Things I Learned from my First Ever Solo Trip / Camiguin

Yes, you read it right! I finally did it! I went on a solo trip for the first time andI did it for my 30th birthday!!

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I’ve been thinking of doing this for the longest time as I love TRAVELING, and lately, I love being ON MY OWN. Put those together, and what do you get? Labo! Seriously, you can just do the math! Haha!

I booked this trip probably around April (when we got our bonus) and when PAL had one of their seat sales, which was very timely. I did not book any baggage allowance yet as I wanted to backpack around the island and I wanted to teach myself how to pack light this time. So total cost was around Php 1,100 round freaking trip!!!!!!

Weeks prior to the trip, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna push through as the weather didn’t look so good, plus I was a bit short on moolah as I am not doing well in my sales job, but since I was turning 30 naman na and I saved up pa rin naman, plus, I, really, really wanted to do something new, I did it!!! My adventurous self was poking me constantly that I got annoyed so sige na, push na this!

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The week prior to the trip, I was still sooooo busy implementing activities. I even traveled to one of my remote territories the day before, so you can just imagine how tired I was from the long drive, but that didn’t stop me! In fact, I was sooooo excited, I packed my bag a few days prior. Usually, I’d pack my luggage the night before a trip, which brings me to ehem, the things I learned on my first ever solo trip!

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  1. PACK YOUR BAG EARLY! – Ok so you guys probably already know this, but did I say that this post was about you? Charot! Nang-away? Anyhooooo, I normally pack my bags the night before, coz that’s the time that I don’t have to worry about my deodorant getting lost in my luggage when I haven’t put on any yet. Same with my slippers, undies etc. This time, I started packing my stuff at least 2 days prior, so I had time to sort through my beach OOTD’s, my swimwear, my scarves (always!). I had time to check my travel toiletries so I could buy whatever’s lacking. I was also able to organize my stuff in separate travel pouches especially my cords, chargers, batteries!
    • RESULT:I was able to eliminate excess stuff as I had time to really think about what I am going to wear based on my itinerary. Unfortunately, I still had to buy prepaid baggage allowance. I guess I really am no expert at PACKING SHYET, I mean, PACKING LIGHT. I guess this was still a FAIL, nevertheless, I still tried (so it’s a WIN too!) and that’s what matters. For my next beach trip though, I would really want to pack less than 7kg! Challenge accepted!
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      my backpack weighed 10kg at 50L! My shoulder bag weighed 6.5kg! LIGHT PACKER BA KAMO? Haha!

  2. DO A LOT OF RESEARCH! NO ONE’S GONNA DO IT FOR YOU THIS TIME! Normally, my brother and sister would do all the research for our family trips, from the itinerary, to hotels and transport to restaurants to try and shopping districts to visit. Same with trips with my friends. I have a friend in Cebu who does all the financial stuff, so we would all just depend on her on how much we would all have to pay individually when the bills come. The only time I did really heavy research was for our first Japan trip coz I had all the time in the world (I was unemployed at the time haha). So It’s not like I am useless when traveling. See, I could do it if I want to, and this time, I HAD TO. Thanks to all the bloggers, vloggers, influencers, Biyahe ni Drew, and my bro for all the tips, the tricks and all the things they learned from their trips to Camiguin.
    • RESULT: I was able to browse through different options and finally book my accommodations the best way possible (Thanks Agoda and Booking.com). I was able to put together my own itinerary (without having to consider the preferences of another–yay for solo trips). Although 70% of my research was literally just spoon fed by my brother who went to Camiguin a few months earlier, I still am proud of myself for being able to juggle these last minute reservations with TONS of WORK!!IMG20191116061513
  3. IF THERE’S AN OPTION TO PAY CHEAPER, GO FOR IT! – This is probably a result of doing number 2 too. No, it’s not the #2 you’re thinking about! I was referring to DOING YOUR RESEARCH.
    • If you happen to find out how much things really cost ahead of time, say for example, renting a scooter to go around the island on, you wouldn’t pay Php 500 for a 24 hour use!!!! And yes, I am speaking from experience. Sadly, I forgot how much my brother paid for his when he rented one. I didn’t have time to scroll through our looooooooooong IG conversation, so I paid Php 500 instead of just Php 250-300! 1333
    • When commuting, try to find out how to go around like the locals do (thanks bro and our hotel receptionists for the tips!)! It would help you save big time! On my 3rd day, I commuted on Camiguin’s public transport, aka their relas/motorelas and paid around Php 11 the most!
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      Camiguin motorela and the Samuel by Vjandep restaurant in the background!

