Wish upon a star *

Friday, October 09, 2015

Vacation, worth it?

Sometimes I do wonder why people wants to go on vacation.

Before the trip, you have to either rush like mad to finish off all your task on hand or passed it down to co-worker (if there is one for you to pass over).

After the trip, you have to come back to more work, catch back up to what you have missed when you were away, read a lot of emails that you have missed while away.

Maybe one should consider going on a virtual vacation instead. With Internet, it is possible to "travel" the world just by sitting in front of the computer. Google Map has street view, you get to see 360 view of anywhere just by dropping the little yellow man. You can read a lot of reviews and other people's experience by blog surfing. You can learn all the history of a place by reading articles in Wiki and TripAdvisor. Best of all, no worries of exchange rate and no budget worry about.

This is the modern world.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Haze and the weekend

It's the weekend again.

We have an event to time on Sat, albeit a small one of less than 600 runners. It's just a 10km run, so we should be able to wrap up pretty early. The run was flagged off at 6:30am with just one outside checkpoint.

There was a bit of haze in the morning, I'd think it is quite a bad haze to be running 10km competitively. If it was me who had signed up, I'd really be on the fence whether to run or not. After all, registration fee had been paid. Anyway, true enough, we manage to wrap up everything before 9.30am.

As always, after completing an event we always reward ourselves with a hearty meal. We went for western breakfast at Macallum Connoisseurs. I opt for the Connoisseur's Breakfast which consist of a sausage, 2 pcs of bacon, salad with passion fruit dressing, poached eggs, 2 slices of bread with avocado spread and my favourite of all, portobello mushroom! No coffee for me because I was trying to cut down expenses saving money for the up-coming Europe Trip. Save RM10 :P

Verdict: Portobello mushroom is the best. Huge and juicy in its original taste. Perfect! The salad is nice as well, I especially love the passion fruit dressing. It is unique. The passion fruit taste really nice and refreshing. The poached eggs were very well done as well. On the other hand, the rest on the plate are only so-so. The sausage and the bacon are tasty, but they were too salty, The avocado spread were not original, they added something that makes it very sour, not to my liking. I'd prefer avocado in it's original form with just some pepper and salt. The toasted bread were too hard.

All in all, it was a filling breakfast at RM25.

Connoisseur's Breakfast

Then it was back home to get a much needed nap. I only managed a 3 hr sleep the night before. As I step out of shower and look out the window, the haze has suddenly become so much more worse than in the morning. "Oh no, there goes my LSD plan tomorrow morning". I am supposed to run my one and only 30km LSD in preparation for Amsterdam Marathon.

Can't see much of the condo in the distance, and the hills are totally out of sight

When I woke up at 3pm, the haze condition only becomes worse. I decided to stay indoor and eat whatever I can find in my kitchen, which is just maggi mee and some biscuits. And I found out that the gas of my stove has reach its end of life. I'll just have to settle for coffee and biscuit then. I spent the rest of my day in bed, alternating between COC and FB on phone and reading Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. This book belongs to Leang, she borrowed me few years back and I still haven't flip a single page! Since I am most likely going to visit Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, I think it'd be nice to start with the book.

And so my Sat and Sun were spent mostly on the bed. Haze condition didn't improve any bit. I was not inspired to go out at all. I had maggi mee in the morning, went out to QB for lunch with Liza and Kenneth, and spent the rest of Sun again in bed. And I still haven't finish the book....

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Of wine and dine...

Perfectly done, melt in your mouth pork belly

It started out as a nice dinner; fine dining with wine and good food. Then the story that I took it badly, I can't help but felt truly disappointed by it. And so, the night didn't end as well as it started...


Monday, September 21, 2015

Another half marathon

It's been awhile since I last wrote a post here, 13 months, that's how long it has been. A lot has change since then. I am no longer an engineer. I am not working in corporate world anymore. I am not writing so much anymore. I think I should start collecting memories again, life and experience came and went too fast. I need to slow it down and enjoy it more. So here I am today, trying to start penning again.

