Overview of Vancouver, Canada

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Ask ten different people what their favorite thing to do in the Canadian city of Vancouver is and you are likely to get ten different answers. The reason you get varied responses stems from the fact that few places in the world compare to Vancouver. To the casual observer Vancouver is just another metropolitan city. Yet Vancouver differs from other major cities because it embodies diversity. In one day visitors can hike Stanley Park in the morning and then shop Downtown among the masses in the afternoon. Foodies buy produce at Granville Island one moment and enjoy fine dining in Yaletown the next. Convention goers attend meetings at Canada Place and then lounge waterside at English Bay Beach. Tourists walk historic Gastown before slurping noodles in Chinatown. These dichotomies exist in harmony with the diverse people of Vancouver.

With something for everyone Vancouver as a tourist destination appeals to even the most discerning of travelers. First time travelers looking at a map of Vancouver might notice that the city looks like an oyster shell. As anyone who loves oysters knows, you’ll want to crack that shell open and dig into what Vancouver offers. Vancouver isn’t a difficult city to navigate but the easiest way to get oriented is to begin somewhat in the middle of the city in the Downtown district. Downtown is home to the financial and business districts of the city. Among the skyscrapers you will find the Vancouver Central Library. This stunning building is an architectural contrast to the stark skyscrapers. In Downtown you’ll want to make your way to Robson Street. This is one of the main thoroughfares in Vancouver and stretches the length of the city.

On one end of Robson Street is BC Place, a stadium where one can catch either a sporting or musical event. Continuing on and around Robson Street you’ll find a variety of shops. A number of the stores are global brands but a few, such as Roots, are Canadian brands. Few tourists will walk the entirety of Robson Street, but those that do wind up at Stanley Park. If you don’t wish to walk, or don’t have a car, you will reach Stanley Park by bus. Stanley Park is a massive public space with paved paths for bicyclists, roller bladders, and walkers. Here visitors enjoy trees, totem poles, and the waters of the Vancouver Harbour.

To the east of Downtown you will find Canada Place. If you arrived by cruise ship, you will have most likely disembarked at this spot. Besides being a cruise ship terminal, Canada Place is home to a convention center and hotel. Near Canada Place is the oldest neighborhood in the city, the historic Gastown. First time tourists visit Gastown at least once, to see the Steam Clock and a chance to shop for souvenirs. Next to Gastown is Canada’s largest Chinatown. Vancouver’s Chinatown traces its history back to 1885 and to this day is full of shops and restaurants. While in Chinatown you will want to visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This tranquil spot is a wonderful place to recharge and center oneself.

West of Downtown, in simplest terms, is synonymous with food. The regions of the West End and Yaletown are quintessential foodie neighborhoods. Here you will find well-established diners among up and coming restaurants. Further west, across the waters of False Creek, is Granville Island. Here at the Granville Island Public Market are vendors galore. Visitors can buy fresh produce, straight out of the oven breads and pastries, and a plethora of other food products.

Regardless of how you spend your time in Vancouver you will find navigating the city easy. Those who enjoy walking will find wide avenues and flat surfaces. Bus routes traverse throughout the entire city. Ferries sail to Granville Island or further afield to places such as the city of Victoria. Vancouver’s rapid transit system, SkyTrain, runs through parts of Downtown. The SkyTrain connects Vancouver to the cities of Burnaby, New Westminister, Surrey, and Richmond. For those arriving in Vancouver by airplane, the SkyTrain’s Canada Line will get you from Vancouver International Airport to your destination in no time.

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Vancouver

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Vancouver Central Library: 49.279754, -123.115679
Robson Street: 49.284605, -123.124824
BC Place: 49.276750, -123.111999
Stanley Park: 49.298319, -123.137684
Canada Place: 49.289124, -123.116498
Gastown: 49.282808, -123.106688
Chinatown: 49.280600, -123.100553
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden: 49.279649, -123.103913
West End: 49.285646, -123.130621
Yaletown: 49.275702, -123.119907
Granville Island: 49.270622, -123.134741
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Vancouver Central Library
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver Public Library- Central Branch, West Georgia Street, Central, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Robson Street
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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BC Place
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
BC Place, Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Stanley Park
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
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Stanley Park: Vancouver’s Urban Park

Stanley Park Drive, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Canada Place
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, Canada Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Gastown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Gastown, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Chinatown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Chinatown, East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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West End
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
West End, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Yaletown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Yaletown, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Granville Island

Overview of Vancouver, Canada
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Vancouver’s Granville Island


Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

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Mickey Mouse’s House: Hong Kong Disneyland

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For fans of Walt Disney’s theme park, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. Regardless of how many times they visit the famed park a sense of joy overwhelms them. The park’s ability to bring forth the inner child in adults and to captivate the minds of children makes Disneyland a special place to visit. In 1955 the original Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, U.S.A. Since then Disney has built five more parks around the world, including Hong Kong Disneyland. Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005 on Lantau Island. Fans of Disney will find Hong Kong Disneyland a great addition to the roster of theme parks.

