Friday, March 27, 2009


Kuala Lumpur  - Bangkok
Departure: 8th May 2015h (GMT +8)
Arrival: 8th May 2125h (GMT +7)
Length of flight: 2h 10m
Airline: Thai Airways

Bangkok - Nairobi 

Departure: 9th May 0035h (GMT +7)
Arrival: 9th May 0605h (GMT +3)
Length of flight: 9h 30m
Airline: Kenya Airways

Nairobi - Yaoundé

Departure: 9th May 1915h (GMT +7)
Arrival: 9th May 2120h (GMT +1)
Length of flight: 4h 5m 
Airline: Kenya Airways 

And after 3 months...
Yaoundé - Nairobi
Departure: 27th Jul 2210h 
Arrival: 28th Jul 0610h
Length of flight: 6 hours

Nairobi - Bangkok

Departure: 1st Aug 2310h <<-- I am having a 5-day stopover in Kenya!
Arrival: 2nd Aug 1250h
Length of flight: 9h 40m

Bangkok - Kuala Lumpur

Departure: 2nd Aug 1600h
Arrival: 2nd Aug 1910h
Length of flight: 2h 10m

I am flying across so many timezones.

Somehow mathematics won't work out when you are calculating time across so many timezones.

Excited all over again!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

My fear and my excitement

I bumped into my Martinique friend in NTU yesterday. He asked me about where my Cameroon trip. I told him. He commented, 'You don't look too excited about it.'

He was right. I was pretty much burnt out these days by all the logistical procedures, and getting pretty worried about so many things - vaccinations, safety, money, flight, visa, accommodation, food, water, electricity, language, communication with family etc. Probably these have consumed up all my enthusiasm for it. The information about Cameroon on internet is far and few, probably because I don't know the right French search words for it. Sometimes these information can be overly negative - and that affects me too. I don't know what other vaccination to take, how much I should bring there, what should I bring there, what should I wear, how should I handle my commitment here etc etc etc. Trust me, if you are too cautious, the logistics can burn you into ashes.

On the same day, due to a spontaneous sms, I decided to meet up with Rina. I went packed with questions to ask her.

But somehow when I saw her, every question needs no answer anymore. The questions no longer seem to matter, the questions no longer feel important anymore. Somehow, a new attitude befell on me - Come what may. I will take care of the essentials, and everything else shall take care of itself. Somehow, the internship doesn't seem to intimidate anymore. And I am again, flooded with excitement and interest - to the point I wish I was there in the next minute.

I have come to realise that preparation for the internship is indeed one whole learning experience on its own. I have already started learning about cross-cultural difference, about international travelling, and most importantly, I have discovered what I am fearful about, and I have experienced generating courage from within.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Finally.. visa!

There is finally a streak of light that entered my visa search. My internship manager Guy helped me to ask his previous intern on the visa application process. And the intern shared that he/she applied through the Cameroon Consulate in Sydney. And so I called, and I got through, and it is a viable way for me to apply my visa!!!

Phew, finally visa on the way!

The Consulate of the Republic of Cameroon, Sydney

  • A 90 day single/multuple entry visa is available from here.
  • The visa fee is CFA 50,000, or USD 118, or AUD 124, payable online, by cheque, or money order.
  • You need to pay for return postage fee.
The consulate Max is a really nice and helpful guy! Cameroon must be so proud to have such a good representative here!


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Sunday, March 22, 2009

I have had wings.. virtually

Yesterday thanks to a friend who was an hour late from a meeting, I read the World Development Report to kill time. There were a lot of tables at the back of the report showing statistics from different countries. Curiosity driven, I started looking at the names of the countries in the world. And I realised there're so many countries which I have not heard of! I started googling on them, and discovered yet so many interesting spots in the world! Surprisingly, many of these countries are just among the countries which I am familiar with. Well, these are my target visit places in the future, more than those familiar ones around. :)

Isle of Man
An island in between Ireland island and England island. It boasts of relaxed pace of life, and is famous for motorsport events, world's largest water wheel, fields full of rare orchids and seas rich with wrecks.
Slogan: Many worlds, One island.
Tourism websites: or