So, I have a full marathon race coming soon in 1 month time. I have not been running enough to complete 42km comfortably; i.e. I am under train for this marathon. I have lost my motivation in running. My longest distance so far is 19.5km, prior to this was 15km. Because of that, I sign up for a half marathon to encourage myself to cover longer distance. I haven't been running half marathon races for awhile now, so it is kinda exciting to be running one.

Chin Chin found us a half marathon, it was the Fire Fighter Cyberjaya Night Half Marathon. Wei Koon was also interested so all 3 of us signed up. We travel to KL on Sat morning in Wei Koon's comfy little Jazz. Chin Chin has a pacer photo shoot and pacer briefing in Mid Valley that same day, so we hang out in Mid Valley until her thing is over at 3pm. Then we had a short rest in her sibling's house before driving to Cyberjaya for the run, starting at 8pm. Visibility was not great, but it didn't look too bad. Haze haze haze :(

A fallen tanker on the highway causing traffic jam, near Bukit Merah

My plan for this run? Run it like a LSD. No racing. Cap at a usual easy LSD pace of 6:25 to 6:40 mins/km. At the start line we met Hui Sung, fast runner from Penang. I wasn't feeling well then, I don't know why, perhaps nervous? Even with a LSD plan in mind, I am still quite kiasu. Can't finish too slow...I have a reputation to keep...haha. 2hr 30mins is the max time I gave myself. Cannot be slower than that.

So off we go at 8pm sharp. The first km was hard to run at my own pace. Everyone around me ran so fast! My watch was showing a sub 6mins pace. I can't possibly maintain that kind of pace for 21km. NO way, slow down! It's hard to slow down when people around are running so fast. You just kind of go with the flow. I manage a 6:11 mins/km average in the first km. I keep reminding myself to slow down. The road was very dark too, no street lamp at all. There were lamp post but all not working. After a while, I got into my own comfortable pace maintaining between 6:20 to 6:30.

At the first water station, I saw people crouching on the ground helping themselves with drinks, there were no tables and I don't see water. Only 1.5l bottles of 100 plus. I decided to skip that water station even though I felt quite thirsty. A few km more, I started to see people walking. Haiz, can't understand why people would want to sign up for a running event and start walking after 5km. What's the point? Should just save the RM70 and walk in nearby park. Not far after the 5km mark, our 21km route merge with 10km and I was regretting not taking a sip at the first water station. With the 10km merging in, I am quite sure water is going to run low in the coming water station if the first one is so badly managed.

True enough at the 2nd water station, I heard the volunteer said they are low on water but they have 100 plus. He didn't even pour the water into cup, but holding a 1.5l bottle of water. I take that bottle from him (and surprisingly he hand it to me) and pour some water into my mouth. Pass it back to him after that and continue my journey.

The 21km route was kind of rolling. The climb was long though not very steep, but it was still taxing on my under-trained legs. The distance went by very slowly. At 12km water station, I decided to take a gel. At that point I was still feeling alright. I was over-taking people. There wasn't very many women in sight, so no one for me to chase after. At 15km, we pass by the Lim Kok Wing University. Only 6km to go, I told myself. Can't wait for this to be over, my body was starting to get really tired. I am not breathing hard and not short of breath, just my legs and body tired. Signs of under training. There was a malay lady 200m ahead of me. I make her my target and push on. Slope over slope we had to overcome.

At 3km to finish, I was surprised by a small size lady coming from behind me running strong overtaking me. Right after that came a hill! Hill was never my forte, the distance between this lady and the malay lady got further and further away. I took a deep breath, re-strategise my steps (switching to small step but higher cadence, read that it is better for uphill run). The Malay lady also slowed down and was overtaken by small size lady. I was getting close to her too. I continue to trail behind both of these lady refusing to let go. Ahhh! Finally it was downhill. I pick up my pace, overtake the malay lady and chase after small size lady. 1km to finish, I was just right behind her...and then I was running side by side with her. We pace together for awhile, until when I see the finish line ahead, I give all I have left and pick up my pace. Speeding to the finish line, I can feel the cramp on my left calf and inner thigh of right leg. It was just a few hundreds meter to go, I pushed to the finish line and yes! Made it and was given a 9th placing finish tag! Wow, surprise surprise. I was very happy with myself. 2hr 12mins was my time which average out to 6:22mins/km pace.