Mickey Mouse ears on the train for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line - Hong Kong, China

Mickey Mouse ears on the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line train

Statue of Minnie Mouse on the train for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line - Hong Kong, China

Statue of Minnie Mouse on the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line train

Arriving at Hong Kong Disneyland

The easiest and most convenient way for visitors to reach Hong Kong Disneyland is by using public transportation, Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Whether you are arriving straight from the airport or leaving your hotel on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon you will take the MTR to the Sunny Bay Station. Once at Sunny Bay Station you will board the Disneyland Resort Line bound for Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. On the Disneyland Resort Line train you will have your first chance to get into the Disney mood. The train’s windows are in the shape of Mickey Mouse ears and throughout the train are statues of various Disney cartoon characters. Sit back and enjoy the short six-minute ride journey to the Disneyland Resort Station.

Welcome sign for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Welcome sign for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Fountain with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse located outside the entrance to Hong Kong Disneyland - Hong Kong, China

Fountain with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse outside the entrance to Hong Kong Disneyland

Once you’ve arrived at the Disneyland Resort Station’s immaculate platform you will walk towards the welcome sign and on to the ticket booth and entrance to the park. What you will notice is that signs display both English letters and Chinese characters. The signs within the park and the signs for rides are in English and Chinese. Attractions and shows have either English audio or English subtitles. Anyone who understands either English or Chinese will navigate the park with ease. To enter the park you will need to buy tickets. Tickets are available ahead of time on-line or at the park’s ticket booths. Ticket prices in 2016 for a 1-day ticket: General Admission HK$539 (US$69), Child HK$385 (US$50), and Senior HK$100 (US$13). The 2-day ticket price: General Admission HK$739 (US$95), Child HK$525 (US$68), and Senior HK$170 (US$22).

Those who have visited Disneyland in California will find the low admission price a welcome surprise. The Hong Kong Disneyland General Admission 1-day ticket price is a third cheaper than the same ticket in California. Keep in mind that the cost differential could relate to the size of the parks. Hong Kong Disneyland is not as large a park as the one in California. If you visit Hong Kong Disneyland on an off-peak day you can ride every attraction and see every show within one day. If your schedule is flexible you will want to visit the park on an off-peak day. A mid-week day during non-holiday, non-school vacations, is the best chance to visit the park with the fewest amounts of people.

Mickey Mouse flower bed in front of Hong Kong Disneyland's Main Street Train Station - Hong Kong, China

Mickey Mouse flower bed in front of Hong Kong Disneyland’s Main Street Train Station

Sleeping Beauty Castle (Top portion of the Castle was going through renovations when this photo was taken) - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Sleeping Beauty Castle (top portion of the Castle was undergoing renovations when this photo was taken)

Inside Hong Kong Disneyland

After you have purchased your tickets you will enter the park. As you enter the park grab a map and the Times Guide with up-to-date information on when the parade, fireworks, and stage shows start. Once you pass the entrance gate visitors first see a flowerbed of the familiar face of Mickey Mouse and the Disneyland Main Street Train Station. Continue past the flowerbed and you will find yourself on Main Street. This replica of a Main Street in U.S.A. has shops filled with souvenirs, clothes, and candies. Walk Main Street to the Sleeping Beauty Castle. This location is a great meeting spot for groups that may get separated at any point during the day. From this central location you can reach any of the six lands found within Hong Kong Disneyland. Each land has attractions, shops, and eating venues. Choose from starting your day at Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, or Toy Story Land.

Tomorrowland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland's UFO Zone - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Tomorrowland’s UFO Zone

Tomorrowland

Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland has four attractions that are found in California’s Disneyland. Rides include Space Mountain, Orbitron, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and Autopia. Besides those rides two other attractions are in Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. The UFO Zone is a place for kids to play with water. The other attraction is the Stitch Encounter, an interactive video featuring Stitch from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch. In 2016 Tomorrowland will open a unique attraction, the Iron Man Experience. The Iron Man Experience will be the first official ride by Marvel inside any of the six Disney parks. Details at a Disney expo showcased how the ride has you flying alongside Iron Man as you help save the city from a villainous attack.

