Dual Sport Ride To Laos - Three Crf’s - Chiang Mai To Luang Namtha.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Endojim, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    This trip was done late October 2017.

    Spent a couple late nights at the shop drinking beer and prepping the bikes for my first trip to Laos.

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    Rally received Twin wall Renthal bars, Zeta Rally hand guards, Auxiliary LED lights mounted on the bars, 13 /45 gearing, Gold series chain, Yoshimura full exhaust system, bung braised in the header for A/F ratio "tuning", Electronic jet kit, K&N filter air filter, oversized foot pegs, brake and shift lever, Auxiliary 12 and 5VDC power plug. Tidy tail LED license plate holder, Front and rear tires with heavy-duty tubes, bead locks and a few other things I’m probably forgetting. Suspension and engine mods will be done later. What a huge improvement for the big girl...

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    My CRF received a new chain, custom LED lighting setup "not pictured". Well worth the time and effort because we did quite a bit of night riding coming home. A wind screen that probably would work great for a shorter person but for me being taller it created terrible buffeting. Both bikes were fitted with the giant loop coyote bags. Absolutely loved the way they fit and functioned. Wish I would have taken pictures the second night but needed to wake up at 4am.

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  2. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    We left about 5:30am from Chiang Mai.

    45488-02d453295ebeec852af32db1ed3ebd4d.

    Unfortunately I forgot my Riders Corner Laos map SD card at the house so the boys waited at the gas station while I rode back to retrieve it.

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    Nearing the Laos Boarder feeling pretty excited for the new adventure ahead of us. Took us approximately 2hours to clear immigration and customs. Spent about 2000 baht for the whole process.
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    For me the roads was awesome even with the ridges in the asphalt, huge potholes and gravel road transitions. CRF was great... don't go fast enough to get into to much trouble and soaks up the rough road.
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    Really cool to see all the kids waving to us as we rode by. They really love wheelies too smile.png
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    Left CM in the dark 5:30am and arrived Luang Namtha in the dark 6:30pm. Great day... Found a great hotel by chance. Secure, quite and was able to ride the bikes up to the front door.

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  3. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    We went out for dinner that night and found a place called "Bamboo lounge". Pizza was great and the beer lao was cold and cheap… Eat breakfast there as well, nice Cappuccino and fresh fruit.


    45506-e63b86423e2a6a6478b993632c818704.

    Plenty of friendly tree huggers in Namtha
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    After breakfast I realized I grabbed the wrong SD card for the GPS. So I used google map to recorded some way point for our day ride out of Namtha, a mix of two track and single track.
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    Hotel contact
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    The plan was follow the Namtha river south and turn east at the Nam Xe river.
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    I'm really good at pinching tubes or picking up nails. So it was not an issue with all the practice I get. Had it fixed in probably 15min. Nail got me this time.
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    The bike received a full jungle inspection.
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    As luck would have it we found beer laos a few KM’s down the road. Seen a truck with river rafting boats in the back while having a beer. Namtha river looked like it could be a great for a rafting trip.
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  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Nice ride. That's a bit of a long day from Chiang Mai with the border crossing - well done.

    I like the GPS you have a Garmin GPS Map 76CSX? I have 3 but only one is working now, damn!

    This not a bad looking guesthouse. Any idea on the price?
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  5. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Thanks David,

    Not too bad of a ride, we did have a 2hr breaking going through customs.:)

    It has been a good little GPS… but just too small and cumbersome to operate for me. I now have a Montana, which is much easier to use.

    Guesthouse was great… We stayed in their best rooms for just under 500bht a night. Liked the fact that there was only one entrance in and out with a tall block wall all the way around. Usual rock hard bed but my trusty air-sleeping pad took care of that issue.



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  6. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Day two cont...

    We followed the Namtha river south down to the Nam Xe river and hung a left east. The bridge I made a waypoint at had washed away. Center of the pictured below.

    45533-91cbcada12eb23584731c5ea634abbe4.

    When we arrive no one was around just two scooter parked. I walked the water crossing to see if it was doable but the bottom was litter with large slimy boulders. Not a good idea... Shortly after swamping my boots the owners of the canon showed up.
    45534-eb10f396ba0624d8615c500606e1eaa8.

    The negotiation... We actually paid them to come back later that night 9pm just in case the trail was impassable.
    45535-0b7c7b161f35f683b8104068f763e818.

    45536-3c95bc725fd88874fbedc62915019c7b.

    The big red fat girl was first to cross... They came very close to sinking several time on the way over to the other bank. I have a video... the video is funny to me because my buddy is a little pissed at me for splashing him with mud a few KM's back... It was an accident I swear smile.png
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    45538-3cad10735d189e6947d36951ae3c0387.

