21 days

Indochina Adventure

Indochina Adventure

Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi

The monks of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Luang Prabang

The mysterious Plain of Jars

'Junk' boat cruise among the limestone karsts of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay

Cu Chi Tunnels - the underground network of the Viet Minh and Viet Cong

Mekong slow boat cruise

Huay Xai - old Yunnanese caravan disembarkation point

Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh's history

Tuol Sleng Prison Museum

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Angkor Wat

Angkor Thom's stone-carved human faces

Bangkok's Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Kuang Si Waterfalls

The Buddha images of Tam Ting Cave

The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon

The reclining golden Buddha of Wat Po

The tailors and market traders of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An

Vientiane

Trip rating
  • This is the complete Indochina - a grand adventure through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam that immerses us in the region's rich historic and cultural heritage. Vibrant and busting Bangkok is the quintessential Asian city that doesn't sleep - a great place to start our journey. With its laid-back charm, Laos is sure to captivate. The Mekong River remains its lifeblood, but we find the country's heart and soul in the former royal enclave of Luang Prabang. The Plain of Jars stand as a sentinel to a mysterious past, whilst Vientiane must be one of the world's most relaxed capital cities. Cambodia beckons with the glories of the Angkor period that is still evident in the magnificent temples and monuments carved from stone. Phnom Penh is like a 'phoenix rising from the ashes', as it leaves its recent turbulent past behind. Beautiful Vietnam completes our Indochina adventure with its traces of French colonialism intersperse with the glorious oriental heritage of the Vietnamese people. Exciting Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), magical Hoi An, colonial Hanoi and spectacular Halong Bay all combine to make up a stunning kaleidoscope.

     

     

    Why we love it

    • This is the complete Indochina - a grand adventure through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam that immerses us in the region's rich historic and cultural heritage.
    • Vibrant and busting Bangkok is the quintessential Asian city that doesn't sleep - a great place to start our journey.
    • With its laid-back charm, Laos is sure to captivate.
    • The Mekong River remains its lifeblood, but we find the country's heart and soul in the former royal enclave of Luang Prabang.
    • The Plain of Jars stand as a sentinel to a mysterious past, whilst Vientiane must be one of the world's most relaxed capital cities.
    • Cambodia beckons with the glories of the Angkor period that is still evident in the magnificent temples and monuments carved from stone.
    • Phnom Penh is like a 'phoenix rising from the ashes', as it leaves its recent turbulent past behind.
    • Beautiful Vietnam completes our Indochina adventure with its traces of French colonialism intersperse with the glorious oriental heritage of the Vietnamese people.
    • Exciting Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), magical Hoi An, colonial Hanoi and spectacular Halong Bay all combine to make up a stunning kaleidoscope.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Bangkok

    • When you arrive in Bangkok you will be transferred to the comfortable and centrally located hotel.
    • A pre-trip briefing will be held in the evening, to meet the other members of your group and discuss the trip itinerary. Please check for a welcome notice on the Peregrine notice board located near the hotel lifts. This will provide you with your tour leader's name and the exact time and location of your welcome meeting.
    • Until this meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Bangkok has to offer, especially trying some of Thailand’s famous cuisine. After the group meeting in the evening, you may adjourn to a nearby restaurant and enjoy a meal together (this is optional and at your own expense).
    • The rest of the evening is free - perhaps a quiet drink or a visit to the bustling night markets of Bangkok.
    Nouvo City Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Bangkok - Chiang Rai

    • You will enjoy a city tour of Bangkok. You will visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), a must for first-time travellers to Bangkok.
    • You will also visit Wat Pho, home of the famous Reclining Buddha. (When visiting temples and palaces in Thailand, please dress conservatively in order to respect the local culture).
    • You will then transfer to the airport and fly up to the northern city of Chiang Rai.
    Wiang Inn Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Huay Xai - Pakbeng

    • Today will be an early start; you’ll leave Chiang Rai before dawn and travel approximately two-and-a-half hours to Chiang Khong. After completing border formalities you will take a small boat across the Mekong River to Huay Xai, your first stop in Laos.
    • For centuries Huay Xai was a disembarkation point for Yunnanese caravans led by the Chinese Muslims on their way to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, in ancient Siam. Today it is a hustling ferry town on the banks of the Mekong River.
    • You will transfer to the boat pier, where you’ll board a slow boat for the trip down the Mekong River. The pace is very relaxed - a perfect way to observe the local lifestyle close up.
    • You will arrive in the evening in Pakbeng; a colourful village situated at the junction of the Mekong River and the smaller Beng River, hence the town's name 'Pak' meaning 'mouth' in Lao.
    • Hmong and tribal Thais are frequently seen on the main street of Pakbeng, and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicrafts.
    • You will spend the night in a simple hostel. Please be warned that the accommodation standard is very basic, but also bear in mind that you are travelling in a remote area. Please have an open mind and come with an adventurous spirit!
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Luang Prabang

