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Places to Stay in Port Vila, Vanuatu
Posted 19 May 2016

In our last piece from our trip to Vanuatu, we give you an insight into the accommodation that we were treated to. No doubt – they were all amazing and something we would have no qualms about returning to.

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Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa

Grand Hotel and Casino

Port Vila has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all travellers and budgets. Of our six-night stay in Port Vila, the first two were spent at the lavish Grand Hotel and Casino. The hotel is hard to miss with its towering structure overlooking magnificent views of Port Vila Harbour. A glass of wine watching the sunset from our high- rise patio was the perfect way to relax after a long day of adventure.

Grand
Grand Hotel & Casino, Vanuatu

The service was most commendable along with a great range of breakfast and dinner options. The famous Vanuatu beef is a must try as the chefs grill it to absolute perfection. It will definitely challenge all your ‘best steak’ experiences. The location, class and elegance of this hotel make it a fantastic accommodation option.

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Grand Hotel & Casino, Vanuatu

Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa

Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa is only a ten minute drive from Port Vila’s main town centre. If resort style accommodation is more your preference then this would be the perfect choice, especially for families and couples. The views out to Erakor Lagoon are breathtaking. They have a wide range of kids and adult activities so there is always something exciting to do.

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Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa

Our stand alone bungalow accommodation was perfect and a welcome change from our usual room accommodation. The local band that played during the Saturday night buffet dinner was understated and truly deserving of celebrity status. The perfect way to spend our last evening in Port Vila.

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Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace is truly a unique place to stay. It is the newest accommodation provider in Port Vila. It opened in early March this year with an enthusiastic team that were welcoming and keen to ensure our stay was comfortable. The hotel is small but is located prominently on the foreshore overlooking Mele Bay which gives guests in ocean view rooms, a magnificent view.

There is a restaurant in the hotel that serves authentic Chinese cuisine. However, other food options are conveniently only a short distance walk from the hotel. Although it has only come from small beginnings, Crystal Palace is sure to attract its own clientele and flourish.

In the words of our Vanuatu hosts, “Tankyu tumas” (Thank you sincerely) for reliving this journey with us. We hope your stories and experiences of Port Vila will be just as wondrous and memorable as ours!

By Aulden Warbrooke And Jade Lee Continue Reading
Tagged: Resorts, Leisure, Relaxation
The Best Spots for Snorkelling & Diving In Fiji
Posted 13 May 2016

Fiji is often referred to as the soft coral capital of the world, with over 300 islands surrounded by waters of rich and diverse ecosystems. As a result, Fiji is renowned as one of the best tropical paradises for snorkelling and diving. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy exploring the underwater world, with many novice-friendly locations available, as well as guides to help you feel comfortable.

Turtle Watching
Turtle Watching with Dive Wananavu, Fiji

For the shortlist, here are the best spots for snorkelling or diving in Fiji – some are exclusive to resort guests whilst others are available for daytrippers too.

Dive Wananavu, Wananavu Beach Resort

Mellow Yellow Sight
Mellow Yellow Sight, Dive Wananavu, Fiji

The Bligh Waters make up the stretch of ocean between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu and is home to some of the best diving in Fiji. Dive Wananavu is a 5-star qualified PADI dive facility offering trips for certified divers, as well as courses for certification. Daily trips travel to various sites of rich ecosystems including the well-known sight Mellow Yellow, aptly named for the abundance of blooming yellow soft corals. Divers can expect to see an underwater wonderland thriving with rainbow coral, unique fish, sharks, and turtles nestled in tunnels, canyons, and caves.

Note: The Bligh Waters can be vulnerable to currents and is weather permitting.

Purple Haze
Purple Haze, Dive Wananavu, Fiji

HOW TO GET THERE

Transfers from Nadi International Airport to Wananavu take approximately two-and-a-quarter hours and are included with all-week long scuba diving packages.

