A Travellerspoint blog

Introducing: "Gentleman Adventurer"

Travel "Grand Tour" Style ... Mostly 4x4 Overland ... to Danger, Adventure and Conflict Zones ... Inhaling Lead, Dust and Cuban Cigars ... in the Best Hotels ... Fighting for Facts vs Fears ... Collecting Countries (191+) and "Les Emotions Fortes"

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On top of the world with my favourite travel book ;-) "I've been everywhere"
Buy here at Amazon

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DISCLAIMER: This is the PG18-VERSION of my travels, for the "big boys". My other blog Luxury Rogue features mainly "grande dame" hotels. Do not read this TRAVEL DIARY if you suffer from tall-poppy-syndrome, crabs in the bucket, jante's law, or other conventional wisdom. Everyone else, VERY WELCOME, and feel free to contact me at luxuryrogue-1@yahoo.de or follow this blog via the subscribe button on the right. (ca. 100.000 page views p.a.)

"Geese walk together. The eagle soars alone." Peter Sederowsky
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Welcome ... to the other side !
(foto taken in Bhutan, the gross happiness dictatorship)

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Take your time for some really special places ...
(here: Hotel Arena City, Grozny, Chechnya)

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... and constant reality checks ...
(here: Magadan, Russia)

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... from completely different viewpoints.
(here: Checkpoint Charlie, occupied Berlin)

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Starting at The Royal Horseguards Hotel in London with a particular history from World War I to James Bond location.

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Happy to be featured in the "Hall of Fame" of Most Traveled People

and - with hotel reviews in more countries than anyone else - as TripAdvisor Nr. 1 Explorer

and in Jorge Sanchez' new book "Meetings with Remarkable Travelers"

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“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." Steve Jobs
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Nation states cover the planet's entire land surface, except for the Terra Nullius parts of Antarctica and the unclaimed area of Bir Tawil between Egypt and Sudan.*

My goal is to visit all 193 countries on the United Nations list www.un.org/en/members/

and all 206 states on the List of Sovereign States www.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states

then most of the 320 places listed by the Traveler's Century Club www.TravelersCenturyClub.org,

and the 872 items on Charles Veley's list www.MostTraveledPeople.com

and the 1221 regions on Harry Mitsidis' list www.TheBestTravelled.com.

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With the World's Most Traveled People Charles Veley (USA), Jorge Sanchez (Spain) and Wolfgang Stoephasius (German FBI) at our Club Meeting in Munich.

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The concept of a country is not as clear as we sometimes think. (Source / Foto: Geopolitical Anomalities).

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I always travel in style, even in rough places, but with minimum (hand-) luggage only.

Seeing reality beyond TV and meeting people with powerful stories drives me forward.

On the way, I collect my trophies: the world's most charismatic hotels.

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In the Footsteps of Treasure Hunter Howard Carter at the Winter Palace in Luxor, Egypt

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A different winter palace near the Nordkapp at Igloo Hotel Sorrisniva, Alta, Norway

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Early on, I learned to enjoy the history and social magnetism of "Grande Dame" hotels in major capitals.

Then I started loving the aesthetic experience of Ian Schrager Hotels, Hip Hotels and Designhotels.

The serenity and service of the Amanhotels in Bali addicted me to become an "Amanjunkie".

Adventure lust took me further to Wilderness Safaris, Explora, Oberoi, Taj, CC Africa & Beyond.

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A Hideaway from Drug Cartels and Active Volcanoes at (former Amanhotel) Hacienda San Antonio, Colima, Mexico

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My ultimate joy, however, became reaching the refuge, social intensity and relative luxury of hideouts in conflict zones.

As collector of hospitality experiences and connoisseur of "les émotions fortes" all over the planet, please see my

"Spy - War - Dangerzone Hotels"

"Trophy Hotels"

"Formula 1 Hotels"

"James Bond Hotels"

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At the Grozny City Hotel, a skyscraper with 33 floors, in Chechnya

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"It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Abraham Lincoln
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With Libyan Freedom Fighters in front of the Tibesti Hotel in Benghazi (Arab Spring, May 2011)

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Room with a view at a "top address": Atlantis Beach Hotel, United Nations Drive, Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia

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Heavy (!) Security at the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria Qasr al-Sharq in Jeddah (Note: me in WHITE shirt ;-)

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At war-famous Holiday Inn Sarajevo, Respublika Srpska, Bosnia-Hercegovina (built for the 1984 Winter Olympics) with America's most dangerous man (for the girls) Craig

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Check-In at Hotel Renaissance (formerly Royal Oak) in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan

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No ride with the hotel Rolls Royce, but with Donald Rumsfeld in the elevator of the Sheraton Batumi, Adjaria. Without bodyguards he glanced at me like a "known unknown", certainly not like "irrelevant Old Europe".

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New countries, new hotels ... here in Juba, capital of South Sudan (2011) ... a Grand Hotel made from containers.

