even if you don’t have anything. But in the end everything went fine and pretty organized. No extensive checks of my backpack or anything else, so all good.

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IMG_1546Directly from the airport you hop of the plane grab your bag and jump into the subway to drive into town. Its so easy. You just have to buy a cheap ez-link card top it up with some SGD and there you go. Berlin could learn something from Singapore in this point. So in the subway I felt for the first time that I am somewhere where I am special. Most of the others, more than 90 percent where Asians. It was interesting to feel how it is when you are the only one looking European or even German. I just had to switch the train once to get to Lavender Street where the Kiwi Hostel I booked into is located. Easy as. The weather was not too good that day, It was cloudy and it rained a lot. But nevertheless it had at least 30°. And fucking humid. I jumped out at Lavender Street. Again, the public transport system in Singapore is so good you just cant get lost. It is so easy to navigate and perfectly organized and clean.

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IMG_1611Probably related to all the security cameras everywhere and fines for drinking and eating 500SGD in the tunnel to the subway or in the subway itself. Smoking is twice as much. They have forbidden signs everywhere. E.g. no Durians, a awful rotten smelling fruit. If you don’t flush the toilet at a public place 150SGD. Chewing gums are permitted, cant be sold or chewed. I even was told its illegal to import them. I’m glad they didn’t see my huge pack of chewing gum. A guy told me later usually you can choose if you wanna pay or get the physical punishment instead. I was told, no idea if it is true, the slap yo on the ass with a long thin stick with tiny spikes at the end. The executer is supposed to accelerate the stick up to around 160 km/h at the point of hitting the butt. And up to three hits. But most of the tourists cant stand more than two and pass out before the third one. So then it is over and executed. Funny country, aye?

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IMG_1711When I left the Subway I met two Germs, a couple, and we walked together to the Kiwi Hostel. At least they knew the way there. And it is was good cause he is an experienced traveler and gave me some tips where to go to in Asia. In the Hostel we’ve got a nice welcome and right on felt a bit home. We got some water to hydrate and the room keys. It was already dark outside and I didn’t plan of go somewhere anyway. So I took advantage of the free Wi-Fi and planned my trip to Bali. I missed it on the way to Singapore but thought of going back and integrate it somehow in my plans getting around Asia. And in the end I found a good offer. Just 200€ for a return flight from and back to Singapore. But I had to stay in Singapore now until Monday so for 6 Days and stay on Bali for 1 1/2 weeks. Initially I planned to stay there just for 3-4 days. But that should be fine. And I guess I also will be able to keep myself busy for this time.

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IMG_1614After I was done with planning the next trips I closed the my laptop and went around 9pm to the food court on the other side of the street. It is still warm and humid, but bearable. But food courts are so different here. Its maybe still not like it is in Bangkok but already way different than what I’m used to see and eat. Everything is just open, the food court at all sides, the shops and the meals are not chilled or cooking just waiting in the warmth for being ordered. The chefs and kitchen helper sit at the tables too and cut all the stuff they need for cooking. Some of the food is very weird for me. They sell stuff like guts soup, so organs from pigs and other animals, scrambled frog soup/meals, turtle soup and some other weird stuff. IMG_1612But you also find for us normal food we are used to when you go dine at a Thai, Chinese, Indian or Indonesian restaurant. I was forced by a old Chinese lady to eat at here food place, but it wasn’t too good, just some random fried chicken with rice and gravy. Yes spicy gravy, weird aye but just 6SGD, around 4,50€. Anyway after that I felt full and went back to my hostel and to bed. I still have to get rid of my cough. So far I’m having it since more than a week already. I’m a bit afraid it is something serious like pneumonia cause my lungs hurt a bit …. But I will just have to wait and find out. I’m definitely not going to the doctor.