    45539-6ce8acd50facfcc42304c851779e4b16.

    This guy here with his daughter actually spoke pretty good English. He asked me to take a photo with his daughter.
    View attachment 123414

    Some action shots... The big man handled the Rally like an old pro...
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    45542-69cb6f81db59c3280118c30dc9a54784.

    45543-89529bedd42b144aaaa398f0de7ac2cb.
    45544-574dc941803e8e753625f9fbce41e5ed.

    Checking the route
    45545-e41ea63dd25aebdaf63b67c6985fb8d2.

    I was amazed by the beauty and the amount of awesome trails. Loving Laos
    45546-8af846fbea8bddf8a9bf8ba633dbafc7.

    45547-e3d6f256f44ddca179627141d2508776.

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    I think I could live here... Trails are everywhere...
    45551-1543ecc37ea732b5a9294e13ee3770df.

    45552-887929c0e70db83704b6c876a27cfe07.

    Primary transportation... Flip flops with a bag wrapped around their head. smile.png Very stout people.
    45553-39b96a32837e45e0de856e9baebff1a5.

    45554-f2a30b2ed23c36adfd773fcfce822c1d.

    Our new friends caught up with up and invited us to dinner. Turn out Thang and his wife are school teachers in the village we were headed through. His wife is carrying their one year old daughter. Wonderful people
    45555-91764cdd86522a58654d8e5aecdad808.

    45556-19c3a5b3ce2552f58191b5e910fe319f.
     
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  7. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Day two cont...

    We followed the Namtha river south down to the Nam Xe river and hung a left east. The bridge I made a waypoint at had washed away. Center of the pictured below.

    45533-91cbcada12eb23584731c5ea634abbe4.

    When we arrive no one was around just two scooter parked. I walked the water crossing to see if it was doable but the bottom was litter with large slimy boulders. Not a good idea... Shortly after swamping my boots the owners of the canon showed up.
    45534-eb10f396ba0624d8615c500606e1eaa8.

    The negotiation... We actually paid them to come back later that night 9pm just in case the trail was impassable.
    45535-0b7c7b161f35f683b8104068f763e818.

    45536-3c95bc725fd88874fbedc62915019c7b.

    The big red fat girl was first to cross... They came very close to sinking several time on the way over to the other bank. I have a video... the video is funny to me because my buddy is a little pissed at me for splashing him with mud a few KM's back... It was an accident I swear smile.png
    45537-059106bccfa4326d40a905a37876d964.


    45538-3cad10735d189e6947d36951ae3c0387.

    45539-6ce8acd50facfcc42304c851779e4b16.

    This guy here with his daughter actually spoke pretty good English. He asked me to take a photo with his daughter.
    45540-7808e6b1fc0b0d20d8cd02a170cadedb.

    Some action shots... The big man handled the Rally like an old pro...
    45541-9897ab57415568accb8c9cfa416b1f47.

    45542-69cb6f81db59c3280118c30dc9a54784.

    45543-89529bedd42b144aaaa398f0de7ac2cb.
    45544-574dc941803e8e753625f9fbce41e5ed.

    Checking the route
    45545-e41ea63dd25aebdaf63b67c6985fb8d2.

    I was amazed by the beauty and the amount of awesome trails. Loving Laos
    45546-8af846fbea8bddf8a9bf8ba633dbafc7.

    45547-e3d6f256f44ddca179627141d2508776.

    45548-5a5ab55610dc57a29f09f17c09bd6360.

    45549-f826de59d7b96e085f2844d6cde425fd.

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    I think I could live here... Trails are everywhere...
    45551-1543ecc37ea732b5a9294e13ee3770df.

    45552-887929c0e70db83704b6c876a27cfe07.

    Primary transportation... Flip flops with a bag wrapped around their head. smile.png Very stout people.
    45553-39b96a32837e45e0de856e9baebff1a5.

    45554-f2a30b2ed23c36adfd773fcfce822c1d.

    Our new friends caught up with up and invited us to dinner. Turn out Thang and his wife are school teachers in the village we were headed through. His wife is carrying their one year old daughter. Wonderful people
    45555-91764cdd86522a58654d8e5aecdad808.

    45556-19c3a5b3ce2552f58191b5e910fe319f.
     
  8. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Day two cont...

    We followed the Namtha river south down to the Nam Xe river and hung a left east. The bridge I made a waypoint at had washed away. Center of the pictured below.

    45533-91cbcada12eb23584731c5ea634abbe4.

    When we arrive no one was around just two scooter parked. I walked the water crossing to see if it was doable but the bottom was litter with large slimy boulders. Not a good idea... Shortly after swamping my boots the owners of the canon showed up.
    45534-eb10f396ba0624d8615c500606e1eaa8.