South Sea Island, Mamanuca Islands

Snorkeling SSI
Snorkeling @ South Sea Island, Fiji

South Sea Island may be small in size but there is definitely plenty to see and do. Discover the majestic underwater world with hours of snorkelling and diving, and experience drop offs and wall dives with lots of hard corals and large schools of pelagic fish. Certified divers will love the purposefully sunk shipwreck, whereas first timer divers will marvel at the pretty reef formations. The island is also family friendly with a semi-submersible coral viewer for those who are not strong swimmers. Alternatively, spend the day swimming laps around the island and keep your eyes peeled for Nemo.

HOW TO GET THERE

South Sea Cruises travel to the island daily, leaving from Port Denarau on the main island.

Navini Island Resort, Mamanuca Islands

Hawksbill
Hawksbill Turtle @ Navini Island, Fiji

Voted as one of the best snorkelling spots in the Mamanuca Island group, Navini Island Resort is surrounded by a beautiful sanctuary that’s teaming with sea-life. With just 10 bures and no daytrippers allowed, Navini offers unrivalled seclusion for guests who want to explore the unspoiled reef and brilliantly blue waters in peace. This is a safe breeding ground for marine creatures, with regular sightings of Juvenile Hawksbill turtles, lobsters, clams, stingrays and even reef sharks. The water is usually clear with an average visibility of 20m.

Juvenile
Juvenile Hawksbill Turtle, Fiji Islands

HOW TO GET THERE

Guests travel from Nadi International Airport via a private vehicle to the Vuda Marina where a speedboat transfer departs.

Mantaray Island Resort, Yasawa Islands

Swimming With Mantaray
Swimming with Manta Ray @ Mantaray Island Resort, Fiji

The waters in front of Mantaray Island Resort are widely regarded as some of the best for snorkelling and diving in Fiji, with the marine reserve home to flourishing coral and numerous species of fish. Between the months of May and October, guests can experience an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with magnificent Manta Rays in its natural environment. Guests also have the option to dive or gain an SSI open water dive certificate, whereby courses can be completed in 3-4 days. Within minutes of the resort lie 40 amazing dive sites, including night dives, cave dives and shark dives – ideal for skilled and adventure divers.

Manta Ray
Manta Ray @ Manta Ray Island, Fiji

HOW TO GET THERE

Guests can get to Mantaray Island Resort via high-speed ferry from Port Denarau or via seaplane and helicopter transfers.

By Jennifer Liu Continue Reading
Tagged: Activities, Surf and Dive
10 Things to Love About the South Pacific
Posted 10 May 2016

Discovering paradise has never been so easy. I must say, there is nowhere in the world that compares to the South Pacific. What makes it stand out from all other places? What would make you get on a plane and fly hours to islands in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean for a holiday? Let me tell you.

1. Yasawa Islands, Fiji 7. The Blue Lagoon, Port Vila, Vanuatu
2. Swimming with Wales in Vava’u, Tonga 8. Swim with Manta Rays, Manta Ray Island Resort, Fiji
3. Scuba Diving the Great Astrolabe Barrier Reef, Kadavu, Fiji 9. The Blow Holes & the American Wharf, Nuku’alofa, Tonga
4. The Cascades, Port Vila, Vanuatu 10. Adventures in Pacific Harbour, Fiji
5. Sawa-i-Lau Caves, Yasawa Islands, Fiji 11. The People
6. The To Sua Trench, Samoa    

Vavau
'Ene'io Eueiki Island, Vava'u, Tonga

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Nothing screams paradise more than the Yasawa Islands in Fiji. The Yasawa Islands are a haven for beach loving junkies with accommodation options ranging from backpacker homestays and bures (traditional Fijian Villas) in the middle of a Fijian village to private 5 star Vilas nestled away on secluded beaches a stone’s throw away from the clearest ocean water found anywhere in the world.

Yasawa
Yasawa Islands, Fiji

I have chosen to put the entire Yasawa Islands out there as my favorite over any particular island in the Yasawas which can easily fit into a list of places in paradise to visit on their own.

