Laos - Rainy Season Ride 2015

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by brian_bkk, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    G'day All,

    Didn't really plan on a big ride in the rainy season..
    Had to cross to update my visa.

    Talking with Jim and Chris. They were planning a trip up to LOQ..
    So hey, why not join.

    It has been a pretty dry rainy season compared to the norm..
    So we would map out a rough plan.. If that is achievable then make another plan when we get to LPQ.

    I arrive in VTE before the other guys..
    Need to update the visa and enjoy catching up with friends.. Fuark, Thongkhon etc.

    Also made a bunch of new friends this trip.. So a winner all around coming up for those few days.

    First get over the Friendship bridge.

    Thai side very easy and very friendly.. Lao side.. Very unfriendly and the run around.
    Send you all over the place.. Different rooms to register the bike for the first time through VTE.. New system only applies to VTE.. Doesn't matter if you crossed previously at other crossings. I had done this with the new system and they lost it in the computer.

    Sent here send over there.. 1.5 hours later.. All done and leave.
    I warned Chris and Jim.. Tried to help them out with where to go..
    But they had a different run around.. But eventually through.

    Harri went through very smooth.. So go and figure..

    Quick shot on the Friendship bridge crossing in to Lao.
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    Beers and Cheers along the Mekong with Thongkhoon
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    On Saturday before the fellas arrived Thongkhoon met me and we went for a ride to the army and peoples defence museum. Followed by lunch.

    Lunch on the outskirts of VTE.
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    Some fabulous sunsets by Highland bar over the Mekong.
    I was there every night and was never disappointed.

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    I also caught up with a Facebook Friend and we are now real friends LOL..
    Paul.. He is mountain biking all over Laos for 2 or 3 years.. Loves it.. Great guy and great to meet him.. We drank copious amounts of beer lao and also met up again for dinner and breakfast when Jim and Chris arrived.

    The fellas have arrived. Let the adventure begin.

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    More to come...
     
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  3. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    We have a late start.

    The plan is to ride along the Mekong to Xanakham.
    Leave around 12 or 1.. Arrive at 4pm.

    Xanakham has changed. The Blue guest house with Mekong view is no longer open.
    A few more bars and restaurants along the river.

    A brand new hotel on the main road leading in to town.
    Nice and clean with WIFI.

    We have a late start.. Thongkhoon and his gf join us for breakfast at Jo Ma.

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    The Mekong is fantastic tarmac for approx 65 km. Then it is the narrow old road.. Still OK.
    Then you hit the turn off to Mueang Fueang and it is rough dirt with rocks etc..
    17km before Xanakham it is a nice track along the Mekong.

    The nice part along the Mekong.

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    Arrive, check in and head to the Mekong for Beer O'clock.

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    A ripper sunset.

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    Some of the locals also enjoying Beer O'clock

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    Karaoke hour.. The young fella did all right.
    The bright lights of Chiang Khan in the back ground

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    We head back for the night.. Early start tomorrow.

    More to come..
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
  4. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    We are up and hit the road at 7.10 am...

    Xanakham to Kasi..
    Depending on how the track is.. Muddy etc.. We will push on through to LPQ or stay the night in Kasi.

    The first part of the track to the Pak Lay turn off is paved.. Very good condition.
    Then you drop off to the dirt and continue straight up.

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    It really is a lovely track..Big thanks to Moto-Rex for taking me on this a few years back.
    This time around.. It wasn't too dusty and lovely green with some fun mud as we made it closer to Kasi.

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    We were both riding through the mud ruts left by the trucks..
    I went through a little faster and Chris had a mud spa..

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    But his right side is clean...

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    MUD MUD MUD

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    The closer you get to Kasi.. The road works begin.
    Not how far down this will go.. I hope not the entire way!

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    The muddy tourists refuel in Kasi..

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    We are making good time. Have lunch and push on to LPQ over the new Kasi road to Mueang Nan.

    More to come
     
  5. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    We start the ascent up to the top.
    Need to check my GPS.. But believe I saw 1930 metres at one glance.

    Bloddy steep. Have done this before with Rex when the road was being constructed.
    Then again with the Versys.

    As we start to go up the steep switchbacks.. It was chucking it down..
    Not fun.. A few massive land slides being cleaned up.. I mean massive.

    Finally the rain eases up as we poke out of the fog.

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    Then we go a little higher and the you see this on the other side.

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    Stunning with brilliant rainy season green..

    WARNING.
    The road on this spot is like ice.. Chris had an off.. I saw it.. Luckily at low speed and no injury.