Turns out all 3 of us also get placing. Chin Chin got 3rd place and Wei Koon at 10th. We stayed for prize presentation ceremony at 11pm. More good news at prize presentation. I got upgraded to 8th place and Wei Koon at 9th, not sure what happen there but it's good news so I am not complaining. Both of us got a plaque, and Chin Chin had more. She get cash prize RM500 as well as a box of KT Tape. All 3 of us didn't go home empty handed ;)

From Penang: Hui Sung 1st place Women Senior, Wei Koon 9th Men Senior, Chin Chin 3rd Women Open, me at 8th Women Open

Stinky as hell, we stop by Jejantas Sungai Buloh for a quick shower, then head straight back to Penang. Arrived in Penang at about 3:30am.

Whew! What a long and tiring day, but satisfying... :)

This and a finisher is what I get for landing in 8th placing

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Are You Blind? The Embarrassing Truth About Malaysians

How can our country get any nearer to being a develop nation if its people are not opening up their mind? Instead of moving forward, I feel as if we have been stagnant for the past 10 years or worst still, we may actually be moving backwards. Technology may have made its way into Malaysia, but all of these advancement does not mean anything when the mindset of our people were confined within what they believe is correct. So many of my friends have left the country and are residing elsewhere. Some have even given up their citizenship, all disappointed and has loosen hope towards our ruling government.


I hope to live to see a better Malaysia. I love my country. 57 years gone, there are still a lot to be done... Selamat Menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

First experience with Penang Run Series

I ran the Penang Run Series today. Penang Run Series is an interesting concept whereby the series consist of 4 half marathon distance races with different route each time. All the races are point-to-point, meaning the start and end point is a different place. By the end of the 4 races, participants would have covered around Penang Island on foot. The 4 races are 2 to 3 months apart.

Today I ran the third series taking me from Sg Pinang in Balik Pulau to Teluk Bahang. It was a tough route as it brings us up the Balik Pulau hill; 5km of continuous uphill. The Nine Emperor God Festival is often associated with rain. True enough to the Chinese belief, the rain started the night before as I was going to bed. When I woke up at 2sth, it was still pouring. When I leave the house at 3.30am, it was still raining!

When I reach Tg Bungah, the rain has slowed to a drizzle. After meeting up with Sam, Gary and AL, we continue in a car to have our car park in Teluk Bahang where the end point is. Gary is the driver. At the time when we leave the car to board the bus, it wasn't raining anymore. We board the bus, and after about 35mins or so, we reach the start point at Sg Pinang. It was 5am. Queued half an hour for toilet and by the time I am done with toilet, I feel the droplets of rain again. The rain was on and off for next half and hour and amazing enough, the rain stopped as we're queuing up at the start line. At 6am sharp, the start gun went off. So was the rain. It was as if the gun broke a hole in the sky and the rain just poured down on the poor runners who are already cold. Instead of starting the run, I ran into the shed for cover.

Before the start (with Boon Wee, Paris and their friend)

Many other runners did the same thing, they hide in shelter hoping the rain would once again stop. It continues to rain cats and dogs not showing any signs of slowing down. 2 mins past before I decided to go for it. Run in the rain, wooohooo!!

Within seconds, my shoes were soak. It was all the way running in the rain. At some point it does slowed to a drizzle, but never for long. It was cold at the beginning, but I warmed up after awhile and it doesn't bother me anymore after that. Whenever I feel thirsty, I just need to close my mouth and swallow. I can feel the fresh water in my mouth already. I choke on water when the rain was too heavy, too much water going into the mouth...hilarious.

It was a really fun run for me thanks to the rain. Enjoyed the route up Balik Pulau. I've bike there often enough, but this is the first time I am going up this road on foot. On the downhill slope - 4.5km of downhill - many people overtook me. You would have think going downhill is effortless and easy, not for me. I was going downhill at almost 7mins pace. I ran the flats faster than my downhill. I had to stop to stretch a couple of times going downhill when I feel my right knee tightening up.

The view was beautiful at Teluk Bahang Dam. We had to run into the dam and u-turn out. It was very windy there. It was another 2km to the finishing line. Went down that slope from the dam to butterfly farm, pass Escape Themepark and there it is, the school which serves as the finishing point. It was not raining anymore at that point. I finish in 2hr 22mins.