Swimming with Wales in Vava’u, Tonga

Whale Vavau
Humpback Whale, Vava’u, Tonga

Vava’u is often described as the ‘jewel in Tonga’s Crown’ and is every bit what they say it is. It is famous for its beautiful beaches, scuba diving and whale watching/swimming. For transparency sake, I have to admit I have not done this swim yet but I’m told by a friend that it was one of the best experiences in his life – second only to his wedding day. That says a lot! Being able to swim with humpback whales should be on your bucket list. The season is from July to October and Tongan Expeditions and Vavau Villa offer these once in a lifetime experiences (or more if you’re up for the challenge).

Scuba Diving the Great Astrolabe Barrier Reef, Kadavu, Fiji

Kadavu Fiji
Waisalima, Kadavu, Fiji

Not a diver? No worries – snorkeling is also another great way to see the Great Astrolabe reef. It is one of the largest barrier reefs in the world and a world class diving spot. It is a haven for thousands of marine life. Whether you’re a beginner diver or a pro diver, there’s an adventure awaiting everyone in this underwater paradise. Matava Resort in Kadavu offer diving and snorkeling trips out the reef.

The Cascades, Port Vila, Vanuatu

When I think of Vanuatu, thoughts of unspoilt beauty with a hint of adventure and experiences come to mind. A short two and a half hour flight out of Fiji lays what I would rate as one of the best places to visit in the world. If you’re looking for waterfalls, Vanuatu has them all. The best part, it’s only a short drive from the airport. This means you can be in a plane and 15 minutes later – swimming under a waterfall. Now that sounds like paradise.

Mele Cascades
Mele Cascades, Port Vila, Vanuatu

The Cascades in Vanuatu is a series of waterfalls that flow into pools and is a place you can spend hours in. The falls make a great background for any Facebook or Instagram photo to make your friends jealous. Evergreen Vanuatu has daily half day or full day tours to the Cascades. Make sure it’s on your bucket list of places to visit when you’re next in Vanuatu – you won’t be disappointed.

Sawa-i-Lau Caves, Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Sawa Caves
Sawa-i-Lau Caves, Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Also known as the ‘very heart of the Yasawas’ is a magical place that is a must of anyone visiting the Yasawas. Swim the caves as guides take you through the history behind this beautiful part of the islands. The water is also AMAZING and the light that comes through the ceilings of the cave make it a truly magical experience. Some resorts offer tours up to the caves so be sure to get in on the action when you’re there.

The To Sua Trench, Samoa

Samoa is referred to as the treasured islands of the Pacific and is a proud nation built on culture and Christianity which is a strong part of its history that can be seen throughout the island in the magnificently built churches and cathedrals. A drive around Upolu Island that houses Apia, the capital of Samoa, brings you to a number of well-known spots such as Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, Lalomanu Beach and the famed To Sua Ocean Trench.

Sua Ocean
To Sua Ocean Trench, Upolu, Samoa

Samoa Tourism Association describe it as two giant holes joined by a lava tube cave. The water is so clear and it’s an experience like no other to swim in the ocean trench. The climb down the ladder to the platform at the bottom is a bit of a challenge but that all adds to the adventure and fun.

The Blue Lagoon, Port Vila, Vanuatu

A short drive from the city center is the Blue Lagoon. Images don’t do justice to the beauty and uniqueness of this place. From afar it looks like the bluest water you’ll ever see that is so turquoise like that it feels like it’s been photoshopped on. As you move closer and look down, you can see the bottom of the lagoon so clearly. A dive in fast proved that it’s not as shallow as it looked from the top.

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon, Efate, Vanuatu

The best part about the Blue Lagoon and most other of these beautiful places in Vanuatu – it’s not overrun with tourists. There is a perfect balance here and it allows you to truly enjoy the experience and appreciate nature in a way you may never have before.

Swim with Manta Rays, Manta Ray Island Resort, Fiji

Seasonally from May to October, there is a chance of a lifetime to swim or snorkel with Manta Rays in the Yasawa Islands. Definitely an experience not to be missed. Be sure to have your cameras ready because that first sighting can get so exciting that you forget to capture the moment. I should know, I’m the idiot who forgot to take it.