 

 

Singapore's Harbor Front - 22.8.2012

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IMG_1326I went alone with the subway purple line, also called the tourist line, to the Harbor Front station. But it was around 2pm already and I didn’t do anything before. I just slept until 1pm and had my breakfast a bit late. But I still got it. Nice fruits and toast with jam and chocolate spread. Yummy. When I first left the subway, I ended up in a mall, like always in Singapore after you leave the subway. But I left directly and it is really like everybody describes it here. You run somehow against a wall. Inside the mall it is approximately 21° and outside 33°. So fucking hot and humid. But at least I’ve got a view. Not a very nice one not what I expected, cause I thought IMG_1349I will be nearby or in the city center, but it was a view. In the distance Sentosa Island, Singapore’s amusement place with movie parks, beaches, roller coaster …. A bridge, trains and cable railways connecting the island with the mainland island. But first I went around in the other direction. to a really nice living complex nearby the waterfront. Designed by Daniel Liebeskind. Some really interesting architecture for residential buildings. I headed along the waterfront came across some more ridiculous signs with don’t’s and more and more flesh hotels and residential buildings with swimming pools and nice gardens. Back at the mall I walked towards Sentosa Island. Not with the plan of walking around on it just to the entrance to grab some flyers to may do it later. I should have done it that day, cause I never went back.

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IMG_1363On the way back I turned into one of their massive malls and went into a weird pet shop and a few other foreign shops. I wasn’t supposed to take pictures in the pet shop but I found out too late. So have look at this one with the poor fellow getting a ugly haircut. Also they sell dogs in tiny boxes. Just weird. I cant buy anything anyway but its nice to just have a look. I had Lunch/Dinner so Lunner at Burger King, yeha and got a really cheap meal deal for 5SGD (3€) with burger, chips, coke and ice cream. And then it was already late enough to go back to my hostel chill out and get to know the other inhabitants.

 

 

Lucky Day with Daniel - 23.8.2012

This morning Daniel picked me up after my Breakfast. He knows the City well so he gave me a small run down or tour. However you wanna call it. First we went to the real city center. Actually just to get to the casino but it was on the way to the interesting places, though. At marina bay at least you have something looking like a city center. Actually I expected a bit more of it. Just to be bigger, higher or even more extravagant.

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IMG_1376But it looks nice and everything there is artificial neat and clean and styled. The casino is just next to this famous three tower building with the ship on top and the famous swimming pool. We dropped our bags, changed some money, my limit 50SGD and small hopes of multiplying it. We went around for a while and Daniel played a couple of games but weren’t very successful that day. I was luckier that day. Even though the minimum inset was 25SGD and two bad decisions in Black Jack would have ended my game it went pretty well. After a lot of lucky incidents getting good cards and beating the dealer I went off the table with 175SGD. Wicked. What a good start. It reminded me of the day with Sebastian where we met the Band Foster the People and win some money in the casino there as well. We had some free coffee and coke there and left this place.

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IMG_1405Cause Daniel dragged me in there and I won quite a lot I invited him for some snacks to this marina sands three tower ship building. Usually you have to pay 20SGD to get up there. But backpackers are cheapskates. Yesterday I’ve got the tip if you pretend to go up to the bar its for free. And you can spend the money on a expensive drink or food and also enjoy the view. So a way better deal. At the sky bar despite the shitty weather we still had a awesome view of the building itself, the new botanic garden behind it , the city center and also the nice pool next to the bar. Unfortunately you can only go for a swim as a guest of the hotel. IMG_1431The cheapest rooms where 300SGD. Too much for my budget. So we just had two nice drinks, some wasabi chips and delicious French fries. For almost 40SGD. But still within the money I just won. We had a great time up there enjoying the view and taking pictures of us and the city. We continued back on the ground our trip through this garden behind the Marina Sands building. They have some interesting stuff there. Huge glass houses, rivers and lakes and constructed massive flowers where you can walk on a path up in the air all around them and some other stuff. But not yet finished so at least all this was for free. Except going into the glass house or on the flowers.