It stopped raining when I finish (with Paris who finish in 2hr 12mins)

Took 2 cups of Vico, a couple of photos and splash...there it goes again! Everybody run for cover. Some just don't care anymore. The rain continues on in full mode for the next 2hrs. The performance, and prize presentation ceremony still had to go on, all while the rain is pouring. I don't think anybody can hear what the MC was saying because of the noise coming from the zink roof where we're taking cover.

We stayed until 10 plus in the morning, cold and wet. Car was parked quite far away. Had to walk under the rain to get to the car. The WW gang gathered and enjoyed the superbly tasty Roti Jala near the Teluk Bahang roundabout. Sharing our run stories, and of our friends result in Melbourne who also just completed the Melbourne Marathon.

It was a very well organized event despite the rain. I am glad I decided to run it...

Cheers to running!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feb 2013: A chill out month

Feb was a short month but a sweet one. Only 28 days in this month, out of that which I took 2 weeks off from work in separate occasion.

First of all it was Chinese New Year. I took a week off from work where my whole family went for a Road Trip to Koh Samui. We were being adventurous; not truly familiar with the road and can't speak or read Thai , we venture across the Thai border with a map and a borrowed GPS unit. Koh Samui is very far from Taiping, ~600km away. Because it was a free and easy Road Trip, we actually take our time with the drive stopping by cafes when tired with sitting in the car. We also stop by one of the bigger town along the way for a visit and photos. And since it was a bit late when we're done, we spent a night there in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Early the next day we drove to Don Sak to board the ferry over to Koh Samui.

Ferry from Don Sak to Koh Samui, quite similar to Penang ferry but their passenger deck upstairs is air-conditioned

I miss out on school mate gathering again this year as I was away in Koh Samui.
I miss the gathering last year too, being away in New Zealand.
Most of my school mates by now has either gotten married or had babies already. But I am still being a baby myself. But it's ok, I prefer being a baby than making babies anyway.

After a full week off from work, I was back at work for 3 days and I was off again for another week for HK & Macau trip on top of HK Marathon. Weeee....how fun! If only I can do that every month...

Other than a holiday month, it's also a month of spending spree. I bought a new phone (in replacement of my lost iPhone 4S) and bought a new running watch.

Loving my new gadget more each day

Some photo sharing follows... :)

First time dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Robuchon au Dome was located on the top of The Grand Lisboa Hotel, at level 43. I get to sit facing the glass window, it was amazing food with a view. Perfect! (although a bit hazy lar...). This is also my first experience with heated toilet seat and automated toilet seat cover. OK, I admit I am a frog under coconut shell, but those automated things are so cool :-D

Waiting for food to be serve

View of Macau from level 43

"This is where I was..."

Strolling along the UNESCO Heritage trail, you know you're in the UNESCO Heritage zone when you see wavy black and white tiles

Senado Square with Chinese Lantern decorations

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

SCHKM 2013

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon is my 5th marathon so far.

As with all my other marathons, I train for it not wanting to suffer or get injured during the 42.195km run. Running marathon is not something that I will take lightly. Even with 2 months training, I still find it very tough to complete, it will always always involved some sort of pain...no matter how hard you train. (I am saying this as a normal human being, Kenyans are super human...they seems to be born to run so 42km is nothing to them)

Anyway, 2 months prior to event day I have started training. Bought a new pair of running shoes on the New Year (new year gift to meself) and from then I started my marathon training in it. I actually do not have that many weekends to train for LSD (Long Slow Distance), juz 6 weekends. So I started my first weekend with 21km LSD, the next one 23km, 25km, 21km, 30km, 25km...and that's it, 6 weeks homework done! I felt really tortured during that 6 weeks...I dreaded weekend during those times. I was so glad when it was all over.

Huge SCHKM poster on the wall in one of the MTR station in HK

And so, CNY week flew past and it is time for Hong Kong. Time to get the marathon over and done with. I was expecting HK weather to be colder but the few days before the marathon when I was there, temperature hover around 19C to 22C. It was cool but wasn't cold.