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Old systems, cold hotels: the largest building above the Polar Circle ... Hotel Arctic in Murmansk, Russia. A closed city during the Cold War.

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Some hotels are magnets for the grand realities of life. A former art installation at the unique 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

"In war, truth is the first casualty." Aeschylus

"History is a set of lies agreed upon ... by the winners." Napoleon Bonaparte

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My personal Watergate (Washington, 2012). A hotel photo that couldn't be missing on this blog ...

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Favourite Hotel Groups:

Red Carnation Hotels
Dorchester Collection

Sofitel Legends
Orient-Express Hotels

Sol Kerzner and his former Sun Int. Hotels
Michel Reybier Hotels

Serena Hotels (Africa & Central Asia)
Operation Loango (Africa)

Amanhotels (Asia-Pacific only)
Victoria Hotels (South-East Asia)

Real Hotels and Resorts (Central America)
Grupo Habita (Mexico)

"Wherever you go, try to stay at the most famous hotel!" Aristoteles Onassis

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Enjoying the taste of revolution at the Habanos cigar shop in Cuba's flagship Hotel Nacional

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Sitting in the lobby of the local Grande Dame hotel with a "Romeo & Julieta" cigar,

I like to meet people with powerful stories, learn from their first-hand accounts

and to capture the spirit of places ...

In particular, I want to get my own view on cultures, countries and conflicts without any distortions.

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Voodoo valet service at the most charismatic of all dangerzone hotels, the Oloffson in Haiti

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One of the benefits of MTP "country collecting" is to learn about the existence of "unrecognized" territories, like

Transnistria, Gagauzia, Adjaria, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Nakhcevan, Karakalpakastan, Gorno-Badakhshan, Aksay Chin, Azawad, Sahrawi, Ambazonia, Somaliland, Puntland, Cabinda, ...

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... Palestine - not to forget ...
(here at the Bethlehem border "fence")

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... and to test the accuracy of Western media reports or official travel warnings about so-called "dangerous places.-

Good article by Jonny Bealby in "The Telegraph" (please click): Some travelers are "sceptical of media reporting and need to see things for themselves. "

"If you don't read the newspaper, you 're un-informed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed." Mark Twain

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Putting things in perspective: all maps are political statements and usually paint Europe much too big - and in the center - whereas the Southern Hemisphere - in particular Africa - looks too small. Well, what should we have expected from 16th century Dutchman Gerard de Kremer, a.k.a. Mercator, whose "nationalistic" map projection was gladly reproduced by the British Empire and is still the most common view of the world today. The Peter's Map (above) from 1974 is not perfect either, but the sizes - not shapes - of countries are certainly much closer to reality:

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"Foreign aid is a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries." Douglas Casey

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Travel Warning: The Foreign Office advises against overland drives, in particular at night ...
(here at a roadblock near the Zambia - Zaire border)

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... or in rather shady neighbourhoods ...
(here in Central Angola)

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... or through the red light districts ...
(here Western Sahara)

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... even if you ... and your car ... are experienced travelers.
(here in Malawi)

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Stay alive. Don't drink and drive !
(here a "Vodka Kalashnikov" in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, Russian Caucasus)

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And consume distances with moderation.
(here in Central Siberia)

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Traveler advice: Keep your doors locked at all times ...
(here with German 007 friend Gundolf in the Caprivi-Strip)

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... especially at drive-thru restaurants ...
(here in the Okavango Delta) see 2nd foto with crocs on the right

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... or other predator feeding grounds ...
(here near Johannesburg)

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... and avoid picking someone up at the roadside.
(here: South Sudan) 2 own fotos

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"If you are not at the table you will be part of the menu" ... one of my favourite sayings

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Official announcement: Do not leave your luggage unattended !
(here in Guinea-Bissau)

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Store your valuables in a safe place ...
(here in Fort Knox, Kentucky)

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... and always obey the law ...
(here between Laredo and Monterrey in Northern Mexico)

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... and its various enforcement agencies ...
(here between Grozny and Gudermes in the Northern Caucasus)

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... even if it's the law of the jungle ...
(here in Metropolis ...)

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... unless you are a Superhero yourself ...
(... Superman's hometown in Illinois)

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... or believe in other American fairy tales.

(here: one of the many billboards between Houston and Laredo, Texas)

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"If you wonder who is in power, ask yourself who you must not criticise." Confucius

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Be vigilant: Don't talk to strangers ...
(here: Nagorno-Karabakh)

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... don't underestimate the power of stupid political ideas ...
(here: the Mask of Sorrow at the end of the Kolyma Highway / "Road of Bones" in Russian Siberia)

"The state is the coldest of all beasts" Friedrich Nietzsche

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... especially avoid politically incorrect subjects like gender, guns (spot the AK-47), length of spears or club membership.
(here in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia)

"Envy is the driving force behind democracy" unknown

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Danger: Protect yourself from IEDs, RPGs, STDs, second hand smoke and sunburn ...
(here in Beirut, source: lebanonmatters.com)

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... and understand false flag operations.
(here on a Mossad vessel with a UNESCO World Heritage Site inspector in ancient Phoenician waters. Sic!)