    • You will continue on your private slow boat journey down the Mekong River, gaining more insights into local rural life along the way. Just before arriving at Luang Prabang you will stop at Pak Ou (meaning 'mouth of the Ou River'), where the famous Tam Ting Cave houses thousands of Buddha images of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devoted villagers. You will also stop at the village of Ban Sang Hai, where they make the potent local rice-wine.
    • Your travel time will vary greatly, depending on the water levels, but you should arrive in Luang Prabang in the early evening.
    • This beautiful town, with its gleaming temple roofs, fading French architecture and stunning mountain backdrop, has been claimed by UNESCO to be 'the best preserved city in South East Asia'.
    New Daraphet Villa or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Luang Prabang

    • In the morning you will have the option to rise early to view the procession of monks on their daily outing collecting alms, a practice that dates back centuries.
    • The people of the town wait out the front of their houses with food for the monks to collect and take back to the temple.
    • It is done early, as the monks cannot eat anything after midday. By giving food to a monk you ‘het bon’ or make merit, which should augur well for your next life.
    • Following breakfast you will visit the major temples, including the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong, which nestles at the meeting of the Mekong and the Nam Khan Rivers, and Wat Wisunalat, which is the oldest temple in the city.
    • After the tour you will have the chance to walk around the local shops, which are known for hand weaving and other interesting artifacts. You will have the chance to try your hand at bargaining here.
    • You will visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace next, an interesting structure that dates from the early years of the 20th Century and combines traditional Lao architecture with French colonial influence.
    • The collection of treasures and artifacts reflects the richness of Lao culture, dating from the days of the early kings right through to the last sovereign, who was deposed in 1975.
    • In the afternoon you will embark on another highlight of the stay - a 29-kilometre journey south of town to visit the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls.
    • In the evening back in Luang Prabang you will be free to make further discoveries including walking around the popular Night Bazaar.
    • Another great optional activity is to sample a traditional Lao massage and herbal sauna.
    New Daraphet Villa or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Phonsavan

    • In the mid-morning you will harness your spirit of adventure and travel on a private bus to remote Xieng Khuang Province, an area that was devastated by American bombing between 1964 and 1973.
    • The high altitude means that the weather will be relatively cool. You will visit the province’s old capital of Muang Khun that was largely destroyed in the bombing raids, as well as the nearby villages, home to the Hmong hill tribe who have an interesting local culture and colourful history.
    • The Hmong people wear distinctive costumes and live at high altitudes. You will spend the night in a basic hotel in the small town of Phonsavan, which is the province’s current capital.
    Anoulack Ken Lao Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Phonsavan - Vientiane

    • In the morning you will visit the Plain of Jars, an archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are littered all over the plateau.
    • It is said that these jars are over 2000 years old, but there is no reliable way of dating them and archaeologists are still mystified as to their original purpose (opinions vary from burial urns to rice whisky vats).
    • You will then be transferred to the airport to catch a flight to Vientiane - the capital of Laos.
    City Inn or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Vientiane

    • A city tour will acquaint you with the major sights of the capital.
    • You will visit the imposing Patuxai monument (also known as the Anousavari, which translates as ‘Victory’ in Lao), which is Vientiane's version of the Arc de Triomphe and dominates the city's main thoroughfare.
    • It was also nicknamed the ‘Vertical Runway’, which refers to the fact that it was built in the 1960s with funds that the US Government had given to the Lao Government for the expressed purpose of extending the runway at the airport!
    • Wat Si Saket is the oldest temple in the city, and Wat Prakeo, the former royal temple, previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha image before the Siamese took it in the late 18th Century.
    • You will visit both temples and the most famous structure in Laos, the That Luang stupa.
    • A drink in a riverside bar watching the glorious sunset over the Mekong River is the perfect way to finish the day.
    City Inn or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 9 - Phnom Penh

    • You will be transferred to the airport, where you will say goodbye to your Lao tour leader and fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Please note: it is unlikely that you will be escorted on this flight.
    • When you arrive in Phnom Penh you will be transferred to a comfortable and centrally located hotel
    • A Cambodia trip sector briefing will be held in the evening. Please check for a welcome notice on the Peregrine notice board located near the hotel lifts. This will provide you with your tour leader's name and the exact time and location of your Welcome Meeting.
    • Keep in mind that you will need to again bring your travel insurance details with you to the meeting.
    • There is nothing planned until this meeting, so we recommend you take to the streets of Phnom Penh and explore the city.
    • For those with extra time, a visit to the National Museum with its collection of classic Khmer craftsmanship is worth a visit.
    • After a pre-trip briefing, you will adjourn for dinner in the restaurant run by the Friends organisation (closed on public and school holidays when you will dine at an alternative restaurant).
    • During your free time after dinner, you might even choose to have a relaxing drink at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, a great way to spend your evening.
    Ohana Palace Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 10 - Phnom Penh