    • Also, when you’re alone in say some sort of public pool with tables for rent, you don’t have to rent a whole table for your stuff and pay Php 75. Sadly, I also did, when I could just have left my bag and slippers beside the pool itself.
    • For food, try walking around your hotel, look for restaurants where the locals eat, or again, do your research and check reviews of previews visitors to get the “bung for your buck!”. You don’t really have to go cheap for food, but it would be soooooo nice to have a sumptuous for an incredibly affordable seafood lunch or dinner!
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      Hayahay Cafe’s famous smoothie bowl!

    • For your accommodation: Since this was my birthday trip, I booked a night at a pricier place, Ysla Beach Camp and Eco Resort 269139for the glamping experience and I must say that it was worth every penny! Then I transferred to a budget hotel, GV hotel which was equally worth my hard earned money coz it was in the middle of everything and I was really comfortable as well! My room was just Php 500 a night! I just added P25/night to transfer to an air-conditioned room. I will be making a separate post for my trip itinerary so I will be writing a more extensive review of the land arrangements! 2348
    • Another tip for budget travelers going to Camiguin, I paid friggin Php 200 for my boat ride to White Island instead of Php 450-500, though the guilt trip afterwards still kills me to this day! LOL! Instead of finding and convincing a group of 3 or perhaps a couple to take you along with them on their boat (boat can only accommodate 4 tourists and 2-3 boatmen) before you go to the cashier, try going directly to the cashier at the port and wait for a group to approach her and pay her, before you tell them that you are on your own and you’re looking for a group to join. This way, they would have paid their 550 each and you’re just gonna have to pay a joiner fee of Php 200. You can talk to the group if they wish to split the payment equally and pay them after. That’s what I did, but the couple didn’t want my money! So I saved 300-350 bucks! Again, I don’t recommend this, but you can most definitely try!
    • RESULT: Need I say more?
  4. MAKE SURE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW YOUR ITINERARY! – I was in constant communication with my brother and my family, just in case I get in any accident or into any serious situation. And you can also get in touch with friends through video call if you can! It will be less lonely! LOL! rtc-capture-id:daa8d1a3-6cf8-4748-a511-4ea0b0d08c40rtc-capture-id:94f5fa60-3575-48ce-8bff-fa7a4ab23fea
  5. RENT A SCOOTER OR MOTORCYCLE! – I need not emphasize this!! This is the best way for you to go around the island, on your own time and terms. Of course, there are risks of you being flagged down by NPA’s (JK! there are NONE!), or crashing with no one to rescue you (there’s no cell service in some parts of the island) or getting robbed (not that I heard any) but it’s part of the adventure! TBH, it was my first time riding one and I was manhandled by it. JK! The first time I was ever on a scooter (which was manual transmission pa) was back in high school/college (about 10-15 years ago) and my tito was just letting us have a feel of it around an almost carless cemetery. So I have no experience of riding one on public roads ever, but like what they always say, long as you know how to ride a bike, you’re good to go! Funny coz when the owner was handing it to me, I asked him 3x how to lock the bike when getting off (to avoid it getting robbed), how to start the ignition etc that he started to worry too. He even offered to drive me around instead, but I was firm to say “hindi kuya, gusto ko ako lang!” Tapang-tapangan eh! Solo travel nga diba? Nagtataray na naman? Char! Kidding aside, I told him firmly but in a nice way that I wanted to go around on my own. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to write about it here as part of my personal milestones! Yun lang pala!
    • LESSONS LEARNED: Always bring your driver’s license with you when you travel. I left mine at home, in Cebu, so I drove to the airport and back without one too! So, on my 3rd day in Camiguin, I commuted on motorelas, which was equally fun as it got me to talk to the locals and foreign tourists alike!IMG_20191116_172447_92014771489
  6. BE SURE TO KNOW YOUR WAY AROUND THE ISLAND! – Download the map so you could still navigate offline! Know where the tourist spots are! Ask around! I relied on Google Maps the whole time and it’s a good thing that you can literally go around the island via their circumferential road!1302
  7. SUPPORT LOCAL! – This one I’m proud to say I do in all my travels! Who doesn’t? Try the local cuisine all you want coz you are gonna miss them for sure! I always make it a point to buy cute artisan products coz I love ANYTHING HANDMADE and HANDCRAFTED and ANKLETS! The one I wore on this trip was from El Nido! Talk to the artists or restaurant owners and ask them about their passion, for inspiration in your own life! LESSON LEARNED: Talking to owners and artists is what I got to learn how to do in future solo travels! I need to be less awkward and less shy! LOL! 1320