    It really is like ice.. The tarmac has melted in the heat, the trucks, oil, add rain = ice.

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    15 mins later it is dry.

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    Some nice scrapes on the body armour.

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    Arrive safe and sound in LPQ.. Find a nice guest house by the river.
    Will post details later.. Lovely balcony, good rooms 150,000 kip.

    Beer O'clock.

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    More to come.
     
  6. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Rest day and a wonder around LPQ.

    Never get tired of rambling around Luang Prabang.

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    More to come
     
  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Kuang Si Waterfall

    Approx 26 km from LPQ.

    Lovely with the rainy season flow.

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    On the way to the waterfall, just after the last turn left.

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    More to come...
     
  8. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Chris took us to the school he has helped out with some fund raising.
    Also become good friends with the staff / teachers.

    It was a real treat to visit the school and see the good work being done.

    The kids were away as there is a tip planned for the next day.

    The teachers room

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    The bikes here are for the poorest kids.. The kids that need help to get to school.
    Chris and his friends raised some money and sponsored 6 of the bikes.

    After they finish the year. They return the bikes.

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    The library

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    Old computers donated by the World Bank.

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    Some naughty students being kept in for detention.

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    The origins of LEOT and where they are now.
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    If you would like to know more about LEOT.
    Please follow the link below.

    http://www.leot.org.uk

    You can also make a donation or sponsor a scholarship for a nominal amount.

    More to come...
     
  9. phuketrichard

    phuketrichard Ol'Timer

    <p>Great report, Thanks</p>
     
  10. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    <p>Come rain or come shine! Laos fancy to ride or, alternatively, at least to watch nice pictures and follow your itineraries. Great moody muddy shots Brian and interesting report. Makes me “home sick” but still waiting for better skies before crossing the Mekong.</p>
     
  11. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Splishing and Splashing in the Lao mud. There's no stopping you guys.

    Looks to be a cool ride you mud larks are having. Beautiful photos Brian, the waterfall looks sweet.

    Moto-Rex
     
  12. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    <p>Great report, great photos Brian. Thanks Mate. Yes, the Kuang Si waterfall looks gorgeous. </p>
     
  13. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Now at Long Chieng..

    Rained in today and there is a land slide on the way to Phonsavan..
    If it is not cleared tomorrow.. We will head back out the other way.

    Catch up on the ride report.

    Jim had not been north of Vientiane before..
    Having done the new Kasi road to Luang Prabang it was only right to take him back via the 13 and take in the magnificent views.

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    We overnight in Vang Vieng and ride off at 8am.
    Unfortunately.. My memory card reader buggered up and the pics are lost from the ride today.
    Not too many anyway.

    You go south of Vang Vieng approx 15 km turn left. Instead of heading for the ferry turn left at the sign, then you pass one check point.. Smiles and opens the gate.. Then way in the road goes to the left.. but there is another gate. The track is narrow and you get some good views of the dam and mountiains though here.. Then you drop down at the river and cross the bridge.
    There is fuel for sale if you need it. You are very close to the new mining roads that get you in to Long Chieng.

    It wasn't too tough.. The land slides had been cleaned up and just a few muddy spots.

    We arrive at Long Chieng.
    Second time here.. ( Will add this to the Long Chieng Report from Jan 2015 too. )

    Very relaxed here now.. No army coming over taking your details.
    We were allowed up the the former Kings house. (This was not the case last January)

    At first told I could take a picture.. But as I took it.. Told cannot. All smile.
    I had already taken it.. but was not asked to delete it.. Out of respect to the locals there I will not post it on the forum.. Sure it can be found if you Google. The house is nothing special.. Run down big old house.

    Mobile tower at the front.. The cloud had it all fogged in.. It was a slippery muddy ride up there.

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    The pics above taken down the track from the Kings house.. It was a bit clearer here.

    When it stops raining. We will go back out and continue looking around..

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  14. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    The main paved road, runway on left in to Long Chieng

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    The haunted temple

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    More to come
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Arh yes Long  Chieng - again. You're getting to be the expert on going in there.

    Some great photos & colour in the wet season eh, but so far it looks like you've generally lucked out with conditions.

    I'm really appreciating the Secret Air Base photos and that has more or less been the holy grail  for bikers in S E Asia for a long time & you've led the way for others to follow. I reckon there is going to be a stampede of riders trying to go there this high season, & the next  one, & the next one..

    I love these photos most (so far)

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    Keep going - fantastic trip & report.
     
  16. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Time for breakfast. It is still raining..