Mad Hatter Tea Cups ride in Fantasyland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Mad Hatter Tea Cups ride in Fantasyland

Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride in Fantasyland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride in Fantasyland

Fantasyland

The land next to Tomorrowland is Fantasyland. Attractions include Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Cinderella Carousel, “it’s a small world” and The Mad Hatter Tea Cups. The Mad Hatter Tea Cups ride is similar in design in both the Hong Kong and California parks. Except the Tea Cups in Hong Kong is underneath a covered roof as opposed to under the open sky as in California. Another ride in Hong Kong Disneyland’s Fantasyland is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This is the same ride found in Critter Country inside California’s Disneyland. A unique attraction to Fantasyland is “The Golden Mickeys”, a live action show celebrating Disney characters and movies. The show’s dialogue is in Chinese and large monitors on both sides of the stage display English subtitles.

Tarzan's Treehouse in Adventureland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Tarzan’s Treehouse in Adventureland

Jungle River Cruise ride entrance with English speaker line in Adventureland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

English speaker line for the Jungle River Cruise ride in Adventureland

Adventureland

From Fantasyland you will find yourself in Adventureland. Here visitors who’ve been to California Disneyland will find the familiar Tarzan’s Treehouse and Jungle River Cruise. As you enter the Jungle River Cruise attraction you will notice three different lines you can choose from to board the ride. The lines relate to what language the tour guide speaks on the boat you board. Choose the line for the language you know best, either English, Cantonese, or Putonghua/Mandarin.

Old West jail in Grizzly Gulch - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Old West jail in Grizzly Gulch

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars ride in Grizzly Gulch - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars ride in Grizzly Gulch

Grizzly Gulch

After you’ve visited Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Adventureland the similarities between Hong Kong Disneyland and California Disneyland lessen. The land next to Adventureland is Grizzly Gulch. Grizzly Gulch is a recreation of an Old West town. The buildings are straight out of the Wild West complete with a bank, hotel, and a blacksmith. There is even a Grizzly Gulch Jail where you can have your photo taken as a wanted criminal poster. The main attraction is Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, a ride that shares a resemblance to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in California’s Disneyland. Part of the ride has a mountain peak shaped as a bear. A similar peak is found in Disneyland’s other California park, California Adventure. The only other attraction in Grizzly Gulch is a zone set aside for water play.

Mystic Manor in Mystic Point - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Mystic Manor in Mystic Point

Three statues become one in the Garden of Wonders - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Three statues become one in the Garden of Wonders

Mystic Point

Mystic Point is the one land unlike any in California’s Disneyland but only has two attractions. One is the Garden of Wonders, with various sculptures that create 3D illusions. The other attraction is one of the best rides in the entire park. Mystic Manor is the ride you get from combining California Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and Indiana Jones. The Manor is the home of Lord Henry Mystic and his monkey friend Albert. Riders board carriages that take them throughout the mansion. As you travel through the mansion you view various artifacts Lord Henry has accumulated on his journeys. Albert joins you on your travels and his hijinks cause a few commotions to keep you entertained. This lighthearted ride is super fun and worth riding multiple times since you won’t find this ride in any other Disneyland parks.

Sheriff Woody welcomes you to Toy Story Land - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Sheriff Woody welcomes you to Toy Story Land

Rex welcomes you to Toy Story Land - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Rex welcomes you to Toy Story Land

Toys and Games in Toy Story Land - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Toys and Games in Toy Story Land

Slinky Dog Spin ride in Toy Story Land - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Slinky Dog Spin ride in Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land

The final land in Hong Kong Disneyland is Toy Story Land, based on the Toy Story movies. This land’s vibe resembles California Disneyland’s Mickey’s Toontown, but none of the rides or buildings in the two lands is the same. A gigantic replica of the Toy Story’s Rex welcomes you from one entrance to Toy Story Land and at the other entrance is a replica of Woody. Buildings are in the shapes of popular toys such as Lincoln Logs. Throughout the land you will see massive replicas of popular toys such as Tinker Toys, Dominos, Checkers, and Barrel of Monkeys. Attractions in this land lean more towards those found at traditional roller coaster theme parks. The Toy Soldier Parachute Drop is a ride where you sit in a carriage that is pulled up into the sky and then dropped at various speeds. The Slinky Dog Spin puts you in a carriage within Slinky Dog from the Toy Story movie. This ride goes around and around in a big circle. The final ride in Toy Story Land is the RC Racer where you race on a U-shaped track.