  8. BUY A TRIPOD WITH BLUETOOTH REMOTE CONTROLLER! – This was probably the first on my list of things to buy before I went on this trip! My friend, Dee recommended the Xiaomi selfie stick and tripod in one! It doesn’t extend that long, but it is sturdy and reliable as hell! Dayum these Mi products really are worth your money! You can easily slip it inside your beach bag as it isn’t bulky at all! You can also attached the bluetooth controller into the stick so you don’t have to worry about it getting lost! Got it for P799! 295.jpg293291
  9. MAKE FRIENDS! – I traveled solo to have peace of mind and to not worry about wasting other people’s time, but it wouldn’t hurt to talk to a few strangers along the way. I may be an introvert, but that definitely doesn’t mean that I’m antisocial. There’s a thick line between those two coz I love talking to people. Ang defensive? I like getting to know people and hearing their stories, but in an intimate way. I don’t like big groups unless I’m comfortable with everyone. I get energy from having time for myself, but also from talking to people who inspire me, have a laugh with me and all that shizz.
    • In this particular trip, I got to know 2 other guests at Ysla Beach Camp. We only got to talk at breakfast before we all checked out and like everyone I met on this trip, they were surprised that I was on my own! I found out that one of them was from Cebu too, and they gladly shared tips on where to spend the sunset at.
    • The night before, it was one of the senior staff, ate Bing whom I talked to while waiting for my food. She shared stories about the whole Biyahe Ni Drew Crew including the main man himself **coughs so gwapo! **coughs and compared him to Atom Araullo who also visited their resort in the past.1324
    • At the Church ruins, I met this little boy named Christian, who took all of my amazing IG-worthy photos. He directed me and shot my photos in less than 5 minutes! Fastest photoshoot ever and I was surprised by how beautiful everything turned out. Walang tapon! 1403
    • Lastly, on my motorela ride back to the airport (which took less than 10 mins), I met this hilarious couple who pep-talked me about career women marrying late in life. Buti na lang kasabut na ko ug Bisaya (ngek mali pa rin pala!) and was laughing the whole time, I almost missed my stop! LESSON LEARNED: Travel solo and talk to strangers, one thing you won’t be able to do much when you’re traveling with someone! And one more thing, be courteous and grateful and give the locals your best smile always!
  10. BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR TIPS! – I know that it sometimes feel unnecessary to do so, but find it in your heart to give back because people working in tourism even those kids who offered to take such good photos of you deserve it! I know most of you are probably so generous when traveling, so good for you!
  11. BRING A BOOK OR TWO! – This may be the right time for you to finally start the book you’ve been wanting to read for the longest time, so make the most of it! It will be perfect especially if your room has no TV and no WIFI! 1057324.jpg
  12. BE ONE WITH NATURE and ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS! – Go camping! 1150Wake up early and catch the sunrise by the beach! I never miss sunrises on vacation! It’s my most favorite thing to do! Usually while walking along the shore, I’d be accompanied by dogs and I would meet a couple of fishermen prepping their boat and nets! Go out and enjoy the view and the fresh air! Go for a swim! Take lots of photos and videos to reminisce memories with! Then get rid of your phones for a while or maybe just go offline for a bit and turn off your playlists and listen to the sound of nature instead! Reflect and contemplate. Paint!LRM_EXPORT_587280326201176_20191117_122706918Pray! Walk around the city early in the morning before everyone wakes up! Walk around at night too especially if the area looks safe! Enjoy these little, big things! LESSON LEARNED: BEING ONE WITH NATURE IS ONE OF THE BEST FEELINGS IN THE WORLD! 135657645647
  13. BE GRATEFUL! – Life is beautiful so be grateful for opportunities to travel, to try something new, to meet new people, learn about their culture, for the chance to unwind and rest from all the chaos, LRM_EXPORT_588362903951441_20191117_124509495for the time and space to reflect on your life. Good things are always present in our lives and we just fail to recognize them! For this trip, I thank the Lord over and over again. I was anticipating some travel mishaps, but I almost had none! I’m grateful that I did not crash my scooter, nor did I encounter a police checkpoint. I’m grateful for all the people who assisted me.
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    awra awra thanks to my selfie stick/tripod!