Manta Ray
Manta Ray, Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Manta Ray Island Resort is tucked away in the beautiful Yasawa Islands and is the perfect spot to escape your busy life. Not keen on swimming with the manta rays? No problem, you can unwind on the beach with a tropical cocktail. Now that’s one way to run away from your emails.

The Blow Holes & the American Wharf, Nuku’alofa, Tonga

Childhood memories of me jumping with the boys off what felt like the longest jetty in the world into open seas are what make me think of the American Wharf. It was one of my favorite places to go on an afternoon in Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga. I have gone with two things here because it’s too hard to pick one favorite thing to do in Tonga.

Mapu Tonga
Mapu a Vaea, Nuku’alofa, Tonga

The blow holes are one of those places where you can sit for hours and feel at ease. As waves roll in, water is forced up the volcanic rocks and create a plume-like effect. It is like nature’s own fireworks – or should I say waterworks? Maybe we’ll stick to the traditional name for the blow holes, Mapu a Vaea or ‘Whistle of the Noble’.

Adventures in Pacific Harbour, Fiji

They don’t call it Fiji’s Adventure Capital for no reason. Everything from White water rafting to Jet Ski safaris, shark diving and buggy rides to waterfalls can be done in Pac Harbour as the locals call it. River Fiji’s white water rafting takes you through canyons and past waterfalls on Navua River and is a favorite for many adventure seekers that visit Fiji. Jet Ski safari’s is also a great way to explore the islands around Pacific Harbour with guided tours that include snorkeling trips.

Dune Buggy
Dune Buggy Ride, Pacific Harbour, Fiji

You can also take self-driven dune buggies up the hills in Pacific Harbour with Terra Trek that ends with a hike to a one of the best waterfalls you can find on Viti Levu, Fiji’s biggest Island. Pacific Harbour is also a great place to unwind in the evenings with activities in the different hotels and a number of restaurants and bars in the area.

The People

Smiling Fijian Girl
Smiling Fijian girl

I know I said 10 things to love about the Pacific but without a doubt, there is nowhere else in the world where you can visit four or five different countries and feel like home in all of them. From Fiji to Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa, the people are what I would describe as the drawing factor for the Pacific.

So what are you waiting for?

By Akuila Batiweti Continue Reading
Tagged: Activities, Adventure, Surf and Dive
A Guide To Planning Your First Family Holiday To Fiji
Posted 6 May 2016

Gearing up for your annual family holiday and looking for the best place to go? If relaxing is high on the agenda, then a sojourn to the South Pacific will tick all your boxes. In Fiji, you’ll be greeted with warm smiles, warmer weather and some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. With family-friendly five star resorts, child minding services and exciting activities all within easy access, rest assured your Fiji itinerary will be overloaded with fun for the whole family.

Family Cycling Plantation Island
Family cycling, Plantation Island, Fiji

Here’s a lowdown on all the things to keep in mind when planning your first family holiday to Fiji.

Essential Information

It’s important to tick off all the necessary travel admin before jetting off as a family.

Kids On Fijiairways
Kids on-board Fiji Airways

• Make sure your kids have a passport with more than six month’s validity.
• Look into hotels and resorts that permit children (some are adults-only).
• Check with your doctor about any pre-trip vaccination shots required (especially for younger children)
• Pack all the essentials like nappies, wipes and baby formulas. Whilst you can purchase these in supermarkets and pharmacies in Fiji, it’s best to bring your own supplies as they can be expensive.

Best Resorts For Kids

A family holiday is exactly that, a holiday for the whole family. So when it comes to booking accommodation, keep in mind who you’re travelling with. Here are our picks of the top family-friendly resorts in Fiji.

Shangri-La Fijian Resort & Spa

Shangri La Fijian Resort
Lagoon swimming pool, Shangri-La Fijian Resort & Spa, Fiji

If it’s not the Shangri-La’s stunning views that will win you over, then their range of kid-friendly services and facilities certainly will. Every day the hotel runs the Little Chief’s Club, which is catered to kids between 4 – 12 years old. The club’s activity coordinators entertain children with a wide variety of fun activities, including crab racing, scavenger hunts, pottery making and even Fijian singing lessons. Activities take place at the children’s pool, playground or at the beach – meaning your kids will never be bored. The hotel also offers child-minding services - just in case parents want to sneak in a date night or relax with a couple’s massage.

