Waterfall Hill Climbing Trip (my first aspect on Verticality)

Waterfall Hill Rock Trip from 1st to 3rd Oct 2010.

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  Acknowledgements

To the unrivalled lord Buddha, Head of the Monk and Monk U Oaktama from waterfall hill monastery. And our respected Saya Myo,the president of MUHM who gives the permission and a lot of supporting for the trip, and our kind hearted teachers, Steve and Dean , without you climbing will be a dream for us. We are grateful to all with our respected hearts.

Steve born for climbing in Myanmar, makes our dreams come true to the vertical world. His maturity, outdoor experiences, guidance, encouragements and efforts “to be able to climb” will be never forgotten. We appreciate so much for let us accompanying the Rock trip and great climbing instructions and teachings.

Dean, our beloved instructor who ties us with the rope works. Without his helpful hand with the knots, we won’t be able to climb. His knots are really really useful in all activities especially climbing. We will never forget your knots, your great presentation skills, open and friendly personality and really appreciate about that.

Friends, thank you all knowingly or unknowingly, inspired us and contributes us for climbing sport, especially our beloved sister Ma Zagawa,the foods and pocket money for us and her worries for our first climbing. And the friends from Mandalay, Ma Q , Nga Yu & YiLe for their hospitality as good host in Mandalay and Kyaw Kyaw for gears and Ko Minn Aung who help us via mobile phone in early morning. Thank you guys.

The Beginning

A cloudy evening of Yangon in May 2010, I was waiting in a hotel lobby and exciting by wondering how the climber is looks like, may be a big man with strong arms or something else. Actually I am waiting for Steve who is a climber from U.S by reading the newspapers. And I heard a very friendly voice “Hello Doe Lone “ and I saw a well built with  a thin body of a lil bit old man raising his hand and step towards me, greets warmly with smile. I feel and sure that “Oh it’s gonna be Mr.Steve” and say hello and I noticed that his nice movements of walk and I’m sure he’s a strong climber. It’s our first meeting in person after several mails between us for climbing sport. He is nearly close to back U.S but he welcome us for climbing and to link with a friend of him, Dean also a climber who is now working for Child Right in Myanmar. We meet with Dean at his resident and heading to have some beers and BBQ and talked about climbing. Two climbers discussing a lot about Mental of climbing and I’m a good listener with some questions as I’ve poor English skill. But I got a head full about climbing. I observed that they are open minded and ready to help for climbing sport in Myanmar. For me it’s a great deal to meet with these two climbers, Steve & Dean and I thought that “this is my tribe”. They discussed about climbing in Myanmar and asked some questions. That they have started climbing in Myanmar with some young & talented climbers from Mandalay and carried out and ongoing process of climbing in Myanmar. I am very proud of it and so excited to climb. Every single word enlightened me at that night. And I think that the dreams can be come true.

Preparations

We started rope works with Dean on 8 August 2010, the day of 22nd anniversary of 1988 students’ campaign, at a downtown shopping mall to have a look to under-construction- indoor Climbing wall. It’s not really nice and Dean remarks that “It’s Crazy” coz not a systematic gym with iron rings, no climbing holds and many other factors. We give up for the Gym climbing in Myanmar at that time. The place is not an overcrowded one, but we haven’t got a great time for ropes and knots that some security and several guys check around us. And I noticed that “Oh! It’s sensitive day for the government, HaHa they’re busy for our group of ropes with white guy”.  But we carried on some basic knots for climbing, strength and physical trainings by using homemade stuffs with Dean’s creative way to be ready for us to climb outdoors. Then we had a great chat with our friend Teashop. I noticed his encouragements and good deeds and efforts for us as well as his very nice presentation skills in rope and training lessons. Everything he had said are very useful for us. Than we met 2 more times with our climbing instructor Mr.Dean in different places for advance knots and some tutorials in rope works and climbing. He presented us some movements of climbing by overhanging up the wooden stair- steps of Linn’s garage, and he said a nice place for rope works and training for climbing. We all can get to the point of the lesson and trying to be great at all in knots and physical as we have a good background as at least for me the junior climber of the group even have 5 years of Hiking & Mountaineering for 24 trips including 5 icy mountain trips.