 

 

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IMG_1436The French fries have been a nice appetizer but definitely not enough to not be hungry anymore. So we went back to the mall which looks like it has been inspired by Venice and ate nice Japanese food in a good food court. More expensive but also way better food. With full belly’s we continued our tour around the harbor basin. The top cloth lables like Versace and Loui Vitton … have a shop there in the best spots. They also had some water games going on their. And Daniel told me that on some evenings they spray water in the air and use it as a canvas to project movies on it. Nice, but still to bright for that. IMG_1489The view from the basin and from the ground was way nicer than from the top and I start to like this place. Even more when we continued further into the direction of the river arm passing through the city heading to Clarks Quay. They have a good mixture of old English style buildings next to new architecture. But almost everywhere the buildings in the city center are surrounded by crazy expensive cars. Especially around the high class hotels. We went to the famous lion head normally spying water into the basin. But it was under construction. Nevertheless Daniel forced me to take some silly pictures with some random Indonesian chicks. Crazy Daniel. We passed some bridges and continued walking next to the river. We stopped at one catapult thingy. IMG_1442They had the same in Auckland. You sit in a cage and some ropes getting stretched until the capsule accelerates towards sky like hell. We watched this event and continued on the right arm side passing nice restaurants and bars. A good place at night I think. Later I got it proofed. The last stop on Daniels city tour was Clarks Quay a nice shopping area, but outdoor. So way nicer than all the malls. He forced me to try the durian ice cream. Not only that Durian is weird they also serve ice cream in colorized sweat white wheat bread. But I have to admit it was good. At least I could imagine to have it again.

 

 

 

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The day was almost over and the weather is still annoying me. It tires me way more than our climate or the one in Aussie or NZ. But I guess I have to live with it for the next few weeks and just get used to it.

The Mall of the Malls – Orchard - 24.8.2012

If a mall is one of the attractions there is no excuse not to go there. So did I. I took the MRT (Subway) to the Orchard Station and after exiting it I found myself within this huge mall. It has more than three floors from time to time and actually connects 4 big malls via tunnels. You can spend ages down there. Maybe it is also like that here because of the hot weather that a big part of life is being spent underground. Bearing in mind they have the opinion white is better than dark skin, so they have whitening cream instead of taint cream, sunscreen 120+ and use umbrellas when the sun is out. It’s a different world.

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IMG_1779Anyway down in this mall they have some amazing food places and shops. But especially the French bakery and German Baumkuchen shop where nice.    went alone noon to orchard, huge indoor shopping mall, weird but heaps of stuff and food. The thing is, here in these country’s it is still cheap to let somebody to work a pastry by hand. So in every of the few shops they have heaps of people cooking and baking amazing food. Really impressive. After all of these stores I went crazy down there and had to leave the underground. Just to bump into more shops outside. IMG_1784Heaps of labels we also have in Europe like H&M …. . I walked down the whole Orchard street until I ended up at Dobi Ghaut a big train station crossing and almost again to Clarks Quay. But I had enough already and went back home. It was also late enough for dinner and I was supposed to meet with a Dutch girl for going to Little India for dinner. In the end she found it is way to far away just for Dinner. So she and a Brazilian girl, Amanda and I decided to go to the food court again. To have once more mediocre but cheap food for around 3€ per meal. IMG_1554

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The Dutch girl showed us the day before a video of a tour she did in Thailand. It was a snake experience tour and the guides took a snake, pressed the blood out of it and poured it into shot glasses with vodka, so they drank that, and after that they ate the still beating heart of it. Weird isn’t it? But enough about food for now.

 

 

 

 

 

Chinatown and Little India - 25.8.2012

IMG_1628Today there where two main must see locations on my list. Chinatown and little India. Both I didn’t visit alone but with Amanda a Brazilian girl who sleeps in the top bunk bed. She hasn’t been there so a lucky coincidence to go there together. So first we got via MRT to the China Town station. Everything there is under construction so it wasn’t too easy to find the places we where looking for. After a while of strolling around we finally found the right streets where it looks like Chinatown, so a lot of crap being sold plus heaps of food shops. And every now and then small alleys where it looks like Chinese people live here. The center of Chinatown pretty much fits into 4 streets, so not too much to see. We went into a Hindu temple, or at least into it until we weren’t allowed to go further.