Sheraton Fiji

Fijian Bure Shereton
Fijian Bure, Sheraton Fiji Hotel, Fiji

At Sheraton, parents have the luxury of taking a well-deserved break whilst resting assured that their little ones are entertained and well taken care of. The resort’s LaiLai Kids Club is renowned as one of the best in Fiji, offering a comprehensive daily program of educational and fun activities. Whether it’s Fijian language lessons, fish feeding, dancing or face painting, there’s bound to be something for every child. The Club is free for all kids; however, a full evening program is available with the Kid’s Club at the cost of FJD 25 per child, per evening.

Outrigger Resort

Outrigger Beach Resort
Outrigger Beach Resort, Fiji

Now it may sound clichéd, but at Viti Levu’s Outrigger Beach Resort, kids actually do come first. Being family friendly is the focus at this 5-star resort and the options are pretty impressive. For the tiny tots there’s the Kids Club (3-12 years), which specialises in Fijian games and poolside activities. Meanwhile the Teen Activity Program is designed to impress even the most hard-to-please teenager. They’ll be making spears, exploring sand dunes and hiking through the rain forest.

Fun Activities For Kids

Beachside Fun

Banana Boat
Banana boat ride, Plantation Island, Fiji

Fiji’s beaches alone will keep your little ones happy. Think soft white sand, warm waters and plenty of marine life to play with. Banana boat rides are particularly fun and is an activity the whole family can participate in.

Snorkelling

South Sea Cruises
South Sea Cruises, Fiji

Mana Island is filled with colourful fish, making it a popular beachside location for easy snorkelling. Young children who aren’t strong swimmers can join in on the fun too! South Sea Island allows guests and children to marvel at the incredible underwater marine life via a semi-submersible.

Kula Eco Park

Kula Echo Park
Kula Eco Park entrance, Fiji

Allow your kids to get up close and personal with the wild side of Fiji with a fun day trip out to Kula Eco Park. Enjoy a family nature walk through acres of natural forest to explore the forest canopy and to witness Fiji’s spectacular bird, reptile and marine life.

Tips For Travelling With Kids

Kids Playing Plantation Island
Kids playing with sand, Plantation Island, Fiji

• Pack your kid’s favourite toys, which can help them to settle into a new location. Utilise toys as rewards on the plane to keep them calm and occupied.
• Fiji has a tropical climate and so it’s a good idea to watch your water intake. Pack water bottles to keep the kids hydrated at all times.
• If your child is a fussy eater, pack some tinned food or their favourite snacks – you never know when that might come in handy.
• When travelling with young children, make a note to bring your own car or booster seats.
• Don’t plan too many activities in the first two days as they are often write-off days. Young children require time to adjust to a new environment and so expect some chaos at the beginning of the trip.
• Don’t be afraid to use the nanny services available at the resort. Most of these child minding facilities offer a wide variety of kid-friendly activities, bound to keep your little ones entertained, while you jet off to a relaxing massage.

By Jennifer Liu Continue Reading
Tagged: Activities, Adventure, Family, Resorts
Things To Do In Port Vila Vanuatu
Posted 4 May 2016

From cascading waterfalls to pristine island beaches and Blue Lagoons, Port Vila is one of only a few places in the world where you can have so many once in a lifetime experiences within a couple minutes from each other.

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View if Iririki Island from Port Vila Harbour ©David Kirkland

MELE CASCADES WATERFALL

Located in the rainforest of Mele village, Mele Cascades is a unique eco-friendly and multi-tiered waterfall. The water flowing from each rock pool is unbelievably clear that you would almost be tempted to drink from it. Depending on your fitness level, it takes about 20 minutes to traverse to the top tier waterfall. The pools are ice cool and refreshing, and a dip is the perfect reward for that short hike on a hot day.