Picture from 

Picture from 

The second smallest country in Europe after Vatican City, tucked just below France. It has no navy or air force, but its police force on per capita basis is the highest in the world - 515 police for 32,000 people! Monaco is well known to be a tax haven, and 84% of its population are wealthy foreigners! Oh have I mentioned that you only take 56 minutes to walk from end to end of the country?
Official tourism site:

Picture from

Picture from

A landlocked country in between Spain and France on the Pyrenees mountains. Tourism accounts for 80% of its GDP due to snow-capped mountains for skiing and it being a tax-free haven. The life expectancy here is the highest in the world at 83 years old! The country has 71,000 people in the 468 square km land.
Sadly, there isn't an official website for Andorra. I recommend the site by Lonely Planet.

Picture from

Picture from 

Antigua & Barbuda
A country spread across a few islands in Caribbean Sea in the big lagoon between North and South America. The two main islands are called Antigua and Barbuda, in which the former is the more main island. The main language is English, for the 68,000 inhabitants, of whom comprise of West African, British and Portugese.
Tourism slogan: The beach is just the beginning.
Official tourism website:

Picture courtesy of

Picture  from

An island country in the heart of Southearn Caribbean, just above Venezuela. It has 90,000 inhabitants in the 193 square km island. Their official language is Dutch due to previous colonization by the Netherlands.
Tourism slogan: 90,000 friends you haven't met yet.
Official tourism website:

Picture from 

Picture from 

The Bahamas
An archipelago of 700 islands off the coast of Florida. The Bahamas has the clearest water in the world - with a visibility of 200 feet. It is a place where you can't tell where dream begins and reality ends, with rich European influence yet a population of mostly West Africans.
Official tourism website:

Picture from


Picture from

Labelled by Lonely Planet as one of the most secretive countries in Africa, due to it being at odds with Ethiopia. Yet, it has a lot to offer - the least known and spoilt reefs in the Red Sea on its Red Sea coast, a wasteland that has desolate magnetism, and a capital that is like a film set from an early Italian movie, with vintage Italian coffee machines and outstanding Art-Deco architecture.

Picture from

Picture from

This little tour around the unknown world just opens me up to more and more diversity in the world. They are so beautiful, and now I understand why SY said he lives so that one day he can travel. I want to see these places with my own eyes, feel them own senses, touch them with my own heart. One day I will.

Suddenly there is a thought that popped up. I am sure my country has a lot more beautiful places which I want to go too! Since I am financially constrained for the moment, why not I travel to see these places first? Good idea. Way to go!


Mount Kota Kinabalu

Lake Kenyir

Gua Niah, Sarawak


Sepilok, Sabah

Endau Rompin, Johor

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sleeping before 12am for Wan Xin?

I signed up for a sleeping experiment. I was being called up today to participate in the experiment, and the researcher briefed me on the participation details. There is one big rule in the entire experiment:

I need to sleep before 12am and wake up before 9am everyday for 2 weeks.

When I shared this with my friends, everyone asked, no they didn't ask. They declared that I will fail this experiment. They said that even if I can achieve that for one time, I will definitely not able to maintain that for half a month. They said I should let my roommate wear the actiwatch (sleep monitor) because she is the person who can be more trusted to sleep at the hours mentioned than I am.

I guess they are probably right using my past records. But let's see if I can break away from my past, and use this opportunity to establish what traditionally is good sleeping habit.

Anyway, it's almost 6am now.

For people interested in participating in the study, you may visit the site. You get to have free MRI scans on your brain!

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jabs ah...
More jabs.

Today I finally went for my date at Travellers' Clinic in NUH to take more vaccinations. For the good $50 consultation, the doctor very kindly freaked me out with all the details of how to take care of myself. Initially I was just listening carefully, but when the information proved to be too much for the short-term memory, I had to quickly scribbled down all the advice for the various diseases, and they very quickly filled up my paper.