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At that time we all are training for our Mountaineering trip in November by Hiking 7 days a week a long range in weekends and stairs and hill climbing 5 days a week. At the same time we’re training for climbing with pull-up, chin-up, sit-up and some fingers trainings. Big concerns for us were the climbing gears especially climbing shoes. We can’t start any outdoor activities technically although we practiced at some walls and boulders around Yangon. In Yangon there were no more rock walls or indoor gym for climbing. But anyway we’re confident and ready for climbing Physically and Emotionally.When Steve’s back from U.S in mid September we’re very glad to hear that he will go for climbing in Mandalay in last weekend. But we have a training trip in last week of September.It’s a great deal for me to cancel any one of the trips. Hiking & Mountaineering is Daily Vitamin and Climbing is aSpecial Meal for me. I’d had to have my vitamins and also willing to have that Special Meal. All the great things were done by Steve’s helping hands that he changed his schedule to 31 September to 2 October. And also there will be some activities to be held Myanmar Climbing Festival at American Centre in coming January 2011. We’re on cloud nine and you think of how glad we are. So we can join our very first climbing trip to Mandalay.

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Waterfall Hill

Waterfall Hill of Mandalay is around 15 miles east of Mandalay downtown, just 15 minutes drive. You can get there by a taxi, B 600, or scooters from Railway station taxi stand and it’s nearby Waterfall hill golf course. The hill itself is a sacred and religious place with Pagodas, Images in caves and monastic buildings along the trail from the base to the top. It’s  home for wildlife habitats, you can see some jealous monkeys toward climbers, beautiful birds including White Throated Babbler you can only found in Myanmar, wildcats, beware of snakes and boa ect. It is between 1600 to 2200 ft ranging from North to South, parallel with Ayeyarwaddy River and the Sagaing Hill from opposite bank. Hill is shady with big trees but humid as in tropical region. The best temperature are in late October to January. The daytime temperature of there is 28 to 32 ˙C. It was so called Waterfall Hill as it forms waterfalls from downhill by the rainy season, meaning not a year round climbing site, should stay away fin Rainy Season as the Rock is very slippery. Car camping will be the great idea for outdoor recreational moments as you can feel camping or rest at the plenty of monastic building for up to 20 person of group. There are a lot of rock-climbing sites and the most routes can be done with 60m ropes and 20 quickdraws and anchors, as nuts and cams essential and the rock is pretty good for bolting. Note that it’s offers no more clinic and good quality food services. But I’m sure it’s the paradise for outdoor travelers and  Nature lovers such as Hikers, Bikers, Photographers, Bird Watchers and Climbers for their great vacation.
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Crag 1:    Pagoda Crag                                    Difficulty: 5.3 to 5.5

Near “NannMyin” Pagoda (Palace View point Pagoda).It can be easily reach by vehicles as the smooth road ends and off-road ends there. The rock wall for easy starters like us to climb ABCD of Rock-Climbing, good warm up for beginners. It has estimate width 30 ft x 25 ft height. It faces to West offers shady nice climb till 3pm. As it has shady trees, you can still climb on until sunset. Crag 1 has good handholds & footholds also cracks for Hand & Foot jammed, finger holds which stands as the great rock face for the beginners.

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Crag 2:      Teashop Crag or 3 holy crag????                Difficulty:  5.7 to 5.12

( to be named by Steve & Dean )

It can reach from Crag 1 by 15 minutes hike up or ride with Off-Road vehicle for 3 minutes to the hill near “ThaPhannYeik” teashop, which is the junction on the way to “Htoo Ma” cave and on the way up to hill which is off road terrain. Crag 2 faces to NNW( north north west ) serves shady wall from the morning to until noon there’s very very sunny from 1 pm to 3 pm. So the best time for climbing is whole morning and evening but  beware some mosquitoes comes out around 5:30pm or when the sun goes down as it has a big shade and a stream nearby it. This wall is not a virgin one as it was climbed by the honeybee hunters by using top rope by hanging bamboo ladder to fetch the beehives .So should beware of insects like bees and ants and also may be some Venomous Snakes in the Rock Cracks and be take care of trees and old branches when you climb as it can disturb your rope when you climb.