I was traveling with Chin Chin, both of us running the full marathon. Our race bib collection date is on Saturday and collection is in Victoria Park in HK Island. Few months before today, we received a letter that state our registration information and collection date and time.

Banner directing us to the collection tent

Victoria Park is quite a big park. Many people were running around the park that morning. I was also tempted to do a short run to warm up the legs, but I didn't have running clothes with me at that time. Bummer...should have pack it in my bag :(

On top of that, I was having problem with my legs on Sat because walk too much the day before. We joined Gim May and gang for makanthon and shopathon on Fri evening. Because we wanted to makan along the way, we walked 3 MTR stations instead of riding it. Bad decision. Woke up feeling some sort of pain on my left hamstring. I am quite sure it is not phantom aches or imaginary pain.

Got my runners pack and happy! The bag will also be use as a check-in baggage during marathon day

We were looking out for other familiar faces at collection area but didn't bump into anyone else. Whatsapp Gim May and gang and nobody responded to us (there's free wifi in Victoria Park provided by HK Gov). So we left the collection place headed for a carbo load lunch, and the plan is to go back to rest early and hope my poor leg will feel better the next day.

Here's what's in the bag for a marathon that cost HKD300; a bib, a baggage plastic bag, a technical T-shirt, a runner's guidebook, a statistic book showing you information about SCHKM (price money, number of runners for past few years, sponsors, etc etc)

We were all staying in Tsim Sha Tsui where the marathon start point is located. Gim May and gang manage to book a guesthouse closer to the startline, where as our guesthouse is one MTR station away.

On race day, I woke up feeling nervous (as like all other race day). Get ready, had breakfast, unload waste (hehe) and took the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui station. It was cold and windy that morning. I had my disposable raincoat on to keep warm.

Tey always has his camera handy

We walk towards baggage deposit area, there was a long row of trucks waiting for us. My truck was no. 47, so I actually had to walk quite a bit to the last few trucks. Submitted baggage, we slowly make our way towards the start line. There's so many people everywhere. From the brochure, it mention that there were 72,000 runners sign up in total. 13,000 people signed up for full marathon category alone. Organizer even have to split full marathon runners into 2 different group, the faster group started at 6:40am, while the slower group starts at 7:10am. Well, me, of course, belongs to the 7:10am group :-)

I was quite far back from the start line because I had to go queue up for toilet. It was so cold that morning that I had to go more often than usual. Before the start, 2 MC were talking in Cantonese...poor angmoh-s would be so lost don't know what they are talking about. Throughout the race, all announcements and cheering were in Cantonese. Not very foreigner friendly lor...

We were let off on the dot at 7:10am (according to my watch which were sync to GPS time). One or two km after the start, we leave behind Tsim Sha Tsui's concrete forest and reach an open area, both side of the road were slope with little trees. That little piece of green slope becomes peeing ground for many guys. So many of them started running to the side of the road and mark their territory, LOL. It's a sight to behold.

Km4 is the first water station. I was quite thirsty at that point so I ran towards the water station. There were really so many people that I had to stop completely not able to move forward at all. I learnt later that actually, water station in HK Marathon stretches 500m or more (about 10 tables) so there's no worries about missing water stops. After the first water station, I got smarter. For the following water station, I usually skip the first few tables and let the crowd thin out a bit then only I run to the table to grab water.

Full marathon runners run across 3 bridges and 3 tunnels; Stonecutters Bridge, Tsing Ma Bridge, Ting Kau Bridge, Nam Wan Tunnel, Cheung Tsing Tunnel and Harbour Tunnel.

On the first bridge, Stonecutters Bridge is where the port is located, I think. Because there were a lot of those containers and those metal thingy I see near Penang Port. This is where I saw the first accident. Opposite the road where runners coming back, saw this old man lying by the side of the road with blood on his face and he seems unconscious. I am guessing he fall face first on the road. There were people helping him.

After the first bridge we went into a tunnel to pass this hill very similar to the Ipoh tunnel. It suddenly felt very warm but nothing too uncomfortable. My pace automatically increased to 6 mins/km pace because of the sudden absence of wind and I was running at the same effort. Never underestimate the power of wind, it can tires you down. The wind had been strong that day, running on the bridges was tough...so I am quite happy to be in the tunnel away from wind.