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Prepare for medical emergencies ...
(here in a Sofitel (!) shuttle bus in the USA ... "Body Fluid Clean-Up Kit" ... Hello Dominique Strauss-Kahn !)

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... especially if you travel armed.
(here in Cu Chi, Cambodia)

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"I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed!” William Shakespeare

"Only Neanderthals resort to violence. I prefer crushing one's spirit, hope, or ego.” John Lefevre (@GSelevator)

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Surgeon general warning: anti-smoking laws prevent the use of cigarettes as a reserve currency, if all other moneys go up in smoke. And they seriously endanger your quality of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

"Any society that would give up a little freedom to gain a little safety will lose both." Benjamin Franklin

"The happy slaves are the most grim enemies of freedom !" Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire

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Security alert orange: these waters are treacherous. Don't get caught waterboarding in a rogue wave off Guantanamo Beach.
(here however at the Dagahaley Refugee Camp, Kenya/Somalia)

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Better safe than sorry: Immediately report suspicious behaviour to the military-industrial-complex.
(here in Luxor)

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Tread carefully: there's wild animals flat out ...
(here in the Brazilian Amazon)

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... even in unexpected places ...
(here with a resident lion in an oligarch's office in Moscow)

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... and even where idiots killed almost all of them ...
(here with Bisons near Bialystok, North-Eastern Poland)

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... but don't worry about punching above your weight ... mosquitos are the most dangerous animals ...
(here with Heavyweight Worldchampion Wladimir Klitschko and Sheikh Maktoum's hunting falcon in a UAE desert camp)

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... and most other beings are rather peaceful ...
(here a sealion day-guest at the Hotel Solymar on the Galapagos Islands)

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... or helpful ...
(here with sled dogs in Svalbard)

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... and they will be happy to show you the planet's secrets ...
(here at the Giza Pyramids in Egypt)

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... so let big hoofs dance to your flute, not vice versa !
(here with "Mr. Boom Chop", the resident white king buffalo at my overall favourite hotel, the
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Golden Triangle, Thailand)

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"Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Anatole France

"As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will always be battlefields"[b] Leo Tolstoy

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Use common sense: try to blend in with the locals ...
(here in Dakota ... pardon me ... Dagestan)

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... always dress to the occasion ...
(here in Colombia with a tailormade bulletproof vest)

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... even if it's -62 °C ...
(here near the "Pole of Cold" in Oymyakon, Sakha Republic - Yakutia, Russia)

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... and - believe me - "global warming" is caused entirely by visual pollution - from badly dressed people.
(here my favourite road sign in Monaco)

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[b]"The secret of life lies in the search for beauty" Oscar Wilde

"L'enfer, c'est les autres" Jean-Paul Sartre

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Government warning: Beware of barely roadworthy cars ...
(here at the Uma Paro Hotel in Bhutan)

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... and crazy local drivers.
(here: in Autobahnistan)

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My favourite warning sign was in a German rent-a-car:
"Caution. Winter Tyres. Max. 240 km/h."

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Respect is always a good security concept ...
(here: Somalia)

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... especially when crossing propaganda faultlines.
(here at the Panmunyon border to North Korea)

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Being a lucky bastard is helpful too ...
(here with my love in Marrakech)

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...
(here in Berlin with Helmut Kohl - who really is larger than life, and Michail Gorbatschow - who didn't know much about his former empire's geography. On the far left: Senator Ralph Burkei who tragically died during the Mumbai terror attack at the Taj Mahal Hotel.)

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... although I personally prefer preparation over stretching my luck ...
(here at the Voodoo Fetish Market in Lomé, Togo)

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... and flying too high risks burning your wings.
(here at the Derveze Gas Crater in the Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan, burning since 1971)

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Think twice about travel insurance:
(here with legendary GSG 9 founder Ulrich Wegener, who rescued the hijacked Lufthansa jet in Mogadishu 1977)

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... nothing beats good contacts ...
(here with best friend Harald at President Kadyrov's Palace in Chechnya)

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... especially friends in the right places ...
(here: MI6 Headquarters, London)

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... at the right moment in time ...
(here with Charles Taylor's former minister, ambassador and warlord "Col. Mao Mao" at the Liberia - Sierra Leone border)

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... with the right stature ...
(here with Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in Istanbul)

"They tried to grab me by the balls, but their hands weren't big enough!" Bernie Ecclestone

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... but - remember - a smile remains your most valuable weapon.
(here with Adnan Kashoggi in Rome)

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Full stop.
(here at the Dadaab Refugee Camps, Kenya/Somalia)

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"The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever." Anatole France

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Please click here for TABLE OF CONTENT of all my trips or below for next page ...

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Posted by LuxuryRogue 23:22 Archived in Monaco Tagged overland adventure luxury danger speed

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