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This is a big one with 60 ft width x 90 ft height wall with 3 routes in common.

  • Where the far right route of Crag 2 is quite easy and can be said more safe for the beginners as it starts with a crack which is smaller to widen to perform the hand jams and elbow jams for the beginners with a lot of excitements with some easy steps of great footholds and hand jams and there’s a small cave to rest at    20 ft from the start. Difficulty may be at most one digit between  5.7 to 5.9.
  • Route from the middle to the far left of Crag 2 is more suitable for the experienced climbers for safety. It offers a little bit of overhang to start climbing from the base of the crag and also some overhangs, cracks and some difficulties up the walls. As it have some constraints and challenges for the fresher climbers, these routes can possibly be said for Tow-digit tiers form 5.10 to 5.12.

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Opening

We left Yangon at 12:15pm on 31st of September by train. We met Steve at main platform at 11:30 and check out his gears especially his Arc’teryx backpack. A friend of usMs.Zagawa come & say good luck for the Rock Trip with her snacks and the lunch boxes for us.The trip started with a big excitements coz the guy with the ticket, Myat is late for the train til 12:10pm. We all are seated at the train and then he arrives and everything calm down. Steve said “This is my first time travelling by the Train in Myanmar. “

Climbing Day 1   at “Crag 1” from 6am to 5:30pm       1st Oct 2010

We putted our feet on Mandalay at 4 am at railway station and wait for some Mandalay climbers at a teashop and we have had our breakfast with Puak Si “Steamed Rice Cake” which looks like a breasts and jokes about that the ogress from Mdy hill offers pair of hers to Buddha in the myth that’s why the Mandalay Pauk Si are so delicious. After several calls to Mandalay climbers, we pick up some gears from Kyaw Kyaw and go straight to the Waterfall Hill and got there at 6 am.Steve, Pyae and gears climbed up the hill to the Crag 1 with the car when we get off from it to say hello to the head of the monk in the monastery at base of the hill. We requested to climb at that sacred and holy hill, and asked for the permission to drill the rock to attach the rock anchors, advocated him for safety in the future of the rock climbers in that zone. He said everything is okay and willing to help. We also asked some spaces to sleep at night up on the hill. The greatest monk helped and gave permission for us to be possible to climb. We will never forget his kind hearted and great helpings.

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Steve starts the Day 1 of climbing at the Crag 1 near Pagoda with some lessons. He taught how to wear the harness, minimum standards of harnessing, follow up after harnessing and checking each others. Then he explained about the gears especially rules for the ropes not to footed on it, always keep it clean and tidy and then tying the rope in climbing knots started with Figure 8. Then he showed us the belay device and how to belay. We practiced on the ground with the ropes one by one and he checked us and give instructions to check always each other before time to climb. Then we tied a rope to a climber and belayer and role practicing in belay process. We really do miss our teacher, instructor and our master of Ropes is Dean that he can’t join us and said  that “What a pity” as he didn’t get holiday for climbing. We do love you & miss you guy. But I’m proud that you are working for our CHILD’S RIGHT even in the weekends. Thanks Dean.

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Than we hiked up to the Crag for the Top Roping lesson. He used a nut to anchor between the rock crack attached with a pear shaped locked carabiner joined with the runner as an anchor 1. Then he taught us to tie a webbing tape rope to the base of the tree as the anchor 2. And then he showed us how to equalize the ropes from the anchor and then he set a locked carabiner at the end of top rope to run the climbing rope. Then he let us do these process and then  he checked and we walked down to the base of Crag to start climbing. It’s looks like Kung-Fu as I’ve seen on the films that Bruce Lee had to wash the clothes and dishes and had to carry the water from the well b4 kung-fu to be ready for it.