And then, jabs again. Today, it's diphhteria-tetanus and yellow fever. I got a yellow vaccination booklet as my vaccination certificate.

My yellow booklet - nicely in English and French.

A sneak into some of my vaccination progress.

To share some of the health information:

Hepatitis A

- Eat only well-cooked meat
- No raw vegetable should be consumed
- Peel your fruits, not just washed it under water
- Ensure good hand hygiene. Carry a small hand sanitizer around.
- Vaccination: 2 jabs with 6 - 12 months in between and can protect up to 30 years. Cost: SGD129 before GST.


- A virus transmitted by saliva (and only saliva) of mammals (and only mammals, not birds or snakes)
- There is no obvious sign is the mammal is rabid.
- Once the virus reaches the nervous system, the attack is FATAL.
- Vaccination: 3 jabs to be completed within 21 days. Cost: SGD157 per jab!
- Currently there is a worldwide shortage of rabies vaccines, so you can't even have it even if you have the money to pay for it!
- If not vaccinated, and if wounds were in contact with mammals' saliva, wash wound with water and any disinfectant - soap, iodine. Scrub out all the grime and let the wound bleed to wash out the virus. Within 48h, go to any hospital to inject antibody into the wound. Then, take another 4 injections. Check if insurance covers flight to reliable hospitals.

Yellow Fever

- A mosquito-borne disease
- Attacks the liver and also other organs such as brain and the kidneys.
- 30% mortality rate without vaccines.
- Vaccination: 1 vaccination of live virus, available only upon prescription by doctors. Cost: SGD110.


- The malaria-carrying mosquitoes bite most frequently at dawn, dusk and night.
- Apply mosquito-repellent that contains at least 30-40% DEET all day long to all exposed body parts (including under feet). Reapply every 4 hours.
- Wear long sleeves and pants if going out at night.
- Sleep under mosquito net.
- For people without history of depression, anxiety or other psychotic disorder, mefluoquin is recommended.
- Take once a week. Start taking mefluoquin 3 weeks before departure (for me, that's mid April) to build up the antibodies and continue 4 weeks after coming back to wash out all virus.
- Some side effects at the beginning: Nausea, headache, vivid dreams.

Travellers' diarrhea

- Caused by bacteria
- Can be cured by just keeping yourself hydrated.
- Bring along oral rehydration sachets.
- Can stop it using any anti-diarrhea pills, but if you are having fever or blood in your faeces, or if the diarrhea doesn't stop after 3-4 days, take antibiotics.

Next up: 

  • X-ray tomorrow
  • Next Monday: Hepatitis A injection.
Shopping list for things to be put into my luggage bag:
  • Mosquito repellant with 30% DEET.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Stop-It
  • Oral rehydration sachets
  • Antibiotics
I was getting a little scared when the doctor was giving me all the advice. I was suddenly awaken to the reality of the enormity of preparation needed beforehand and protection needed on-site. But at the same time I started to wonder: Do the locals there do these preparation too? If not, why are they still alive?

A world of uncertainty.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Self-reflection session

As preparation for my Member Committee interview, I spent some time doing self-reflection to better understand myself and ascertain my identity. I took out my organiser and started jotting down everything that comes to my mind about myself.
  • Treasure experience. Life is but a fusion of experience.
  • I don't choose the easy path.
  • Goals and results matter to me because it sets a game for me to play. Without goals and results, there is no experience created.
  • In terms of Big Five personality: I am highly open, moderately low conscientiousness, moderately high extraversion, moderate agreeableness and high neuroticism.
  • I not necessarily need to agree with others
  • Love? I think I yearn to be loved.
  • I love clouds and any natural phenomena. May be that's cuz I love beauty.
  • I am slightly egoistic and proud.
  • I am easily scared - by sudden appearance of people, insects, a lot of things. May be that's me being socially desirable?
  • Not being able to put others' needs before mine (spoiled, self-centred)
  • Go too much with the flow of my mind (random)
  • Bad decision making skills
  • Need to respect the person before taking in the person's opinion (else it'll just be active listening)
  • See things from different perspectives
  • Effective communication
  • Intuitive (able to see links between ideas)
  • Excel in the things that I am committed to (band, pi-pa, camera sales etc)
  • Maintain a good EB team with no dropouts
  • Enter my uni of choice
  • Get VP position of choice
  • Being a role model for people?
  • Personal connection to members
Way of life: 
  • Learning - curiosity in everything
  • Focus on the moment, focus on feelings, on the drive
  • Think very hard and very much
  • See general patterns of life
My self picture:
I am a forest. Very complicated, a lot of twists and turns, a lot of digging to do. What you see may not be the full content. I have a lot of sides. While I am comfortable with my multi-facet-ness, others may not be. I am very sensitive but only to certain things. My emotions are very easily evoked by things around. My emotions are very versatile and intense - it swings to different sides very quickly, and when it swings, it normally goes to the extreme.

