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Where in the world?

billwillbillwill Registered User regular
edited May 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
My 21st birthday is fast approaching and my family has decided to ship me somewhere as their big gift to me.

I won't be able to go until late Fall-ish because of my job and then school, but I'm fine with that because it gives me more time to research where exactly I want to go.

They'll be covering just the airfare; covering the other stuff shouldn't be an issue for me, as it will mostly be a week or two max vacation and I can save up.

The only question is, where do I pick?

Some things to consider:

+ I'll be traveling alone (most likely) and I'm a 6'4" white male.
+ I've already been to New Zealand (though that's it), but I would totally be opening to visiting again.
+ I like the idea of backpacking around. Or maybe a step above that. But I'm not looking for glitz and glamour.
+ I'm not interested in traveling anywhere in the Americas. The rest of the world is good.
+ I like hiking and kayaking a lot.
+ I love history.
+ I think China would be cool but I'm worried about sticking out like a sore thumb.

Thanks so much!

I hate you and you hate me.
billwill on

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    BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    What country do you live in?

    Steam- SteveBartz Xbox Live- SteveBartz PSN Name- SteveBartz
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    billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    Duh. Probably would have been a good thing to include in the OP!

    I'm in the United States right now.

    I hate you and you hate me.
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Quid on
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    billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    I hate you and you hate me.
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    billwill wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    Is China the best place to go alone if you don't speak the language and are clueless about their culture?

  • Options
    billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    Esh wrote: »
    billwill wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    Is China the best place to go alone if you don't speak the language and are clueless about their culture?

    I have ~6 months to learn about their culture and some basic language?

    I hate you and you hate me.
  • Options
    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    billwill wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    I don't know much about their national parks, but Xi'an might be a good pick. The city's rich in historical sites on its own including the Terracotta Soldiers and is nearby a few national parks.

  • Options
    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    Esh wrote: »
    billwill wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    Is China the best place to go alone if you don't speak the language and are clueless about their culture?

    He'd hardly be the first to do it. A few of my coworkers first went to China, some by themselves, not knowing the language at all.

  • Options
    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    billwill wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    billwill wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    Is China the best place to go alone if you don't speak the language and are clueless about their culture?

    I have ~6 months to learn about their culture and some basic language?

    6 months to self teach yourself enough of a non-indo European language to get by on your own? Not near enough time. You could maybe teach yourself a few phrases, but that's about it. You're probably going to slaughter the intonation so badly that no one will have a clue what you're saying.

    Again, based on your previous posts, I'm going to say you should go somewhere that's a little more...easy for a casual tourist to get by in.

  • Options
    billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    Esh wrote: »
    billwill wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    billwill wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    Is China the best place to go alone if you don't speak the language and are clueless about their culture?

    I have ~6 months to learn about their culture and some basic language?

    6 months to self teach yourself enough of a non-indo European language to get by on your own? Not near enough time. You could maybe teach yourself a few phrases, but that's about it. You're probably going to slaughter the intonation so badly that no one will have a clue what you're saying.

    Again, based on your previous posts, I'm going to say you should go somewhere that's a little more...easy for a casual tourist to get by in.

    Thanks for the consideration. Duly noted. But I'm still strongly considering China.

    I hate you and you hate me.
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited May 2012
    billwill wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    billwill wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    billwill wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    Is China the best place to go alone if you don't speak the language and are clueless about their culture?

    I have ~6 months to learn about their culture and some basic language?

    6 months to self teach yourself enough of a non-indo European language to get by on your own? Not near enough time. You could maybe teach yourself a few phrases, but that's about it. You're probably going to slaughter the intonation so badly that no one will have a clue what you're saying.

    Again, based on your previous posts, I'm going to say you should go somewhere that's a little more...easy for a casual tourist to get by in.

    Thanks for the consideration. Duly noted. But I'm still strongly considering China.

    I'm talking about previous threads, by the way, not your posts in this one.

    Iceland could be fun. Their economy is shit right now too, so your money will go nice and far.

    Esh on
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    billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    billwill wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    China would actually be an excellent choice. You will stick out but it'll only make you a cool sight to most, especially out in the country. From everyone I've talked to Westerners are generally well received. Meanwhile it has amazing forests and mountains, some of the oldest relics and sites, and a good train system you can opt use to take the scenic route to wherever you decide to go instead of a plane. Also super cheap.

    The one major drawback would be the language barrier if you don't understand any.

    Yeah, there's this one national park I was looking at that's in China but I can't find it (I lost my bookmarks a while ago). It's pretty iconic. I think it's the most famous one in China, if anyone would be kind enough to link me. :D

    And yeah, the cost would be great!

    The only issue I have is where would I go in China? It's a pretty big country.

    I don't know much about their national parks, but Xi'an might be a good pick. The city's rich in historical sites on its own including the Terracotta Soldiers and is nearby a few national parks.