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Steve gave us instructions and we have had some stretching out, warming up. He also taught us about choosing and wearing the right ROCK Shoes, and for me is the first time ever in my life with my feet in a pair of Rock climbing shoe, Boreal the purple one. It gave me great feeling and we all were ready to climb.

When we started to climb, Steve taught how to and how important of communication between the climber and the belayer, like “Belay on”, ”On belay”, “Climbing” , “Climb on” , “Rope”, “Slack” ect. Then we enjoyed the great experience of our first morning on the rock wall by climbing and belaying each other under Steve’s surveillance and close instructions. Then he monitored each of us to check each other and he set up top rope for another route. We also enjoyed the new route with hand crack jamming and foot hook and jams when he was looked after us on the top of the Crag 1. We climbed til 1 pm and then break.

OK! It’s time for lunch, we had it with fried egg and bean salad at “ThaPhannYeik”  teashop and have a look to Crag 2 for tomorrow, took some fotos to think of another routes.

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Then we continued climbing. We built a small camp fire for a cup of coffee with dried leaves and sticks of woods for Zero impact on environment, trees might thanks for their essential CO2 for their nutrition process and relese oxygen. At 2 pm the taxi arrives and Steve was back to the city and rest of the team will left on the hill to climb. Steve not allowed to us pay Taxi charges that we’ve gave the driver in Kyats, and he offers it by himself by keeping his words and he gave the dollars in equal amount to us. We can’t refuse him and accepted it. Thanks Steve. You’re the true and great teacher who have offered and willing the best  everything for the pupils. Although we can’t use the Dollars on the hill, we will keep these with our full respected hearts. And the meal with fried eggs is cheap too. “Bye Steve”,before he went , he gave the DVD of climbing to watch out.  

Around 3 pm, sunny spots were going through the shady plants to the rock wall. But, it doesn’t matter for us, we can still climb in shady routes as the sun going as we’re moving.

We climbed the whole afternoon until 5:30 pm with sunset. Monk U Oaktama allowed us to stay at the monastic building which close to the Crag 1 just beside the road and the stairway nearest to the Pagoda. It’s nice accommodation with the scenic view of the twinkle Mandalay city and Golf Course at night. The water and sanitation are perfect at there.

Climbing Day 2   at “Crag 2” from 8:30 am to 6pm       2nd Oct 2010  & “Crag 1” from 8:20 pm to 12pm

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We got up at 6:30 am, some warming up and have had breakfast at the teashop and waited for our climbing Master Steve. He reached us at 8 am as he suffers a motorbike crash and fall up to the hill and got a pain at his right knee. We asked the history of the T-shirt that he wore, Nicros with a word CLIMB at fornt and let us know that he worked at that climbing gym in U.S for years.

At the junction near the teashop, Steve taught us the Butterfly coil to pack on the back of the climber. We repeated again, practice again & again and became better.

Then we walked up to the top of the Crag 2 for Top Roping at the far right route. It  took for 2 hours. Some Big Red Ants annoyed Stave. He murmured “What the F!” It’s hard to tie a rope for an anchor, and also to equalize. At 10:30 everything had well done and prepared to climb. We were going to climb at 11 am by climber Phyo and belayer Fuji after some warm up and stretch outs, counter check between the two of them. After checked by Steve, it’s time to “Climb on”. He climbed 75% of the far right route which started with hand-knee jams and foot jams ect. He was rappelled  down from the cliff  to the bottom as some injury of his eyes from the sand & dust from the trees. When he safely reach to the ground and we rest climbing for a while.