 

 

 

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IMG_1647Amanda lives in Brasilia the man made capital in the center of Brazil. It was designed and planned in the 60s and is famous for the way it is being built. Probably most of ze Germans know about it because of the soon coming soccer world championship. But I haven’t heard of it before. Amanda send me pictures and it looks like it is definitely worth a visit. Maybe when she is back there. And I have time again and money.

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And afterwards we ended up at the local center of Chinatown with a lot of old guys playing chees and mill … and a big biiiiiiiig chinese temple we went through. Actually everything looked a bit cheesy and fake. But no Idea how authentic everything was in there. Maybe more than I think it is. At least it was a bit chilled in there compared to the outside climate. Very much more wasn’t to see in Chinatown. So we went on to the next stop.

 

 

 

 

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IMG_1655Little India. And this place looked way more decent like India then the one before. A lot of Indian tradesmen selling traditional stuff andcoronal flowers. Amanda unfortunately tried one on and the dealer forced her to buy this crap for 10SGD. It’s a good trick to sell this overpriced stuff. Amanda didn’t want to say very much against it to not offend him, but I guess it was just a scam. And of course Little India has heaps of food places. Nice authentic Indian food served on a banana leaf by the way. IMG_1668We went into one good looking place with heaps of other people and some positive certificates and took a seat. We ordered way too many food but it was delicious. And not only that, we wanted to increase the Indian experience so we ate with our hands. The right one only of course, I guess you all know why. But it must be funny to see their faces if you eat with the other. Now I know why Indians have yellow hands. Afterwards it took ages to get rid of the spices smell and the color. Anyway the food was very good.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_1675Stuffed and barely able to move we went almost straight into the MRT and drove home to take a nap before going out to Chinatown again. At daytime it was okay, but we expected it to be way nicer at night. And we where right. All the lampions where now illuminated as the trees and the shops where. It all looked really nice and way better then at daytime.

 

 

 

 

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IMG_1676But it was still early and because this Chinatown area is so small we still had heaps of time to go somewhere else. We both didn’t see Singapore at night so we continued to walk in the direction of the CBD. The town gets a way different look at night. Because of all the illuminated buildings and bridges plus the river and basin mirroring everything  it looks even way better then at daytime, like in Chinatown too. And also the temperatures are at least around 27° so almost cool. Nevertheless we bought a six-pack and spent a while at the riverside drinking and talking. We weren’t the only one. It seems to be a custom of the locals to do the same. Some of the bridges where fully crowded with drinking people, probably before they go out to clubs.

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IMG_1708The only thing we didn’t put much thought in was how the fuck we get home. After 0:30 am the MRT stops working and only night buses go around, but we had no Idea where from. So we just started to walk in the direction we thought it would be and asked random people passing by. A really helpful French guy helped out and gave us detailed information where to go to, to get home. Another short walk and a way too fast bus ride at night and we ended up safe at the hostel. It was so far the craziest bus driver I’ve ever seen. But just until Bali, later.

 

 

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Botanic Garden - 26.8.2012

IMG_1759My last full Day in Singapore. So the decision where to go to had to be wise chosen. We went to the Botanical Garden. It is supposed to be very nice to visit, for free, and is pretty huge to spend quite a while in there. Again I went with Amanda. Today it was a pretty bad mixture weather wise. It started with sun over heavy subtropical rain back to sunny cloudy again. But anytime so humid. Especially after the heavy rain when the sun reheated everything and the water on the pathways and grass patches began to vaporize. IMG_1774So humid, you have no idea. Anyway I had to live with it and enjoyed the rainforest section while it rained, the beautiful trees and flowers everywhere and also the few animals they have in there. E.g. Turtles, Koi’s, small and big Lizard's and the bird life.