Dessert options at Hong Kong Disneyland - Hong Kong, China

Dessert options at Hong Kong Disneyland

Laksa and chicken satay at Hong Kong Disneyland - Hong Kong, China

Laksa and chicken satay at Hong Kong Disneyland

Food at Hong Kong Disneyland

Fans of Disneyland theme parks can buy their favorite snacks at Hong Kong Disneyland. On hot days you’ll still be able to cool off with a traditional Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar. Besides Mickey Mouse you can select Minnie Mouse Ice Cream Bar or a Sherbet Bar based on either Stitch or Lotso from Toy Story. Food carts sell churros, turkey legs, hot dogs, and corn on the cob. Within food halls you can buy hamburgers and other Western style cuisine. Food carts sell more localized cuisine such as red bean waffles, fish balls, and Hong Kong style tea. The food sold at Hong Kong Disneyland includes dishes from other Asian countries. For example you can buy a bowl of Laksa or chicken satay. Food carts even sell Korean squid and fish cake. The various dishes will keep you fueled up as you navigate the park.

Leaving Hong Kong Disneyland - Hong Kong, China

Leaving Hong Kong Disneyland (in the background on the left is the MTR Station)

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Hong Kong Disneyland

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Hong Kong Disneyland 22.315412, 114.039881 Mickey Mouse’s Other House: Hong Kong Disneyland

 

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Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia

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English-speaking travelers will find Hong Kong an accessible gateway to future travel through out Asia. Hong Kong was once a British colony and many who live in Hong Kong today speak English. With the language barrier removed Hong Kong is a perfect city for English-speaking travelers to acclimate to life in Asia. You will find signs and menus written in both English and Chinese. First time travelers will stick to the two main sections of Hong Kong, Kowloon in the north and to the south Hong Kong Island. Victoria Harbour separates Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and to sail across Victoria Harbour you will board the Star Ferry. Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is another way to travel between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. MTR is the fastest way to reach the parts of Hong Kong you will want to visit for sights, food, and shopping. The top two sights for Hong Kong are Victoria Harbour and Victoria Peak. Those who wish to shop can find stores in Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui district and on the streets around and on Hennessy Road on Hong Kong Island.

View overlooking Convention Centre, Victoria Harbour, and Kowloon - Hong Kong, China

View overlooking Convention Centre, Victoria Harbour, and Kowloon

Victoria Harbour

You will enjoy iconic views of Hong Kong while sailing across Victoria Harbour. As you sail through the harbor you’ll be able to take fantastic photos of the buildings on both the Kowloon side and the Hong Kong Island side. If you’re lucky a junk boat will pass by just as you’re snapping your photo to enhance the image. The easiest form of transportation across Victoria Harbour is on the Star Ferry. It is possible to traverse Victoria Harbour underground using the MTR but you won’t see the scenery traveling that way. The Star Ferry operates every 8-20 minutes depending on the time of day. So if you miss the ferry you know another one will be along soon. At the time of writing this article a one-way adult ticket was $2.50 Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) on weekdays and $3.40 HKD on weekends and public holidays. Converted into US currency that translates to 32 cents and 44 cents. This low fare makes the Star Ferry one of the cheapest modes of transportation in Hong Kong, and the cheapest way to get between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

Sailing over Victoria Harbour towards Hong Kong Island - Hong Kong, China

Sailing over Victoria Harbour towards Hong Kong Island

Victoria Peak

Besides Victoria Harbour the other place in Hong Kong to take postcard worthy photos is atop Victoria Peak. The journey to the top of Victoria Peak is part of the sightseeing. From the MTR Central Station you take the J2 exit, which places you in the middle of Chater Garden, a garden surrounded by striking skyscrapers. From Chater Garden you will continue ahead up Garden Road. As you walk Garden Road you will pass St. John’s Cathedral. The Anglican cathedral may appear out-of-place in the middle of the financial district yet this simple cathedral is an oasis of peace. The cathedral is open to the public during the day unless a religious service is taking place. Continue on Garden Road from St. John’s Cathedral and follow the signs to the Peak Tram Terminus.