- The End for the moment - 

Anyway I finally repaired my camera! After 8 months of procrastination! See the wall of my room! So pretty!

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Monday, March 16, 2009


When what usually sustains you ceases to sustain you any further, you suddenly experience a new-found emptiness. A vacuum within you that is alive and loud day to day, moment to moment, screaming to you, 'What should I do next?' 'What fulfills me?'

It is not as if you have nothing to do, but those are the mundane daily jobs that you know you ought to do, but not things that you want to do for its own sake.

You pass the days by answering to the mundane tasks, by frantically trying any means to make yourself fulfilled. But whatever you have done, they somehow are not capable of making you a tiny wheeny more composed. You have lost the vibe, you have lost the impulsiveness to dive straight into the next tasks, and the next. You don't mind letting time pass unproductively, you don't mind missing one appointment after another. You don't mind having your life commitment jeopardise. Those don't really matter to you, anyway. You are afraid to sleep at night, because the moment you close your eyes, you know you have wasted yet another day.

You still want to find the vibe in life, but somehow it is nowhere to be found in your life. You look at others, envying their energy, envying their drive in life, wishing you can be a little more upbeat. But you just can't, you just can't move towards the next step.

You still breathe, you still survive, but till you find the new sustaining source, you are less, than alive.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ouch! Jabs

I consulted NTU medical centre for the recommended vaccinations to take for my Cameroon trip today.

First the staff at registration counter stunned upon hearing my medical check purpose. Upon seeing the doctor, he frowned after knowing the same truth. He sighed, 'Why did you choose to go Africa?'


Then he opened his database to search for the medical advice. 'Look at the length of the list.' Said Dr Ngui, while maintaining his frown. After a long awkward silence, he started copying down all the vaccinations I needed. I think that filled up my little yellow prescription paper.

Then I went to the nurses for my jabs. The nurse frowned again. *lolz* She got me to pay first, and it was an exorbitant S$139.10! And that is only for medical check up fee, tuberculosis X-ray, typhoid, meningitis, and Hepatitis A and B screening. Yellow fever is going to be $110 before taxes, and rabies is $157 before taxes too. Medicines are a hidden cost in this internship preparation, iseneh..

My skin is holed 3 times today: on the inner side of my right elbow, and one each on my arm. I am still very much afraid of jabs, and it still hurts till now when I am typing it. The nurses warned that I may have fever tomorrow as my body reacts to the vaccines. Come what may..

What's next: I yet to call up NUH or TTSH to arrange for my yellow fever and rabies vaccination, as well as do my X-ray in Jurong Medical Centre, plus collect my hep A and B result. *finger crossed*

To share some of my intensive research, here are some helpful vaccination guides:
World Health Organization
Singapore Health Promotion Board - though I am disappointed that it does not contain Cameroon information.
By the way, Yellow Fever is a must have for Cameroon and many African countries. You need to show your yellow fever vaccination to get your visa!