    • Cambodia has a rich and diverse history, which is especially evident in its bustling capital. From the winding Mekong River, French-inspired colonial architecture, and proud Khmer pre-industrial empire, to the more recent devastation of the Khmer Rouge – Phnom Penh remains a living relic of the country’s past struggles and successes.
    • A full city tour will introduce you to the sights of Phnom Penh, a city that lies near the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap Rivers.
    • The private quarters of the Royal Palace are home to King Sihamoni and are therefore closed to the public; however, you will be able to visit the Silver Pagoda that lies in the palace complex, which is the most sacred temple in the country and was previously spared from destruction by the Khmer Rouge.
    • You can make an optional visit to Wat Phnom, the temple that gave rise to the foundation of the city in the 15th century.
    • The bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge is a painful, but unavoidable, part of Cambodia's recent history and visits to the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek tell the story of this tragic legacy.
    • (Note: These sites are a major part of sightseeing in Phnom Penh; however, if you do not wish to visit either of them, please inform your tour leader.)
    • An ideal way to spend your evening to relax in a cafe by the riverfront.
    Ohana Palace Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - Siem Reap

    • You will depart the capital and fly north to Siem Reap today. You will notice a distinct change of pace here.
    • The rest of the day will be free so you can explore the colourful markets and many street food offerings.
    Steung Siem Reap Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 12 - Siem Reap

    • You spend a full day visiting the amazing temples of Angkor on a guided tour. Angkor Thom, the 'Great Royal City', is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone.
    • The impressive Bayon temple is the centrepiece. Angkor Wat is the largest and most complete structure. It is the only one of Angkor's temples with its entrance facing to the west (the others face east), the reason being that it was constructed as a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II and a westerly countenance was seen to represent a sunset.
    • Ta Prohm temple is an incredible sight, with large trees embedding themselves in the stone foundations of the structure. This demonstrates the true feebleness of man’s creations when confronted with the powerful force of nature.
    • You have the opportunity to visit the Sala Bai Hotel School where underprivileged local youths learn skills that enable them to find gainful employment in the hospitality industry. You enjoy a lunch prepared by students at the school (please note that this is closed on public holidays and school holidays and an alternative restaurant will be used).
    Steung Siem Reap Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 13 - Siem Reap

    • It is an early morning start as you travel out to Banteay Srei, famous for its detailed and intricate stone carvings. It is not a big temple, but has been sometimes referred to as ‘the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art’.
    • Back at the main temple complex, Preah Khan contains a maze of vaulted corridors and is another complex that has been largely reclaimed by the jungle.
    • Your ticket for the Angkor ruins enables you to spend more time exploring this memorable archaeological area.
    • Indulge with a traditional Khmer massage.
    • Visit the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), a place that rehabilitates animals that have fallen victim to wildlife trafficking and provides a breeding facility for highly endangered animal species. It is also a centre of education and information for the local population.
    • Learn to prepare Khmer food in a local cooking class (optional).
    • Enjoy a final Khmer dinner on your last night in Siem Reap.
    Steung Siem Reap Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 14 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

    • You will be transferred back to the airport, where you will say goodbye to Cambodia and fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    • Please note that you are likely to be unescorted on this flight and will be met on arrival by your Vietnamese tour leader or a local representative.
    • This evening you will gather together for another briefing with your Vietnamese tour leader. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of the city's many fantastic eating spots.
    Asian Ruby Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 15 - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City

    • Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the nation's economic capital. A short city tour takes you to the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum, and also allows you to admire the exterior of the many beautiful French colonial buildings such as the main post office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the former Hotel de Ville (city hall).
    • The bustling Binh Tay Market in Cholon (Chinatown) will offer you a new perspective on the city; you will see the abundance of fresh local produce that is such an important feature of Vietnamese cuisine.
    • In the afternoon, you will head out of town to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is actually the name of the district that covers an extensive underground network (approximately 200 kilometres) of tunnels dug initially by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong.
    • The tunnels contained hospitals, plus accommodation and schools, and were used extensively for refuge and storage and also utilised as a military base for the Viet Cong close to Ho Chi Minh City.
    • The 1968 Tet Offensive was launched from Cu Chi with surprising effect. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow tourists to get a feel for what the life underground must have been like (please note that this will be hot and sweaty and also a bit claustrophobic!).
    Asian Ruby Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 16 - Danang - Marble Mountain - Hoi An