Exterior of St. John's Cathedral - Hong Kong, China

Exterior of St. John’s Cathedral

Doorway into St. John's Cathedral - Hong Kong, China

Doorway into St. John’s Cathedral

At the Peak Tram Terminus you will buy tickets to board the Peak Tram. The best ticket to buy is the round-trip Peak Tram Sky Pass, which allows you passage on the tram and access to the Sky Terrace 428. The Sky Terrace 428, located atop the Peak Tower, offers stunning panoramic views of Hong Kong. At the time of writing this article the round-trip Peak Tram Sky Pass for adults is HKD $83 (US $10.64). The Peak Tram operates everyday from 7am to 12-midnight and departs every 10-15 minutes. Both the Peak Tower and Sky Terrace 428 are open from 10am to 11pm (Monday through Friday) and 8am to 11pm (Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays).

Peak Tower on Victoria Peak - Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, China

Peak Tower on Victoria Peak

The Peak Tram can get full of tourists so the earlier you can arrive at the Terminus the more peaceful your journey will be. As you exit the Peak Tram you will find yourself right inside the Peak Tower. From here you will go either to the top of the building or outside to the ground level of Victoria Peak. There are shops and restaurants within the Peak Tower and nearby at the Peak Galleria. Within Peak Tower you will ascend multiple escalators to reach Sky Terrace 428. Once there you will see a magnificent view of Hong Kong. Included in the view is the financial and downtown district of Hong Kong Island you walked through to get to the Terminus. You will see a multitude of office buildings, housing, and in the distance Victoria Harbour and Kowloon. Once you’ve soaked in the scenery return to the Peak Tram and retrace your steps back to the MTR.

View From Victoria Peak - Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, China

View From Victoria Peak

View From Sky Terrace 428 on top of Peak Tower on Victoria Peak - Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, China

View From Sky Terrace 428 on top of Peak Tower

Shopping

In Kowloon shopping is king. Whether you arrive by ferry or subway the moment you disembark your form of transportation you will find yourself in front of a store. Begin either at the shopping centers of iSquare and Tsim Sha Tsui Centre & Empire Centre or by walking Nathan Road with its many stores. In the evening the Temple Street Night Market comes alive in the streets on and surrounding Jordan and Yau Ma Tei.

The entirety of this shopping goodness is in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon. This is a mecca for shoppers looking to buy tailored suits or watches. If you are traveling to Hong Kong with the express intention of purchasing tailored clothing or jewelry you must do your research before your visit. Tourists are easy prey for con artists selling inferior products. Prior to your trip use the Internet to find reputable businesses to make sure the products you buy are of high quality and will last you a lifetime. As for the pushy sales people on the streets just smile and say “no thank you” as you walk by them.

Sometimes the hustle and bustle of Tsim Sha Tsui is too much to handle. For a reprieve and a chance to escape the crowds duck into Kowloon Park, located just off of Nathan Road. This large public park has trees, a garden, and a playground for children. On Sunday enjoy a free demonstration of Kung Fu or a lion dance. Decompress in this sanctuary of serenity before reentering the throng of people on Nathan Road.

Times Square shopping center in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island - Hong Kong, China

Times Square shopping center in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island

On the other side of Victoria Harbour, concentrated in the eastern part of Hennessy Road, is the shopping on Hong Kong Island. This section of shopping is accessible from the Causeway Bay MTR Station. Here you will find the Times Square shopping center and stores throughout the many streets leading off of Hennessy Road. Farther south on Hong Kong Island is the outdoor Stanley Market. Stanley Market is a tourist trap but even so it makes for a great place to find souvenirs for your loved ones.

 

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Hong Kong Sights

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Victoria Harbour: 22.287826, 114.174385
St. John\'s Cathedral: 22.278691, 114.159750
Peak Tram Lower Terminus: 22.278069, 114.159554
Victoria Peak / Victoria Tower / Sky Terrace 428: 22.275883, 114.145532
Nathan Road (Kowloon Shopping): 22.310549, 114.171156
Kowloon Park: 22.298716, 114.171936
Hennessy Road (Hong Kong Island Shopping): 22.279765, 114.182689
Stanley Market: 22.219052, 114.212853
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Victoria Harbour
Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia
Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
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St. John's Cathedral
Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia
St. John's Cathedral, Hong Kong
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Peak Tram Lower Terminus
Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia
Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus, Hong Kong
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Victoria Peak / Victoria Tower / Sky Terrace 428
Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia
Victoria Peak, The Peak, Hong Kong
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Nathan Road (Kowloon Shopping)
Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia
Nathan Road, Hong Kong
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Kowloon Park
Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia
Kowloon Park, Hong Kong
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Hennessy Road (Hong Kong Island Shopping)
Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia
Times Square, Hong Kong
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Stanley Market
Hong Kong: A Gateway To Asia
Stanley Market, Hong Kong

 

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Natural Portland

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Oregon’s city of Portland and the surrounding towns have much to offer both the active and passive nature lovers. Within walking distance from the city center is Washington Park. Washington Park includes the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden. To experience even more nature within driving distance is Multnomah Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Vista House on Crown Point.