    Thanks for the suggestion! Xi'an seems pretty cool, from the reading I'm doing on it now.

    May I ask what experience you have with China? Have you lived there/visited before? You seem pretty knowledgeable!

    I hate you and you hate me.
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    billwill wrote: »
    May I ask what experience you have with China? Have you lived there/visited before? You seem pretty knowledgeable!

    Unfortunately no. I speak the language and my job requires a somewhat broad knowledge about the country which also leads to spending a lot of time with people from there and who have visited. So I do have to say everything I tell you is only second hand from others I've talked to.

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    Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Xi'an now days is a big city, I've spent the day wandering through it, it's still got its old city walls which is neat and there are some hiking areas and it is near one of china's heavenly mountains with this.

    And the teracota warriors too.

    Blake T on
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    Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Have you considered the southern china area? I think they'd be more you style.

    I've also spent sometime in yangshou and there is a bunch of outdoor stuff to do from rock climbing (why I went) to hiking to bike riding and kayaking and has a cool off the track kind of vibe in it.

    Also forget esh, learn yes, no, thankyou and how to sign to ten and that is like 90% of everything covered for you. As you'll run into enough people who speak English there.

    Blake T on
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    The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    If I had my choice of any destination, personally, I'd head off to the Galapagos Islands.

    Having been to europe twice now (once to various cities in Scotland, once to Paris), I also give that locale a hearty thumbs-up if visiting another industrialized country is what you're aiming for.

    With Love and Courage
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    CauldCauld Registered User regular
    China is a good idea, but I think it's kind of a lot to tackle in only 1 or 2 weeks. You'll have to be focused on what you want. I've never been to southern China, but it seems like there's plenty to do in that region.

    I will recommend you the SE Asian region. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. Obviously you would want to narrow it down a little more than that, but there are a lot of good things to see in a relatively small geographical region.

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    CyberJackalCyberJackal Registered User regular
    If you're concerned about the language barrier, I've seen a lot of package deals on sites like Groupon and Travelzoo for guided tours in China and Thailand. It would run somewhat counter to your desire to "rough it", but these packages often include airfare, lodging, travel to various sites of interest, and most importantly an English speaking guide. I can't personally vouch for any of these services though.

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    LuianeLuiane Registered User regular
    One a different track than China, I think Europe could be something for you. In two weeks you could see a lot of Europe travelling by train and there is loads of historical stuff to see. I'm from Sweden myself and have been to a bunch of different European countries, and it is quite different culturally depending on where you go. As for hiking and so: The Alps are beautiful to walk in in the summer, and if you go during the winter it is splendid skiing there.

    Steam id: Varys
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    TriiipledotTriiipledot Registered User regular
    Amsterdam.

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    MentalExerciseMentalExercise Indefenestrable Registered User regular
    If you like history I would really recommend Europe over China. With its more familiar places and events it's easier to hit up a lot more interesting sites.

    Not only can you see Versailles, but you can hit up Hemmingway's favorite bar. See beautiful Venice, and go to Dino de Laurentis' favorite restaurant. That can all be really cool stuff, and China doesn't really provide the same opportunities.

    "More fish for Kunta!"

    --LeVar Burton
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    If you like history I would really recommend Europe over China. With its more familiar places and events it's easier to hit up a lot more interesting sites.

    Not only can you see Versailles, but you can hit up Hemmingway's favorite bar.

    Are you talking about Harry's New York Bar? Avoid like the plague. Maybe walk in and out, but otherwise it's an overpriced tourist trap.

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    saint2esaint2e Registered User regular
    i'm gonna suggest going to Australia, renting a camper van and just driving around. My sister-in-law spent 8 months doing this, and had the time of her life. Lots of physical activities, like you mentioned, and lots of cool things to see.

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    billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    These are all wonderful suggestions! Please, keep them coming.

    An issue might be renting a car while I'm overseas, though, since I'm 21 (or will be).

    I'm also considering just maybe going somewhere tropical, like Fiji, and relaxing there for the duration. I don't know, there are too many options!

    I hate you and you hate me.
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    RetabaRetaba A Cultist Registered User regular
    If languages are a problem, there are quite a few technological apps that can help and books! (Books would be a good idea to have on hand just in case anyways, batteries can run out. But the digital would probably be quicker and easier to use)

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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    Oh, and a place I do have some experie
    billwill wrote: »
    These are all wonderful suggestions! Please, keep them coming.

    An issue might be renting a car while I'm overseas, though, since I'm 21 (or will be).

    I'm also considering just maybe going somewhere tropical, like Fiji, and relaxing there for the duration. I don't know, there are too many options!

    The Philippines is ridiculously cheap and has an amazing country. I imagine there are lots of colonial and war time historical sites.

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    lonelyahavalonelyahava Call me Ahava ~~She/Her~~ Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    We had friends who just did Cambodia/thailand and malaysia for 2 weeks.

    Granted one of them has family in malaysia, but still.