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Wow it’s a new and obvious lesson at 11:30 am, bolting.  He brought a Bosch Hammer Drill, a lot of expansion bolts and Torque Wrench. Then he taught us to bolt, picking out his Hammer to test and knocked the rock, listening the sound from the rock , when all perfect, he started to Drill. It was very sophisticated and very very important as the life depends on the anchors and must be a safe & reliable anchor. He used a pipe to blow off the dust from the hole and then  I tried to drill. Then he tightened the head of the bolt with 25 pounds of Torque Wrench and placing the anchor. A hard rain was fallen upon us at 12:15, so we picked up our gears in hurry. Only one anchor was well done.

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Then we have our lunch at teashop with Spicy Chili and Tomato, Chicken Fried ,Chicken & Eggs Curry, Steve said “what a great meal” and remarked  me that “Hey you can eat a lot”. And it’s the right time to open wine and whisky in this cool and rainy moment. Steve told us that he never drinks when he climb and right now he’s not gonna climb. After lunch a leisure for us , play guitar and have a chat about climbing, he explained about the gears, the names and usages of them.

Steve leave from the teashop at 3 pm to Mandalay that he will take a flight back to Yangon tomorrow on Sunday as he have an important works on Monday. We decided to climb one more day and ask him to climb when he’s gone. “ It’s ok, but be safe” he said. On the way down to the base of the hill, the weather was fine, the rain stopped and sunny. Me & Linn accompanied with him to the car he ordered to the base of the hill. We say good bye at 3:25 pm to Steve who wish “Good luck” for us and also gave a parting speech “enjoy climbing, BE SAFE!”   

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      Then we hiked up to Crag 2, the rest of our friends were started to climb on though the rock is slippery and the rope is wet and gained stretching factor. We have had a lot of attempt and some falls as Steve told us “climb until fall”. But rope stretch out so much so we spot each other at the start of climbing. We could climb up at least 50% to 75% of the wall in our second ascent and third ascent and then we satisfied with that figure at a beginner level and enjoyed climbing til 6 pm safely.

At 8:20pm we back to the monastery after dinner and take a break and restarted bouldering at the Crag 1. It’s nice bouldering moments at night with headlamps. We enjoyed bouldering and photographing til 12 midnight.

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Climbing Day 3   at “Crag 2” from 8:30 am to 6pm       3rd Oct 2010

We all woke up at 7 am. In this morning, a friend from Yangon , a pro-photographer who was now in Mandalay for a while was joining with us. We had our breakfast at 8 am with delicious Tea and Shan Noodle that he brought. Then Linn,Pyae and me climbed up to set a new top-rope for the middle route. It took for 2 hours from 8:40 to 10:45 am as there is a bamboo ladder on the way down of the rope to the base. Then Myat started to climb with belayer Fuji. We all obey the rules of Steve have said so we were enjoy safe climb with fun. The middle route was hard for us as it started with an overhang and nobody made to start that mid route, but we started with the far right crack and then we traversed to the middle and climbed on. Then LinnPyae and me tried the mid route and can’t make it so we choose the far right start and traversing to middle route.

Then today’s visitors, Photographer Ko Aung Myoe and his friend who is a business man Ko Kyaw started their first attempt to climb. They passed the crag and satisfy climbing and say good bye to us & back to Yangon.

Then second attempt of climber Myat followed the same route, he is strong guy with nice movements reached to 60% of the Crag 2 and then he exhausted fall and hanging in the air. We got him and he’s fine and take a break. It was 1pm, so we went for lunch. Then Fuji climb and he also fell. With belayer Myat, Climber Linn restarted to climb on sunny hot rocks wearing sunglasses carrying umbrella and a water bottle. He climbed on 60% of crag 2 and left his valuable watch in the rock crack before he coming down. Then “Pyae” climbed and brought it back for Linn. Fuji and I climbed it and we stopped at 4 pm coz we had to back to Mandalay. When Fuji and Myat hiked up the hill to untie and keep the top-ropes, rest of the climbers pack the gears and wait for them by bouldering the overhangs around Crag 2 have fun.