Cascade Hotel
Cascades, Port Vila, Vanuatu

There are no real steep hills to climb only gradual inclines that meander through a rainforest like scene. The streams of cool water are a tease where the path crosses shallow streams at various points along the walk, building anticipation and enticing you further. The pathway is steady and, in my opinion, suitable for most ages. For the parts that might seem a little risky, the land owners have done well to build slip-free reinforcing and provided rope support into the landscape in a way that does not compromise the integrity of the natural environment.

Cascades Waterfall
Cascades, Port Vila, Vanuatu

At the entrance there are well maintained restrooms and a cafe. Mele Cascades is only a 20-minute drive from Port Vila town Centre. If you prefer you could catch the local bus or taxi to take you there or go with Evergreen Vanuatu who provide tours to the Cascades. There is a fee to be paid at the entrance to the Cascades but it is definitely well worth the experience.

BEACH BAR FIRE DANCE by VANUA FIRE (FRIDAY NIGHTS)

Just a 15-minute drive from Port Vila town Centre, the famous Beach Bar Fire Dance is possibly the best way to spend your Friday evening. This one-hour show starts at 7pm and is deserving of its immense popularity. Made up of a group of young local talent who call themselves Vanua Fire; this is island fire dancing like you’ve never seen. Unlike traditional fire dancing, this show can be likened to a contemporary theatre performance with different themes and acts that seem to tell its own story.

Beach Bar
Beach Bar Fiji Dance, Port Vila, Vanuatu

The upbeat music is supported by a live in-house DJ making it very funky and well-rehearsed. These fire dancers spin fire sticks, fire poi's, fire hula hoops and breathe fire. You can even expect the odd fireworks thrown into the mix. The show is free to watch but the talented group are an initiative of their own and are well- deserving of any donations. The audience are given the opportunity to donate at the end of the show.

PELE ISLAND BEACH & SNORKELLING

Pele Island
Pele Island, Vanuatu

Pele Island is one of Vanuatu’s more beautiful islands with historical and local living experiences to offer its visitors. It takes about 25 minutes from Port Vila town Centre to Emua Wharf on the north side of the island, and a further 10 minutes by boat to Pele Island. More than its golden sandy beaches, swaying palms and turquoise waters; it’s the simplicity of life, the happy children and ultra-laid back lifestyle that really captivates you about Pele. Even the animals seem to be in tune with this lifestyle.

Snorkeling
Snorkeling, Pele Island, Vanuatu

Once you have settled in, the local tour guide will brief you on the island, its facilities and from that point on - it feels like home. You are free to roam the island, its local village and use the beach to swim, laze or play. Pele’s surrounding waters were declared a marine sanctuary in 2003 so snorkeling is the perfect way to get up close with the abundant tropical marine life. Ensure you visit Pele Island as soon as you have a chance as the island is part of a climate change adaptation programme which means, there could be a real possibility it won’t be around forever.

BLUE LAGOON

This is another highlight of Port Vila that is simply surreal you won’t want to miss it. The colours of the lagoon are ridiculously beautiful, possibly one of the more amazing things you will see. Before you jump in, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of nature and soak it all in. It is no doubt one of those picture- perfect moments you want etched into your memory forever. Relaxing and refreshing, the Lagoon is a mixture of fresh and saltwater. Tall trees and rope swings give you that added thrill when you plunge into this natural wonder.

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon, Efate Island, Vanuatu

The Lagoon usually has a handful of people but tends to be busier on cruise ship days. Only 35 minutes from Port Vila town, the drive out to Blue Lagoon is also relaxing and almost therapeutic, especially as you meander your way through those open roads. Nothing but green hills, plantations, fresh air, beautiful beaches and miles of open sea.

Fiji Airways flies twice weekly from Suva to Port Vila on Wednesdays and Sundays, and four times weekly from Nadi to Port Vila on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Vanuatu's Leading Indigenous inbound tour operator, Evergreen Vanuatu provides both half day and full day tours to the Mele Cascades and Pele Island. Also explore Scuba Diving in Vanuatu.

By Aulden Warbrooke And Jade Lee Continue Reading
Tagged: Activities, Adventure, Leisure
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