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I’m grateful for the people who shared their stories with me! I’m grateful for the beauty that is Camiguin! It is now my favorite trip by far because I did it NOT ON MY OWN, but with GOD and with EVERYONE who helped me out!

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Early Morning January Light

I really love the cool January breeze. All thanks to the countries north of the Philippines, it’s past 10 yet my feet are still cold and the air is still surprisingly pleasant!

I went up early to go on a morning photowalk with our dog, Charlie although it didn’t go exactly as planned. Apparently, there was an ordinance implemented last year prohibiting homeowners to take their dogs to the park especially to pee and take a dump. I thought it wouldn’t matter as I’m ready to pick up his poop anyway, and Charlie did his thing before we left.

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Unfortunately, he had to poop again, right before entered the park area and I couldn’t pick it up because it was semi-formed…..okay, it was slightly watery. So I had to cut short what would have been my chance to shoot some street photos and just bought Pandesal earlier than planned. Just my luck though, I bumped into a vendor who sold these beautiful, colored corn that he said was from Benguet.

I never thought I’d see this kind of corn for real. It was a curious thing I first saw last year on Instagram so I couldn’t help but buy some for breakfast.

So here I was, back home playing with food even though I was told not to. LOL. Well don’t worry, this is only¬†for the sake of photography and nothing else. You know how much I love and respect food just as much as I love and respect those who worked hard to get them on our tables. ūüėõ

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I’m planning to go on a photowalk again tomorrow and chase the golden light and maybe jog a little while the air is still cool and while I still have the time.

Maybe I could also be braver to take more photos of people too, but I wouldn’t mind shooting photographing¬†animals like I did today.

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Life Lately / 10

It has been just a little over a week since my last post, but it felt like ages to me, most of it due so many things happening¬†all at the same time. I still have yet to wrap my head around each of those milestones and moments, but I’m thankful for all of them nonetheless.

Since September, I have been interviewing with a company half of my family is currently working for. There was almost a month’s interval for each of the interviews (HR, Provincial Managers and Division Head) and it all ended last month when I got the go signal¬†from their HR department to do and pass all the necessary pre-employment exams and requirements. I still can’t believe it. Sometimes, I’m so scared to take this leap so bad, I want to back out, but there are times that I think about finally getting out of my comfort zone so I can¬†grow out of my crumbly shell.

I haven’t been this busy since my grandmother’s hospital admission, wake and burial back in Feb-March, so I could tell my body has yet to adjust to finally getting back on track. I have to keep mum on this as I might jinx it and because it still scares me¬†just thinking about what this new career path holds for me.

On the other hand, we’ve also managed to conquer 2 tactical and challenging mountains exactly one¬†week apart. The first one being Mt. Pamitinan in Rizal¬†a week ago and and Mt. Pulag in Benguet yesterday.

I still can’t believe how I managed to do so, but with great company, a strong mindset and permission and guidance from God, both climbs have been made possible.

More on these wild adventures and milestones later on. For now, I leave you these majestic views from above.

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Trip Down Memory Lane | Weekend Warriors Part II

Christmas is only 44 days away, and the year is swiftly coming to an end, yet I haven’t even crossed out half of the stuff on my list of trips and events to write about. Boy, I better get everything done soon and by soon, I mean NOW! ūüėõ

So going back to where I left off 4 months ago, here’s the second part¬†of our exciting, but not so challenging, and thus enjoyable ūüėõ day hike to Mt. Manalmon back in May. Here’s the first part.¬†‚õį‚õį‚õį

No, I’m not being cocky at all. It was definitely a walk-in-the-park and I can even vouch for those who don’t work out on a regular basis. Easy peasy is what it was.

Although I couldn’t say the same for my cousin, whose blood pressure, I assumed shot up¬†as early as the first ascent. We had to stop a few times so he could recuperate¬†and re-hydrate.

After the first ascent, we reached a clearing (in terms of plants & trees), just a few meters from the marker at the foot of the mountain.

We stopped again so we could catch our breath or should I say, take some selfies. The drying grass helped make for a good background on our photos and the wide patch of land served as a rest stop for various groups before the second ascent.

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Basing on this marker, the first ascent was just around 36 MASL

We then proceeded to climb the mountain itself in more or less an hour after we left the jump off point. This was probably the more challenging part of the climb. Though more amateur friendly, it’s still a mountain, so obviously there¬†are no paved staircases and metal railings to hang on to on the way up. It can still be perilous so¬†you’d need to watch every step and to hang on to branches and vines to support yourself. You see, that’s the beauty of having a guide, he told us exactly where to anchor our feet and which vines/branches to grab a hold of.

Here are some shots taken by my sister who was ahead of us…

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Resting after the steep climb,¬†while the sister went up ahead…

Here we were finally reaching one of its many summits!!

Reaching the first summit was more than amazing. The first mountain I ever climbed was Kalbaryo within Mt. Banahaw back in high school and for a moment, I was taken back to how good it really felt to immerse in the great outdoors.