Washington Park

By car Washington Park is a ten-minute drive from the Downtown district of Portland. It is a thirty-minute walk from the center of Portland to the section of Washington Park that leads to the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden. The walk is uphill and a great workout, and if you’ve walked the hills in San Francisco before the walk won’t be a challenge. The walk is an opportunity to see quaint residential homes along the way. After walking through the nice neighborhoods at the top of the hills you’ll find yourself at the intersection of SW Park Place and SW Lewis Clark Way. The entrance found here into Washington Park will lead you into the midst of sprawling trees and a playground. Washington Park has plenty of attractions such as the Oregon Zoo, an arboretum, children’s museum, memorials, and gardens.

Statue of Sacajawea and her son Jean-Baptiste found in Washington Park - Portland, Oregon

Statue of Sacajawea and her son Jean-Baptiste found in Washington Park

International Rose Test Garden

One of the main attractions of Washington Park is the International Rose Test Garden. This is the oldest public garden of its kind in the United States. The garden has over 500 varieties of roses and more than 7,000 plantings. This section of the park is free for visitors so you can spend whatever time you want during the garden’s open hours strolling through the various roses. Your experience of the roses will differ depending on the time of year you visit. Fall and winter months the garden does not offer much in the way of roses. Visit the garden during the spring and summer months and the roses will be in full bloom.

International Rose Test Garden in winter - Portland, Oregon

International Rose Test Garden in winter

International Rose Test Garden in summer - Portland, Oregon

International Rose Test Garden in summer

Portland Japanese Garden

Next to the International Rose Test Garden is the Portland Japanese Garden. To access this sight you will need to pay an entrance fee but what you pay is well worth the cost. The Japanese Gardens are well manicured and offer a different experience depending on the season and weather. In the wintertime the frost and snow settles along the various rocks, plants, and statues. During the fall months the turning of the leaves creates a colorful landscape. Spring and summer the plants are green and vivid. Wander the various lanes past ponds full of koi, small waterfalls, and rock gardens. The Japanese Garden has a lookout point with a magnificent view of Portland’s city skyline and Mount Hood. Please note that according to their website the Japanese Garden is closed from September 8, 2015 until March 1, 2016 due to construction for their Cultural Crossing expansion project. While the Japanese Garden itself will re-open in March the Cultural Crossing expansion construction will continue with an estimated completion of Spring 2017.

Portland Japanese Garden in winter - Portland, Oregon

Portland Japanese Garden in winter

Multnomah Falls and Wahkeena Falls

Multnomah Falls is a forty-minute drive from either Downtown Portland or Portland International Airport (PDX). The drive is worthwhile especially since it’s one of the few places in the world where one can drive up to a waterfall. There is no need to hike any trails since the parking lot is a short walk to where you can see the waterfall in its glory. A short non-strenuous walk up to a bridge offers a closer view of the waterfall. In the wintertime you will need to be cautious walking as icy conditions may cause you to loose your footing. A mile away from Multnomah Falls is Wahkeena Falls. The easily accessible part of Wahkeena Falls isn’t as dramatic as Multnomah Falls, but is a more rambling waterfall. Although Wahkeena is not a plunging waterfall the water with the trees and plants is worth a photograph. For more spectacular views of Wahkeena Falls hikers may walk the mile round-trip on the Wahkeena Trail.

Multnomah Falls - Oregon

Multnomah Falls

Wahkeena Falls - Oregon

Wahkeena Falls

Vista House on Crown Point

On the way to Multnomah Falls and Wahkeena Falls be sure to stop at Vista House on Crown Point. This spectacular lookout is located thirty-five minutes from Downtown Portland. Part of the Oregon State Parks, the Vista House has existed since the early 1900s. This observatory is located over 700 feet above the Columbia River and offers breathtaking views. Regardless if the weather is over cast or sunny this location is ideal for photographs. Be advised that if the weather has been extreme, for example too much snow has fallen, Crown Point may be closed off to tourists. On such days call ahead or visit their website to find out if the lookout is open.