    • You will depart Ho Chi Minh City and fly to Danang today, where you will enjoy some sightseeing en route to Hoi An. China Beach (known locally as the East Sea), enjoyed as an 'R & R' spot during the Vietnam War, lies against a backdrop of the sensational Marble Mountains.
    • The five peaks, which are actually limestone with marble outcrops, are seen to epitomise the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The history of the mountains is rich. The Champas once used them for religious purposes, but in more recent times became a haven for the Viet Cong, with their clear view of the Danang air base - at one time the busiest airport in the world.
    • You will arrive in Hoi An in the afternoon and settle in for your two-night stay in this historical ‘oasis’.
    Hoi An Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 17 - Hoi An

    • Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There is a distinctly Chinese appearance with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. Hoi An was once a bustling port in centuries gone by, before the river silted up. Today it is a delightful backwater town with an air of liveliness about it. The tranquility and charm of Hoi An, coupled with its low tiled houses, makes it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam. It is a consistent favourite among travellers and staff alike. A tour will take you to a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
    • You will enjoy a free afternoon to make the most of delightful Hoi An and its surrounding areas. The market is a good place to buy silk that can be made up into fine garments, all within a day. Close to town there is a nice beach, which can be reached easily by bicycle.
    Hoi An Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 18 - Hanoi

    • You will be transferred to the airport for a morning flight to the capital.
    • Hanoi is one of Asia’s most enchanting cities. The northern capital is a quiet contradiction to its southern counterpart. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, and exploration by foot or bicycle is recommended. The shopping is fun and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes from the city.
    • You will take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi, visiting the major sights, including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and paying a homage to Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh.
    • The tour will also include lunch at the KOTO café, an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for underprivileged young people.
    • In the evening there is an option to enjoy a performance of the unique Water Puppets.
    Lan Vien Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 19 - Halong Bay

    • You can leave your luggage behind at the Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. It is a four-and-a half-hour drive to famous Halong Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders.
    • The views of sailing junks navigating past over 3000 limestone islands with rocky outcrops are nothing short of spectacular.
    • You will travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where you will board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board. We visit one cave in the area and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim.
    • Conditions may be somewhat more communal compared to the usual hotel setting, but spending a night on the bay is such a wonderful experience. If the weather is obliging, the views at sunset are especially incredible.
    • There are only limited numbers of cabins on each boat, so the Single Supplement does not apply on the Halong Bay cruise, as all accommodation here is on a twin-share basis.
    • All boats used by Peregrine have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning.
    • You may also have the chance to do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved) while on Halong Bay.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 20 - Hanoi

    • In the morning you will sail back to the port, where you will disembark and drive back to Hanoi.
    • Arriving back in the capital, you will have free time to wander around and enjoy some of the city’s other attractions. Perhaps some shopping on Hang Gai Street, or afternoon tea at the Metropole Hotel?
    Lan Vien Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 21 - Hanoi

    • Your tour will come to an end today after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included; however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leaders in each country, and local guides at some sites.
    • Local flights: Bangkok to Chiang Rai, Phonsavan to Vientiane, Vientiane to Phnom Penh (unescorted), Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City (unescorted), Ho Chi Minh City to Danang and Danang to Hanoi.
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Bangkok - the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Temple of the Reclining Buddha; thousands of Buddha images in Tam Ting Cave; Ban Sang Hai village
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Luang Prabang - the procession of monks, Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Wisunalat and the National Museum at the former Royal Palace; Kuang Si Waterfalls; Muang Khun; Plain of Jars
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Vientiane - Patuxai Monument, Wat Si Saket, Wat Prakeo and That Luang Stupa
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Phnom Penh - the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Binh Tay Market in Cholon; Cu Chi Tunnels
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Marble Mountain; China Beach; and Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh’s House and Temple of Literature.
    • Visit to the Angkor complex: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan and Banteay Srei.
    • Arrival transfer
    • Accommodation: 18 nights comfortable hotel, 1 night basic hotel, 1 night boat
    • Meals: 20 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners.

    Not Included

    • International long-haul flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature.
    • Departure transfer

    Safety Information

    It is recommended that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information prior to your departure.Peregrine strongly recommends the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Please leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Most of our hotels will have a safety deposit box, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and Peregrine makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING CONDITIONS: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Be aware that traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home.

    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    SWIMMING POOLS: You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.

    BALCONIES: Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

    SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.

  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Indochina Adventure

    Peter - Australia, 1 Dec, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    Indochina Adventure

    Marie - Australia, 3 Nov, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating
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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PAIA
Start City: Bangkok, Thailand
End City: Hanoi, Vietnam
Style: Small Group

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