I’ve this extreme fear of heights. I get weak in the knees just walking along mall balconies, but being on top of a mountain feels so much different from that. I guess the surreal feeling tricks your mind into thinking that you cannot fall over the edge, not with beautiful views in sight. Just saying that makes me seem high because that’s exactly what it felt like, literally and figuratively. It was euphoric. I guess nature can really give you that feeling, huh?¬†This is most probably why everyone goes mountaineering these days. Just writing about it now makes me giddy. Definitely can’t wait til our next hike. Keeping fingers crossed.

Apparently as seen on the following photos, the first summit was where we stayed the longest, because it had bigger room to accommodate several groups. At the time, I think there were 4 groups of 5-10 climbers when we reached the first one.

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We also maximized the¬†time to take¬†as many selfies and groufies as we can in one spot, and to re-hydrate and freshen up. Fortunately, the sun kind of shied away too when we reached the top, so we didn’t have to hurry to go to the next stop.

Some of these photos below were taken by our guide and we’re all very impressed, I must say. His compositions were spot on! Way to go, Kuya Joseph!

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After a while, we decided we needed to let go of our spot as more groups were coming up, so off we went to……….. take more selfies! ūüėõ

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Here are some longshots of the incredible scenes we saw from above. Those ants meeting under a tree sure look good in those shirts.

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The second and final summits were both on the other side of the mountain and had more beautiful views of what I believe is the Madlum river snaking its way in between these mountains.

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The final ascent was quite steep so we had to Spiderman-crawl to the top. My sister recorded the whole thing on video, unfortunately I messed up the music volume while editing, so you’re gonna have to put your speakers on full blast for this one.

The third and final summit had less room obviously, so we had to do all our shenanigans very quickly as the queue of climbers was also getting longer.

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This tree was on the edge of the mountain and even though my cousin looked really happy here, he was actually very nervous as I was when I took the photo.

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Yes, we also danced our hearts out on the summit. Bucketlist thing. LOL. This must be why someone from the group behind us was so pissed at us.

There you go. That was definitely one of the many highlights and blessings of this year for me. Of course, it could not have been possible without His¬†blessing so like all of the mountains that we’ll be conquering this year and the years ahead, this was¬†and always will be for His glory.

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I want to say though that this is the last part of this travel series, but then I realized there’s still so much to write about. We also tried the extremely challenging Monkey River Crossing and Spelunking,¬†both of which I think deserve a separate entry.

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Manic Mondays (late post!)

Normally, I’d really hate Mondays and I’d be dreading them¬†even just before weekends start. Each week, I sulk at having to cut short my¬†fun Sunday with my family, because Monday just¬†couldn’t wait¬†to make her presence felt. Yes, I just referred to her as a girl, and no I wasn’t sarcastic at all. ūüėõ

I want to say that¬†Mondays are¬†the best and they’re something to¬†be thankful for, but most of the time, they really aren’t. For one,¬†people tend to be extremely¬†panicky AF on this day and on this day only that sometimes, I don’t know what rush hour means anymore. We could leave the house at 5:15am or earlier and it still wouldn’t be early enough to avoid the whole Monday madness. If we leave our house around the same¬†time on a Tuesday though, I¬†wouldn’t¬†be surprised to see the roads almost completely empty. Like I’ve literally blurted out to my parents quite a few times, “where did all the people from yesterday go?”,¬†in total shock. I can’t say for sure if that’s the same in other areas, but in this particular corner¬†between Amang Rodriquez avenue and E bank road in Pasig, it almost always is. I guess people tend to relax more on the 4 remaining working days of the week? I wonder what difference that makes exactly.

For some reason, Mondays also made me feel anxious and agitated.¬†Mondays had me¬†wishing for any work interruption, may it be in a form of a weather disturbance or more often than not,¬†something more realistic, say, a zombie apocalypse…anything that can stop me from going to work.

But now that I’ve been a bum for four¬†5 months, I feel like Mondays make me feel the complete opposite of all that! Funny how my perspective¬†changed all of a sudden.

I feel like what once was a dreaded day is now a chance given by Him to redeem myself or to correct the mistakes of the week that has passed. I feel more energized and more optimistic. I wake up early, I work out a bit, I cook breakfast. I feel inspired. I try to be as optimistic as possible. Mondays never felt the same way.

It really isn’t going to be the same though once I find a job I would hate eventually, but I realized, what if I start thinking otherwise? Of course, I’d say this now because I’m bored to death, but I want to believe that maybe I can change that. Maybe I can try to see Monday as a clean slate, as a new beginning, as a day I should look forward to just as any other day of the week, just as they say in those motivational buzzfeed/thoughtcatalog/medium articles. Maybe I should give it a little more enthusiasm and maybe then, can it also bring much happiness and positivity in return.

P.S. was supposed to post this last week, but you know, Monday blues. LOL.

 

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