Vista House at Crown Point - Oregon

Vista House at Crown Point

View of the Columbia River from Vista House at Crown Point - Oregon

View of the Columbia River from Vista House at Crown Point

 

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Portland, Oregon

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Portland Building: 45.515663, -122.678500
Pearl District: 45.530209, -122.681204
Downtown, Portland: 45.513454, -122.680134
Pioneer Courthouse Square: 45.518300, -122.678905
Chinatown Gates: 45.523512, -122.674157
Washington Park: 45.512640, -122.712736
International Rose Garden: 45.518951, -122.705273
Portland Japanese Garden: 45.519136, -122.706780
Multnomah Falls: 45.576160, -122.115776
Wahkeena Falls: 45.574181, -122.127430
Vista House on Crown Point: 45.539579, -122.244446
Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location): 45.522621, -122.673111
Caffe Vita: 45.522447, -122.672914
Pine State Biscuits: 45.558886, -122.642744
Gaufre Gourmet: 45.521057, -122.680316
KOi Fusion: 45.450419, -122.781197
Lardo: 45.522021, -122.683540
Toro Bravo: 45.540813, -122.663611
Pok Pok: 45.504565, -122.632159
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB): 45.496893, -122.634884
De Ponte Cellars: 45.262715, -123.058269
Domaine Drouhin: 45.265540, -123.055634
WillaKenzie Estate: 45.360877, -123.137926
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Portland Building
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Portland Building, Portland, OR, United States
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Pearl District
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pearl District, Portland, OR, United States
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Downtown, Portland
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Downtown, Portland, OR, United States
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Pioneer Courthouse Square
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR, United States
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Chinatown Gates
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Chinatown Gates Portland, Northwest 4th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Washington Park
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Washington Park, Portland, OR, United States
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International Rose Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

International Rose Test Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Portland Japanese Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Portland Japanese Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Multnomah Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Multnomah Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Wahkeena Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Vista House on Crown Point
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Vista House, Historic Columbia River Highway, Corbett, OR, United States
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Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Voodoo Doughnut, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Caffe Vita
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Caffe Vita, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Pine State Biscuits
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pine State Biscuits Alberta, Northeast Alberta Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Gaufre Gourmet
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Gaufre Gourmet, Southwest 9th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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KOi Fusion
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Washington Square, Southwest Washington Square Road, Portland, OR, United States
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Lardo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Lardo, Southwest Washington Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Toro Bravo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Toro Bravo, Northeast Russell Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Pok Pok
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pok Pok, Southeast Division Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Hopworks Urban Brewery, Southeast Powell Boulevard, Portland, OR, United States
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De Ponte Cellars
Eat Your Way Through Portland
De Ponte Cellars, Northeast Archery Summit Road, Dayton, OR, United States
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Domaine Drouhin
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dayton, OR, United States
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WillaKenzie Estate
Eat Your Way Through Portland
WillaKenzie Estate, Northeast Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR, United States

 

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Portland: Keeping it Normal

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"Put a Bird on It" (from the IFC show Portlandia) - Bird wallpaper found in a Portland hotel - Portland, Oregon

“Put a Bird on It” (quote from the IFC show Portlandia) – Bird wallpaper found in a Portland hotel

 

In the Pacific Northwest region of the United States is the city of Portland, in the state of Oregon. If your only experience of Portland is the IFC show Portlandia you may have a skewed perception of the city. The city’s unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird” and Portlandia does a good job of depicting Portland as a weird city. Portlandia’s characters in various sketches range from cultist organic farmers to cranky feminist bookstore owners to those who put a bird on everything. Tourists who’ve watched the show Portlandia before heading to Portland for the first time may think they will enter a land of misfits once they arrive.

Pioneer Square - Portland, Oregon

Buildings surrounding Pioneer Square

The truth is first time visitors will find Portland quirky, charming, and nuanced. The city itself is clean with air that is refreshing, albeit sometimes breezy. Portland exudes scenery everywhere being surrounded by the best nature offers in this part of the world. Besides nature the city is a foodie paradise. Restaurants offer top-notch cuisine and a plethora of food trucks stationed throughout the city will make sure you will always have a sumptuous bite to eat. For lovers of food and nature Portland will find a special place in your heart.