    We were informed the landslide is about 60 km out.. So hopefully when we get there is is cleared or we can at least pass.

    Otherwise back to Long Chieng or camp over night at a nearby village.

    We all bought our camping gear just in case we did get stuck somewhere.

    Breakfast view of the haunted temple

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    Chris filling up before we head off.

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    It is taking some time to move the petrol from the containers to the drum..
    So I head up and take another pic of the mighty KLX on the Long Chieng runway.

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    We head off in rain gear and pretty miserable weather..
    It has been raining now for two days non stop. Started just after we pulled in the first afternoon.

    We slipped and slid and spun in mud, rode through the ruts and watch land slides slowly crumbling and creeping across the track.. In some parts recent land slides had just been cleared.

    There were parts of the track with rocks and a torrent of water across. You could see a crack in the earth. But unsure how deep it was. Decided to test the depth before riding through.

    It was tricky enough.. But if really deep need to power on over and try not to lose it on the wet rocks once clear.
    It turned out to be shallow.. But best to check these things first than get stuck for an hour or two or worse.

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    We reach the big land slide that had blocked the path the day before.

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    Peep Peep..
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    He pats down the area he is working on and moves out the way.

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    I was leading.. looking at this and thinking... Will I go up to my arm pits here..

    Powered on through with a bit of slipping and sliding but no dramas.

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    Another land slide slowly happening as we pass.

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    You can actually see the soil and rocks slowly crumbling and rolling out on to the track.

    Lot of slipping and sliding.. The down hill bits were tricky and like ice in some parts

    Go to press the button on my Go Pro and slide right across the track.. Just managed to keep it under control.

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    This is the track from Long Chieng to Phonsavan in the wet season.
    90 KM approx, took us 4 hrs. with a couple of stops for a warm drink.

    It may be a shorter distance from Phonsavan. But the track is much more difficult.
    There was not much progress that I noticed since the ride in January 2015.

    The other way from Xaisomboun is good graded all the way to Long Chieng.

    Do able on any bike with decent tyres if it has been dry.
    The other track to Phonsavan a little more challenging.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  17. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    I have also put this under the Long Chieng Thread..

    Will cross post a few pics too later on.

    Take a ride down the runway :)

     
  18. Ticino

    Ticino Ol'Timer

    .... for this wonderful update and pictures.
     
  19. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    We leave Phonsavan and head down the 1D.

    There is a turn off that Chris knows and wants to try to get to Xaisomboun.
    There is a sign 60km.

    We stop for a coffee and ask the locals.. They say is it very hilly and tough.
    Best to go back and around.

    We decide to stick our noses in and take a look..
    Anything to tough we can turn back and spend the night in a Guest House 20 km down the road.

    Very rocky trail up with a few slippery muddy parts in the track.. but mostly rocks.

    Then things start to get really interesting.

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    Hmmm fast flowing.. Chris checks the depth.. or is he fishing?

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    The other side of the track looks fun..

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    We had a vote.. 2 - 1
    The shortest goes first. True Democracy ;-)

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    If it goes horribly wrong.. This is where the Bike ends up.

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    We get Chris's bike over.. Start to get mine over. Luckily Chris spotted the Swing arm bolt was sticking out.. The nut had worked lose. Damn.. Back we go.. whack the bolt in first.

    I take it slowly down the rocks etc.. we go to a couple of shops..
    Luckily the last one found a nut that fitted in the junk pile.

    5000 kip and fixed.. Getting late and the weather threatening..
    We decide to save this for another day and head on 20 km down the road to a guest house.

    More to come
     
  20. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    Great trip and report.

    Subscribe
     
  21. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    After our aborted attempt to get to Xaisomboun.. Because of my Swing arm bolt..

    We stayed about 20 km down the road..

    The sun was out.. We were wet and damp, smelly after the last few days of riding in the rain..

    We took the opportunity to dry out the gear and ourselves.

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    More to come..
     
  22. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    The night before we had a few beers in town.
    Not much there.. a real little chinatown when it comes to the shops.

    A hydro dam being built up the road. All the shops are Chinese with Chinese goods.

    We decide to leave at 8am and get some food along the way as not much in this town.

    Wake up early.. The Lao people staying at the Guest House said there is a flood 6 km down the road.
    It really really really rained hard all night.

    It was still raining in the morning.. We were in no rush and heading for Paxsan.
    Decided to have a later start and see if the rain lifted.

    Jim and I decided to go and check out the flood.. It wouldn't be the first time the locals don't have it 100% right.
    Plus it was only 6 km down the road.