    The negotiation... We actually paid them to come back later that night 9pm just in case the trail was impassable.
    45535-0b7c7b161f35f683b8104068f763e818.

    45536-3c95bc725fd88874fbedc62915019c7b.

    The big red fat girl was first to cross... They came very close to sinking several time on the way over to the other bank. I have a video... the video is funny to me because my buddy is a little pissed at me for splashing him with mud a few KM's back... It was an accident I swear smile.png
    45537-059106bccfa4326d40a905a37876d964.


    45538-3cad10735d189e6947d36951ae3c0387.

    45539-6ce8acd50facfcc42304c851779e4b16.

    This guy here with his daughter actually spoke pretty good English. He asked me to take a photo with his daughter.
    45540-7808e6b1fc0b0d20d8cd02a170cadedb.

    Some action shots... The big man handled the Rally like an old pro...
    45541-9897ab57415568accb8c9cfa416b1f47.

    45542-69cb6f81db59c3280118c30dc9a54784.

    45543-89529bedd42b144aaaa398f0de7ac2cb.
    45544-574dc941803e8e753625f9fbce41e5ed.

    Checking the route
    45545-e41ea63dd25aebdaf63b67c6985fb8d2.

    I was amazed by the beauty and the amount of awesome trails. Loving Laos
    45546-8af846fbea8bddf8a9bf8ba633dbafc7.

    45547-e3d6f256f44ddca179627141d2508776.

    45548-5a5ab55610dc57a29f09f17c09bd6360.

    45549-f826de59d7b96e085f2844d6cde425fd.

    45550-190cae34b14c1af3f9599d870aae2632.


    I think I could live here... Trails are everywhere...
    45551-1543ecc37ea732b5a9294e13ee3770df.

    45552-887929c0e70db83704b6c876a27cfe07.

    Primary transportation... Flip flops with a bag wrapped around their head. smile.png Very stout people.
    45553-39b96a32837e45e0de856e9baebff1a5.

    45554-f2a30b2ed23c36adfd773fcfce822c1d.

    Our new friends caught up with up and invited us to dinner. Turn out Thang and his wife are school teachers in the village we were headed through. His wife is carrying their one year old daughter. Wonderful people
    45555-91764cdd86522a58654d8e5aecdad808.

    45556-19c3a5b3ce2552f58191b5e910fe319f.
     
  9. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Day 2 cont... "Sleeping in the jungle village"

    20min later we pulled into Thang's village (center of map). I believe the name of the village is Wan Vang... I sure that is not a proper translation.

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    First of the welcoming committee
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    Everyone was very interested in the Farang buying beer. I would learn later from Thang the village has not seen another white face in over five years. Last time was when the school was opened. First time seeing big bike ride thru
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    By the time we pulled in to the village it was almost 7pm so we decided to stay the night. After dinner we sat down and a few beers and laughs. Wish we would have gotten a picture when the whole family showed up. Probably 10-12 adults and 10 children. Great evening...
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    This is when Thang was telling me they were harvesting in the morning and we should continue are drinking in the morning "about 8:30pm". Little early for me so I built a fire outside and had one more beer. Building the fire ended up worked out later because my buddy snores like an angry bear and I ended up sleeping outside beside it. Whole other story to go with that...
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    Mr. Fancy pants... probably the only one who slept in the entire village that night smile.png
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  10. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Day three...

    The night sleeping next to the campfire under a sky full of stars was great. However I was woken up several times by villagers shining their flashlight in my face checking on me. A couple of the dogs didn’t like me sleeping outside as well. I’m in early riser so I was up about 4 AM. All the women in the village were up at this time doing chores washing dishes and feeding animals. I stoked the fire and boiled some water for my morning coffee. Thang's wife use the fire to heat the morning rice. Slowly them villagers came and sat around the fire with me. From what I could make out the little old lady was telling everyone how I slept next to the fire. They all had a big laugh. It was really a great experience.

    45702-08adc6d678978ceb694a9a599047c254.
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    Thang's daughter was puzzled by the strange looking man at her house.
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    This was the view from Thangs kitchen...
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    Thang told me they use no chemical on their crops. Organic food farm to plate. He and his wife have been teaching in their village for over five years without pay from the government. Both are exceptional people.
    45712-16c4b8a74f0a98133452accf8d1ad617.

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    Thang has been building his house for a couple year. He told me at breakfast he carted all the brick 40km with his little trailer tractor setup.
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    The guys waiting for me while I was looking for my shoes... Only found one so left it behind.
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    Fun little water crossing not too deep but was running swiftly
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    Back to Namtha night market for dinner
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  11. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Final Day..