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IMG_1777Hungry and tired from all that walking we needed something to increase our power. The Orchard was on the way back to the city center so we jumped off there and I had another stroll through the underground shopping malls. Amanda didn’t see it so far an I am still amazed how massive it is. But we where there just to grab some food and maybe visit some of the awkward shops. The best one was actually the big one on a center court within the mall selling children stuff. Like fake Lego products or shitloads of annoying dolls and huge IMG_1776packs of Asian plastic toy crap with a lot of spelling mistakes on it. Even more than in my posts. To get to the food court we passed again the handmade section of the shopping center with delicious bread, Baumkuchen, French pastry and much more yummy things. But then we went for lunch for real. And I had a good spicy selection of deep fried chicken with rice on a banana leaf. Food here looks so nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_1796We had enough and wanted to se daylight again. So we did the same walk I did two days ago. From the Orchard towards city center. But we stopped for a short visit at Singapore’s national museum. We where there pretty late so most of the exhibitions where already closed for new guest but we sneaked in into some and we’d loved to arrived there earlier. It is worth a visit if you want to learn something about the development, traditions and food of Singapore. And there is way more to see than just that. But we don’t know about it cause we where too late and than already had to leave again around 5:30pm.

 

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IMG_1766From there we walked further through the university areas back to the MRT City Hall station. Amanda continued to go to the three tower marina sands building to go to the top to catch the sunset (didn’t work, it was always cloudy) and I went slowly back to the hostel relaxing. When she came back later, we went out to Wendy's to have something else than mediocre Asian food from the food mall. On the way to get there we passed a Buddhist temple and bumped into very nice friendly people there. They invited us in gave us a banana (they had way too many leftover from their ceremony). it was so calm and relaxed in there. I don’t even know why. It wasn’t a very nice temple, more a storehouse with a lot of cheesy Buddha stuff and some offerings. But it works. And maybe the music adds a lot to the atmosphere too.

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IMG_1638Very relaxed we made or way slowly through to Wendy’s to have a feast. Yummy. I haven't had burgers for approximately 5 days. Compared to the whole last year it is unusual for me. And somebody told me already you get pretty fast sick of Asian food (all the rice and noodles) when you are here but you will miss it when you are back home. Its not as good and especially not as cheap. So I try pretty much to take advantage of the last fact and eat local food as long as I can. But every now and then I need something else.

 

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IMG_1372On the way back we or better I made the stupid decision not to buy any beer or get any cash. What a stupid decision. And so wrong. Later that evening we wanted to enjoy the last night in our rooftop garden. We thought the reception will be still open. But it was Sunday night and nobody was working at 10pm anymore. Bugger, so we had to go out again. And not only that, because I didn’t have any cash and nobody wanted me to pay with credit card we had to walk far, faaar out to the next ATM, then back to the 7/11 to get the local cheap beer brand. Tiger Beer. It was the most complicated beer shopping ever. But finally we got some so we chilled out and enjoyed with another guy and a lot of cockroaches the warm last night in Singapore.

 

The resume about Singapore:

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IMG_1427Singapore didn’t attract me very much in the first place. But day by day I liked it more and more. Not so much the weather/climate but it is a nice town. It is very organized and the public transport system works like charm. A bit weird with all its security cameras. You may feel safe but you are not allowed to buy or do anything which is normal in most of the other towns on this planet. E.g. chewing, buying or selling chewing gums, eating or even drinking water in the subway or the tunnels to go there. Also everybody says it is so clean in Singapore. I guess these people haven’t seen many other city's.  IMG_1442Yes the Subway is very clean and the city center is pretty much clean as well. But the City Center of Berlin isn’t much dirtier as well. And you feel more freedom than in Singapore being always under surveillance. I will never understand why this is necessary and if somebody actually have a look at this footage. They must capture thousands of terabyte a day all over the town and have thousands of people monitoring this crap. The length of my stay may cold have been one or two days shorter but because of going to Bali it was worth spending a bit more time than planned here. I wasn’t bored once, so in my opinion 4-6 days to stay here is fine. There are also many things I haven’t seen like Sentosa Island. So maybe if I ever will have a stopover here again I’ll go and have a look. I wouldn’t go back just for staying here. Its not a city I could imagine to live in or for holidays like Sydney was.

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