    On the way to the flooded road that it cut off.

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    We reach a landslide.. This is what is blocking the road.. Not a flood.

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    We decide to head back and find breakfast.. Wait for the rain to clear and come back around mid day.
    They will start clearing the road around 9 am and should be done by mid day.. It ended up being just after 1pm.

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    The traffic is building up both sides.

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    Some just couldn't wait and would climb around.

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    Chris in his little landslide number.

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    Below is a short video of the landslide and the scooter struggling to get over the land slide.



    More to come..
     
  23. Chris. s

    Chris. s New Member

    Great report and photo's!

    I was at Phonsavan late last year and intend to go again later this year riding a Versys. Can you recommend a route that that would be safe (the best) to go to Long Chieng?

    As i will be traveling alone i don't want to have a spill in the middle of nowhere.

    Thanks

    Chris
     
  24. harrythefinn

    harrythefinn Ol'Timer

    Hi,

    I honestly really would not recommend any of the roads into LS-20 A by yourself. It only takes one small slip, a twisted ankle and it is difficult to get the bike up again. There a some quite steep sections of loose rock/rubble and massive drop offs on the side.   I have previously ridden alone on remote tracks and after a few scares much prefer company on them, even if only to share the views.  Even in a group I carry enough to be self sufficient if separated or some ones rear axle nut is different size when sharing common tools in a group.

    Not saying it can't be done, just take care and be prudent, don't want to lose any one.

    With the current interest in going there due to the authorities loosening up access it should be possible to get together with another rider or two for the route.

    Good luck.
     
  25. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    The Versys might be a bit of a handful.

    But saying that.. It really depends on the riders ability.
    I have seen some riders take the Versys in the most amazing places in Kanchanaburi.
    Need to make sure you have the correct tyres for this.

    We came in from just south of Vang Vieng. Mostly good.
    But there had been land slides and wash outs.. Plus some mud to get through.
    Though not too much.

    The area from where the mine works are heading to Long Chieng was pretty good.
    Hard packed all the way to Long Chieng main street. A few spots of mud and rock.
    If you came from Xaisomboun direction the road would be better or up from the 13 on the Phu Bia mining road which is paved.

    I would not feel comfortable with the weight and the Versys going from Long Chieng to Phonsavan.
    Even in January when there with Oddvar. Once you crossed over Skyline ridge and start going down the other side.
    It was slippery and greasy from the morning dew and the shade. It soon improved.. though tough going on a Versys I would imagine.

    The conditions to Phonsavan from Long Chieng have massively deteriorated from last January. (Pictures in the report)
    But.. Sure they will be in there quick sharp fixing it up once the rains have passed.

    This time it was chucking it down.. Light bike no drama..
    We all discussed how glad we were to be on the lighter bikes.

    As Harri says.. If you can go with a friend. That would be best.
    Plus one thing I really enjoyed about going to Long Chieng in January and again in August.
    - Sharing the experience with someone.. January was a bit special as we didn't really expect to get in .

    But the ride and scenery and the place are special and well worth a visit at any time of the year.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  26. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    We make it past the landslides heading down the 1D towards Paxsan.

    The guys want to head south.. I am not keen on another night in a small down with not much to do..
    Vientiane is not far away..

    So decide to push on and say our goodbyes about 20 or 30 KM north of Paxsan.
    approx 2.5 hrs to the hotel.. If not for the traffic and traffic lights across VTE would have been only a couple of hours.

    Where you turn right off the 1D towards Paxsan is in terrible repair.
    Potholes etc.. You can almost say it is unpaved for 20 or 30 km..

    Glad to be on the mighty KLX.

    Make it back to VTE and decide to have pizza.. Paul suggested PDR Pizza.
    I was ready for some good Farang food.. Plus it was nice to be in the warmth of VTE after the rain and cool evenings.

    Only going to stay that night and head back.. Thought.. Bugger it.. It is Friday tomorrow and then the weekend is here.
    Why not stay the weekend and enjoy VTE.. Plus Paul was still in town so we caught up for dinner and beer O'clocks most days.

    The river front has really come alive in VTE..

    I still prefer the old days with the market etc on the riverbank..
    BUT.. What they have done certainly is done well.

    Lets get PHYSICAL.....

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    Can't beat them.. Join them..

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    That pretty much wraps up this report.

    Verdict on Rainy Season riding????
    - We all agree.. We would do it again.. Great fun.
    - Nice to see all the green and colours.
    - No other people out there riding around..
    - You have everything to yourself.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016

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