    Come back down here to New Zealand! We probably have lots of stuff you haven't seen yet! Like the Waiamangu Valley (sight of the violent volcanic eruption back in the early 1900's. The whole valley was utterly destroyed, the pink and white terraces of victorian lore buried under 40 meters of a new lake. The vegetation is in the 2nd stage of growth after the volcanic eruption) It's so fucking cool. Of course it's in Rotorua so everything smells like sulfur. Also, we have hot water beaches!

    And things. Plus, if you're leaving the states in the fall, you'll get here during spring!

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    finralfinral Registered User regular
    I'd recommend China or anywhere in Southeast Asia. The language barrier won't be a problem (assuming you don't get stuck in some really rural town), as there are plenty of expats, travelers, tourist industry folk, and locals who will speak at least some English. Also, it is way cheaper to travel, eat, and sleep while you are there than it is in Europe.

    If you do China, the big sites are of course Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong for the city thing. Beijing is the best of those in my opinion, plenty of stuff to do there. For seeing awesome countryside, my recommendations are Yangshuo in Guilin, Chengdu in Sichuan, and Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang in Yunnan province. There are tons of things to do in all those places. For me, Xi'an was kind of a 2 days and done city, beyond the terracotta warriors and the old city wall, there wasn't much else going on there (or at least nothing worth travelling to the city for compared to other places).

    As much as I love China, I would probably recommend thailand and either Laos or Cambodia as a combo. Tons of great food, beaches, and cultural things to keep you busy, and doing two countries there in 2 weeks is pretty doable. I did a two week loop of Bangkok, Koh Phi Phi, Angkor Wat, and Sihanoukville and had a great time.

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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    Oh oh! I also recommend China! Yunnan province in China has some really great cities (Dali, Kunming, etc.... Kunming is probably one of my favorite cities I've ever been to), but it also has some nice places to hike, most notably the Tiger Leaping Gorge. It's a good day or two hike, depending on your speed, and has fantastic views.

    On the opposite end of the country is Beijing, which you could probably spend days there on it's own. But it has good access to most of the hike-able places of the Great Wall.

    As Quid said, you will stand out, but not in a bad way, really.

    The language would possibly be an issue, but you should be able to plan things out ahead of time and have most of that covered, so since this isn't going to be till the Fall, I wouldn't worry about that much.

    China has a LOT of history. And a lot of the "tourist" places in China are centered around the history, so if you are wanting to see ancient cultural landmarks, relics, etc., and learn some about them, China's a great choice.

    Is there a particular area of history you like more? i.e. Asian vs European? Because that could be an important factor.

    Battle.net ID: kime#1822
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    Jay FoxfireJay Foxfire Registered User regular
    I would suggest York, England. The city's built in and around these walls that date back to Roman times. Seeing and walking inside Yorkminster Cathedral is probably the first time I've ever felt in awe of something. There was this cool ghost walk I went on. If you like museums and history, you'd like York. Just be careful if it's around a graduation day. Hotels and B&Bs fill up fast.

    Mailman12089.jpg
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    billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    Thanks, guys. I really appreciate all the suggestions.

    I'm heavily leaning towards China right now. A huge concern of mine, though, is the weather; I'd be going early December, and I definitely don't want to deal with tons of snow, as I imagine that it would impede my hiking and just general exploring quite a bit. So would I need to stick to Southern China? Or what?

    Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    I hate you and you hate me.
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    finralfinral Registered User regular
    Yeah, for the love of god, don't go to Beijing in December. It is ridiculously cold around that time. I'm talking wearing thermal underwear with two winter jackets cold. Southern China could be a little cool at that point too, but definitely not huddling around the fire at night cold. Honestly, if December is your travel date, I would really recommend Thailand and the surrounding countries. It's T-shirt and shorts weather, with plenty of awesome places to go.

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    HypatiaHypatia Registered User regular
    If you're interested in China but have limited time, you could also consider Taiwan. Especially if you're going in December, Taiwan in December is pretty mild because it's tropical and Taiwan has gorgeous hiking, fantastic food, you can do a really good job of covering it in two weeks, and you always have the option of hopping over to mainland China from Taiwan.

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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    You might enjoy Northern Italy/Switzerland/Austria. Loads of mountains, lakes, accommodation, etc

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
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    LuianeLuiane Registered User regular
    Should be noted that if you go during december, there will be snow on the mountains so hiking purely for wandering might not be ideal - the skiing is very good, though. At least in Switzerland/Austria, as I have been skiing there.

    Steam id: Varys
    LoL EU West nickname: Irridan
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    KrubixCubeKrubixCube JapanRegistered User regular
    As a 6'4" American man you'll stick out no matter where you go I'm afraid =p. If you're a nature kind of guy I've heard Southern Italy is beautiful. Good food too.

    If you do go to China though tell me how it is, I've always wanted to go and I'm in Japan currently so I'm only a hop over the pond away...

    sig.gif
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