For your information, my doctor brother and my search in Malaysia didn't return us with any positive result for clinics or hospitals that provide these vaccinations. The only two hospitals in Singapore that have travellers' clinic are as below:
National University of Singapore - Travellers' Clinic
Tan Tock Seng Hospital - Travellers' Clinic


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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Route to Getting a Cameroon Visa

4th Mar - I called up Cameroon Embassy in China who told me the phone in the visa department has broken down.

10th Mar 
I called them up again. This time, the receptionist said the visa department has cancelled the phone service. Means I cannot get connected to them! The receptionist also refused to get the visa department person to move physically to speak to me on this phone! Also, I sent them an email on 4th Mar which no one replied.

Trial 1 - Frustrated

I got Yunli in Beijing to help me call. Perhaps her sweet voice will move the receptionist. She called. And the receptionist did give her more details. Bad news though. That eventually I need to go there in person to sign the application! :S Yunli said she can help me to pay a physical visit to the embassy on Friday to get full information.

Trial 2 - Exasperated

I checked on Yellow Pages for travel agencies directory. I called up all 8 listed which provide tour services to Africa. None provides visa services. And they said that if there is no Cameroon embassy in Singapore, there's no visa application services. Thanks for that.

Oh at the same time I enquired for flight ticket. Chan Brothers actually offer a ticket that is 20 dollar cheaper!*big deal*

Trial 3 - Desperate!

I called up the Cameroon Consulate in Singapore again. I asked the lady for help again. She tried to scold me initially that I did not call the Beijing embassy back; that I did not ask the visa department people to come out to receive calls at working phone; that I did not ask for alternative contact method. After I gently and sadly informed her that I have done all those, she was held back for awhile. Probably realising that she is the last resource who can help me, she decided to suggest that she will ask her colleagues and get back to me. And she promised she will call me back today if not latest tomorrow. Sounds like a determined promise.

The journey to the big unknown land did prove to be like a multiple-obstacle race. Will I accomplish it?

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Friday, March 06, 2009

I dreamt about Cameroon

Some of you probably already know that I am going to Cameroon for an AIESEC Internship from May to July. For those whom you don't know, yeah now you do! It's CamerOOn yeah, not Cameron, not in Malaysia, but it's in Central West Africa! I'll be working in Yaoundé the capital of Cameroon - a French speaking city to help youths in setting up their business.

Yesterday Rach gave me a Cameroon guidebook. I read it before I fell asleep and I actually dreamt about it. I dreamt that I went there with only 200USD, without traditional costume, and only 2 random notes!

For those of you who are wondering about what is random notes? Please read my facebook note!

I was supposed to stay in an AIESECer's house, and their parents actually came to airport to pick me up. The parents are really nice. They told me and their child that when they are away, we can have a party on our own, dress up, and drink Shandy.

Other things in my dream:

  1. There was only dial-up internet and I really felt bad using it.
  2. I was chased by dogs when I was walking back to home after internship.
  3. My internship ends promptly at 3pm everyday and I could take a stroll around the town after that.
Interesting dream..

Tracking of my internship progress
17 Feb - I received verbal offer from my TN manager - the AIESECer who manages the internship account in Cameroon. He is called Guy Tabue.
22 Feb - I received my official internship offer!
23 Feb - I received my reception booklet, which includes introduction to Cameroon and expectation setting form. I emailed National University Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital travel clinics to enquire about vaccination. Also, I talked on msn for the first time with a Cameroonian. He's the MCP, which means the President of AIESEC Cameroon.
24 Feb - I met Guy online for the first time. Accidentally at Gtalk at 4am.
25 Feb - Guy sent me 4 pictures of him.
2 Mar - I arranged my vaccination appointment with NUH.
3 Mar - I tried to book my tickets online with Kenya Airways.
4 Mar - I called up Cameroon Consulate in Singapore to enquire about visa application. They told me they are just a consulate and they do not handle visa application, which should go to their Beijing embassy! *exclamation* So I called up the Beijing one, and the receptionist told me the phone at visa department broke down! *double exclamation* They asked me to fax in inquiry, but I asked for email. They gave me, hopefully the embassy reads it. Till now I have not received reply. :S
Today I also sent my expectation setting back to MCVP ICX and Guy.
5 Mar - I called up the representative office of Kenya Airways in Singapore, got a cheaper quotation which I can actually fly from Singapore. A gasping SGD2410 for return ticket.
Also, Rach gave me the Cameroon travel booklet!
6 Mar - I dreamt about Cameroon.