    I woke early and decided to going out for a quick ride by myself while everyone else was sleeping. I tried a couple single tracks north of Namtha off the 17A. Only to be chased off by a couple jungle lady's that were walking out to the roadside to sell their rubber sap. That stuff thinks like something died. I think they thought it was either too difficult or may have been a one-way track to their house. Too bad it looked like a killer single track.

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    Little ways down the road I found a cable bridge with what looked like another nice single track on the other side. There was a gate at the entrance of the bridge with no lock so I went ahead and crossed to check out the trail. First time across a jungle cable bridge for me. Trickier than it looks smile.png Thought I was just going to standup and just wheelie across but the bridge started to rock and swaying.
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    Once across and up the single track I realized I was out of time had to be back by 8am. Only 20 minutes to make it back to the hotel. So I turned around and high tailed it back.

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    Going back across the bridge to the main road
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    It was a little precarious walking around the bike on the bridge to take this photo...
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    To be continued...
     
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  12. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Continued...

    We meet up with some other riders for the states and had breakfast. Great bunch of guys
    45757-48c50efd3cd283bef0273726b9daa767.

    45758-7a110ea3bda0003b72abdd336a338024.

    Did a quick inspection of their bike a found one to be missing half the teeth on the counter sprocket and the rear did not look much better. They rented the bikes locally and tried to get them replaced but were told it would be several days before a new one could be delivered...
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    Bike loaded up and ready for a long day of riding. The plan was to take the 17A north to Muang Sing and then west on the 17B to Xieng Kok. To try to catch a boat down the Mekong. Just too late in the day by the time we got to Muang Sing to go try to catch a boat. Problem was I need to catch a flight back to work in less than 48 hours.

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    Could not figure what this was about. Kind of look like some sort of large water canal. It was in the middle of nowhere on the 17A
    45761-d1081493760b1381bdd6ba6961907d59.

    45762-df64046d6e07c423b574c6f4bac1783c.


    Random village
    45763-eda612583b189e9974d69333f57ab22f.

    We took a left toward the north at Sop Oe and followed a small canal. This road was actually straight but the pantographic mode on my phone made it look like a turn.
    45764-a881ab667a1442892bcba49395007e40.


    Muang Sing dusty quite town.
    45765-38c3ce94249ffcd69e41e9de2d1030d5.

    Found a nice place to eat. Nice Chinese food.
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    45767-b52c0e493e2d91dac7af48dcec334867.

    45768-325ce125e09354f8fcc01bccd0e186a8.

    From Muang Sing we rode straight through all the way to the boarder in Chiang Kong. Seen this wrecked truck on the way to Namtha. Pretty sure this guy did not make it.
    45769-d63ba1bf136d5cba9b8696f84b276ccb.

    45770-76a2a124b03cc67169c25e85f9fc49d7.

    45771-f72761c214b676c3b94a3c81888ac1a4.

    Back on the Thai side of the Mekong river. The crossing from Laos to Thailand was much faster... We ended up pulling back into Chiang Mai around midnight.
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    45773-312f5fff3902f16a2f0b7e2baa26b5d7.


    5 days Three nights was not nearly enough time but what an adventure. I'd do it again tomorrow.


    See ya
    Jim
     
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  13. ZCM

    ZCM Ol'Timer

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    Fantastic trip report. I would love to try off-road in Laos. I have only done road trips there so far (2 trips).
    Really love the rural village photos.
    The suspension bridge is something I have never tackled and not yet sure if i ever will...!
    Amazing.

    I also did the run from CM straight to Luang Namtha..and as luck would have it my bike started leaking fuel on route lol.
    I was solo on that particular ride, so it was a real Murphy's Law moment.
    I never have this kind of issue on my bike, but had to happen as soon as i cross over into Laos alone!

    I actually have a photo of me sitting in that exact wrecked truck btw..lol.

    23509252_1439898636058317_5621692715934730039_o.
    ?type=3&theater
     
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  14. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

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    Sleeping in the jungle village would have been a great experience. The small villages is what makes Laos a great place to ride and explore.
    Great write up mate.

    45703-99ae288a2bd692b3fc5350573e7cac81-.

    Moto-Rex
     
  15. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Thanks Motogirl...

    You definetly need to mix in some off road sections while traveling through Laos. Might not be wise to solo ride the first time though :)

    Funny I was going to climb up on the wreck truck too.
     
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  16. Endojim

    Endojim Active Member

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    Thanks Moto-Rex,

    The night in the jungle villiage was definetly the highlight of our trip. The kindness and generosity of Thang and his family was amazing. Can't wait to go back and visit Thang agian.

    Jim
     

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