We back to the monastery near Crag 1, pack the gears and offer the donations and gave our respects to Monk U Oaktama of the monastery. And then we walked down the base of the Water Fall hill and gave our respecta to the head of the monk. Then we tried to hire a car and got a truck to back to Mandalay. At 6:30 pm, the time to say good bye Waterfall Hill and happy ending of our Rock Trip. We shouted towards the hill to Say good bye and said in chorus :    ”We will be back.”

 

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The moments in Mandalay …..A night in Mandalay       3, Oct, 2010.

Linn and Pyae took the train on 9:45pm and back to Yangon. Myat, Fuji and Ileft in Mandalay to meet Mandalay climbers. We rest at Hotel Sunrise. Some of the MDY climbers Nga Yu, YiLe and Ma Q (who weren’t active today) come and meet us. We haven’t seen the active climbers on that night. We would like to meet with them to give back the gears and wanna have some chat about climbing.

The whole day in Mandalay     4, Oct, 2010.

We gave a call to MDY climbers to meet and wait at the Hotel and go around downtown for shopping and some interesting places. We met with YiLe and Ma Qand have a dinner with them. We called and wait the MDY climbers the whole day in Mandalay. With the help of them we got to busy Kyaw Kyaw’s home, I met him and give back the gears (listed below). We were flexible and there’s nothing to blame anyone about everything else in Mandalay. But we really wanna meet the climbers. Then at a tea shop, we had a chat with the friends from MDY that we’d met on several Mountaineering trips,( Ko Naung Htaik, Myo Khaing ) before we took the train at 9:45 pm. Thanks everyone. And say good bye to all the friends from Mandalay, the city and our heart of climbing, Waterfall Hill.

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Conclusion

  • The climbing site “Waterfall Hill” is great as its easy approach from the Mandalay city with  convenience transportation and accommodation.It can be establish as the first climbing site in Myanmar and many other sites to be continued.
  • To form it, need to set up anchors along the climbing routes, and follow-up groups for maintenance and anchor replacement for safety and sustainable.
  • For the improvement of Hiking & Mountaineering sport in Myanmar, we need more technical assistant in Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing & Mountaineering.
  • Our climbing policy is freestyle with non-discrimination, but one thing is to love climbing.
  • We will try to find out boulders to practice & search the climbing site around Yangon too.
  • After the WFH Roc-Trip, all of us are daring to say that “We are Climbers”.

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Aside | This entry was posted in History, Myanmar, Rock Climbing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Waterfall Hill Climbing Trip (my first aspect on Verticality)

  1. Ahr Nay says:

    Hi, this is a very interesting article and exciting reading on it! I also believe that water fall hill is a perfect outdoor place in middle MYANMAR 🙂 ………You can do alot there….climbing, mountaineering, hiking, biking, horse riding, snare running, caving, bird watching and so on….

  2. Phoe Mu says:

    Ok lets go again and make our dream to be come true 🙂

  3. Nick says:

    Hi! Is it possible for other travellers to climb at Waterfall Hill? I’m currently in Mandalay and was wondering if there is someone I can contact to belay and be a guide and if there is somewhere to rent equipment from? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Mate, Gald that you shows the interest in Myanmar Climbing, please contact TCCM for Gears, you can rent from TCCM, and TCCM climbers are the one who bolted the Crags in Waterfall Hill Mandalay https://www.facebook.com/pages/Technical-Climbing-Club-of-Myanmar/216240651791928
      Currently , TCCM team is really busy in preparation for the Second Highest Summit in Southeast Asia ( as well as in Myanmar) Gamlang Razi Expedition, 5850 meter. So I’m afraid the HR shortage, but please send message to TCCM page, they will try to help you out to BELAY ON 🙂 CHEERS MATE ……..
      CLIMB ON

  4. Heyhey!
    Here is Jana! I’m coming with a friend to do rock climbing at the waterfall hill after tomorrow, the 21st January 2017. We are experianced climbers! I” from Switzerland and Carl is from Sweden. Any climbers around there to help us out to find the walls and to share climbing?

    We would be very happy to meet local climbers and share good climbing moments!

    Hope to hear from you!

    Jana

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