Coming out from the tunnel, we continue on to Tsing Ma Bridge and u-turn at one point. We get to see who's ahead of us and say hi to familiar faces; only if they heard me calling them, sigh, runners with earbuds stuck in their ears. Back to the start of the Tsing Ma Bridge we make a sharp turn onto the last bridge called Ting Kau Bridge. As we were reaching the sharp turn, I saw a 2nd accident happen just in front of me. This guy, I believe having tired legs, just trip and fell knee first on the rough tar road. Ouch! I heard the sound of skins scraping the road...it sounds really really painful. As it was downhill that time, we had a bit of momentum on us so with a fall, for sure the scrap would be real bad.

It was about 18km at this point. I wasn't enjoying the view anymore because it is just bridge, water and a lot of roads. I started to feel the pain on my skin at underarm (brushing of skin on arm with jersey) and my chest (brushing of skin with sports bra). No thanks to the new bottle of Body Glide that doesn't prevent chaffing. My old bottle works really well for me but this new one doesn't work :(

I stop at the First Aid tent to get a plaster from them. Stick it to where it pains and continue on. Plaster helps on the chest, but the underarm one wouldn't stick. It was really uncomfortable and painful. Ran into the 2nd Tunnel and again, my pace improve to low 6 mins/km pace. It was around km26 coming out of the tunnel. I am looking forward to the Harbour Tunnel linking Kowloon to Hong Kong Island as I remember that it will be km 31 when we enter it, which is also very close to finish line. At this point, I can't wait for the marathon to be over. Everywhere is in pain!

Doing some calculations in my head along this boring 6km, it seems that I will still meet my target finish time of 4hr 40mins. I am pretty happy with the thought of that. Boring...until came the Harbour Tunnel. Steep down into the tunnel (~20m below sea level), 2km in the tunnel and 500m very very steep climb back up. 500m to climb from 25m below sea level to 5m above sea level, after been running 34km. That is like a super duper tough feat. If that is not tough enough, after coming out from the tunnel, we have to run up a ramp, some sort like a flyover some more. Arghhh, I slow to almost a walking pace.

Coming down the ramp, we ran along Victoria Harbour towards Victoria Park where the finishing line awaits. At this point, the marathon and half marathon route were already joined together so there were really a lot of people. At some parts, it was really tough to run as there were many people slowed down to walk already. I was really tired and in pain. I saw my 4:40 goal slowly slipping away. I wanted to run faster, push harder but there's just no more energy in me to do so. Pain and tired is the only thing in mind, and of course the disappointment of not meeting my targeted goal. Regardless, I still have hope to better my previous Personal Best.

I kept running (or what it seems like running to me) with a very heavy feet, dodging people along the way.

And there it was, the sign that says last km to the finishing line. Wow, that must have been the longest ever 1km I have ever ran...

Zoom! and I did it. I cross the finish line at 4hr 45mins. 2 mins better than my previous Marathon time. Yay!

Boo! that I missed my goal by 5mins :-(

We were urge to keep moving forward as not to block the finishing line. Walk along...and just right ahead, I saw Chin Chin. She finished a min ahead of me. As we continue walking, this guy standing beside us suddenly collapse on the floor. He had some sort of seizure. First aid-er quickly rushed to his help. As we walk along we were passed goody bag and finisher medal. In the end, reached our baggage collection area. Collection was fast, I just need to go back to my truck number and they can find my bag very quickly.

Look at the amount of people; Background: skyline of Hong Kong

Overall, it was a very well organize event seeing that there are 72,000 runners. Volunteers are cheerful and helpful. Temperature was cooling at around 20C. The problem is the overwhelm amount of people, the many 'hills' that I have to climb (bridges and flyovers), the windy condition and the crowded road.

I ran from 7am to 12pm. Got a very clear tan line of my running jersey on my shoulders. I didn't put sunblock.

Look dry right? If in Malaysia, I sure wet from head to toe (still can manage a little smile although I am very much in pain)

And that ends a very long story of my fifth marathon experience.

p/s: sorry no photo from the run. I am serious runner, no carry camera to run :-P

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