Portlandia statue on the Portland Building - Portland, Oregon

Portlandia statue on the Portland Building

Beyond the food and nature Portland’s city itself does not boast many sights. This works for the city because travelers can just enjoy being in the city and not rushing off trying to knock of a laundry list of sights. Of the sights within the city tourists will want to visit the Portland Building. The statue in front of the Portland Building is named Portlandia. It is this statue’s name from which the Portlandia show borrows its name and the statue is seen in the show’s opening credits. Besides the Portland Building visitors can spend the day in trendy shopping areas such as those found in the Pearl District and Downtown. The streets in these areas are not bustling with crowds, and the wide avenues make for a nice stroll. While in Downtown visit Pioneer Courthouse Square. This urban park holds a variety of events and is a perfect place to people watch.

Pioneer Courthouse - Portland, Oregon

Pioneer Courthouse

To stay at a hotel in the Downtown district of Portland means walking access to the shopping areas around Pioneer Courthouse Square. You will be able to walk to various food truck stands within the city limits. Besides shopping and food within walking distance is Portland’s Chinatown and Washington Park. Within Washington Park you will find the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden.

Chinatown Gates - Portland, Oregon

Chinatown Gates

To experience more of Portland and the surrounding landscape you will need to rent a car. A rental car will expand the number of restaurants available for you to try as many great restaurants are in the districts outside of Downtown. Having a rental car will allow you the freedom to explore nature spots accessible by car. Within driving distance are two waterfalls, Multnomah Falls and Wahkeena Falls. You can drive to the Vista House on Crown Point for scenic views of the Columbia River. Fans of wine will want to use that rental car to visit the various near by wineries.

Whatever you plan to do on your trip to Portland just remember, you are in the Pacific Northwest. If you travel to this region during the wintertime the weather will be low with a chance for snow. Even during the spring and summer times the weather may be brisk. Check the weather reports before you travel so your clothing choices won’t impede you enjoying your trip.

 

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Portland, Oregon

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Portland Building: 45.515663, -122.678500
Pearl District: 45.530209, -122.681204
Downtown, Portland: 45.513454, -122.680134
Pioneer Courthouse Square: 45.518300, -122.678905
Chinatown Gates: 45.523512, -122.674157
Washington Park: 45.512640, -122.712736
International Rose Garden: 45.518951, -122.705273
Portland Japanese Garden: 45.519136, -122.706780
Multnomah Falls: 45.576160, -122.115776
Wahkeena Falls: 45.574181, -122.127430
Vista House on Crown Point: 45.539579, -122.244446
Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location): 45.522621, -122.673111
Caffe Vita: 45.522447, -122.672914
Pine State Biscuits: 45.558886, -122.642744
Gaufre Gourmet: 45.521057, -122.680316
KOi Fusion: 45.450419, -122.781197
Lardo: 45.522021, -122.683540
Toro Bravo: 45.540813, -122.663611
Pok Pok: 45.504565, -122.632159
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB): 45.496893, -122.634884
De Ponte Cellars: 45.262715, -123.058269
Domaine Drouhin: 45.265540, -123.055634
WillaKenzie Estate: 45.360877, -123.137926
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Portland Building
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Portland Building, Portland, OR, United States
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Pearl District
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pearl District, Portland, OR, United States
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Downtown, Portland
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Downtown, Portland, OR, United States
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Pioneer Courthouse Square
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR, United States
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Chinatown Gates
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Chinatown Gates Portland, Northwest 4th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Washington Park
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Washington Park, Portland, OR, United States
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International Rose Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

International Rose Test Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Portland Japanese Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Portland Japanese Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Multnomah Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Multnomah Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Wahkeena Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Vista House on Crown Point
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Vista House, Historic Columbia River Highway, Corbett, OR, United States
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Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Voodoo Doughnut, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Caffe Vita
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Caffe Vita, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Pine State Biscuits
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pine State Biscuits Alberta, Northeast Alberta Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Gaufre Gourmet
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Gaufre Gourmet, Southwest 9th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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KOi Fusion
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Washington Square, Southwest Washington Square Road, Portland, OR, United States
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Lardo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Lardo, Southwest Washington Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Toro Bravo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Toro Bravo, Northeast Russell Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Pok Pok
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pok Pok, Southeast Division Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Hopworks Urban Brewery, Southeast Powell Boulevard, Portland, OR, United States
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De Ponte Cellars
Eat Your Way Through Portland
De Ponte Cellars, Northeast Archery Summit Road, Dayton, OR, United States
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Domaine Drouhin
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dayton, OR, United States
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WillaKenzie Estate
Eat Your Way Through Portland
WillaKenzie Estate, Northeast Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR, United States

 

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