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Thursday, March 05, 2009






上山果然考功夫。我们背着背包,一直往很陡的坡爬着,没有现成的路,都是泥和草丛和树根。有时手脚并用,手按着泥抓着草扶着树干树根当支点,有时还要在悬崖的边边踩着不知道会不会断的树根。我对自己的速度没信心,跑到了前面加入豆腐组合。我一爬了几步就喘了,看着那么高的山,我真的不知道自己要从哪里拿力气来爬上去。但我不能停呀,我一停大家也会被拖累的。所以我逼着自己,用前一步的力气推动自己走向下一步。真的不行时再休息几秒,然后快步往前移动。就这样,两个小时后,我们也终于上到了base camp。




搭了帐篷之后,大家就如小学作文所写的:迫不及待地投入瀑布的怀抱里。瀑布好冷啊!但也立刻把所有的疲惫都洗掉了。Base Camp隔壁的瀑布是Stong瀑布的其中一截。大概二十米高,瀑布水宽十几米,谁是那样哗啦哗啦冲下来的。Munir说,这是一个天然的石头滑梯,是整个Stong之旅的精髓。我们会从瀑布的一半之处开始滑下来。我们一看,都震到了。那石头是陡的,不用滑都可以想象滑下来的速度有多快。但也许是爬山爬来的勇气给我的力量吧,第二天玩滑梯的时候,我居然上了。要滑下去的时候超怕,但滑下去之后居然又上去多滑一次,之后还去跳石头。

跳石头又是另一大挑战 -- 对于一个没有跳过水的人来说。我在上面挣扎了好久,怕跳不远撞到脚下的这块大石。但最后又跳下去了。水冲进鼻子冲上了脑,但我发现,小小的不舒适,没什么大不了,没有必要因为怕这些而不做一些事情。














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Monday, March 02, 2009

Weird Students

Today 10.25am an NTU lecturer was stabbed by a student who then committed suicide. It appeared on ChannelNewsAsia headline saying 'one injured one dead in NTU stabbing'.

The weird thing is, when students read the news, everyone was laughing and feeling excited and taking pictures of the TV screen. When I went back to my Psy lab, more people started discussing about it, with lots of laughter and jokes about the event.

I don't understand, don't they feel shocked about the stabbing? Don't they feel concerned about the students' behaviour? Why instead of words of concerns, what I hear, from girls, from guys, from Chinese, from Caucasians, are all smiles?

I almost thought it was a joke.

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10 random things about my Stong trip

Before the pictures are up and before the formal story telling, here are some random quick things about my out-of-the-world Stong trip!

1. This is the first trip for me to camp under the stars, trekked up with full load, bathed and cleansed at waterfall, and did business in the wild. 

2. I feel glad that I had the courage to take the 10m stone slide and the jump off cliff.

3. I discovered the unfamiliar side of me who is under physical stress and fatigue. 

4. I drank waterfall water for 1 whole day.

5. One thing I changed after coming back from Stong - I have no qualms about bathing in cold water anymore. 

6. Everytime I close my eyes, I see the excessively starry night I had on top of Stong. 

7. I lost all my self-efficacy at one point of time while we were descending from base camp. 

8. I discovered the beast potential in me - to move myself effectively on four. 

9. I learnt even more on how to respect the nature - no litter, even less chemical litter such as shampoo. 

10. One creative thing I did after the trip: My soaked clothes were excessively dirty and smelly to the point of me not knowing what to do about it. So I put it at the hanging lines outside my room to sun and rain it for 2 days to get rid of the smell and dirt before putting them into the washing machine. They all smell and look ok now!

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~ wan xin
* a feel
* a soul
* a mind
* an emotion
* an inspiration

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