Gold Coast – Australia

Day 1

The other week (on the 18th of March 2016 for future reference) my boyfriend and I flew out from New Zealand to head to the sunny Sunshine Coast in Australia.20160318_100827 New Zealand is getting quite cold at the moment so it was good to head somewhere that still had some hot weather!

The reason we went to Brisbane was because my Mum was going over to see her Mum who lives in a nursing home on the Sunshine Coast. My mum is Australian so tries to go over as often as she can to see her brothers and their families too.
My Nana is in a wheelchair as she had a stroke many years ago so my mother hired a wheelchair mobility car from Europcar and drove her around for a week taking her shopping, out to eat and to go and see where they grew up etc.

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My boyfriend and I decided to go over and join them for the weekend. We couldn’t say no to some free accommodation and nice weather 😄

Our flight left Wellington at 6.30am on Friday morning and we got to Brisbane about 7.45am. (About a 3 hour 20 minute flight)
My boyfriend got angry at me the night before because we had to get up at 3am and I was mucking about packing my bag and downloading some music for my Ipod until 12am. Woops!
We flew Virgin Australia and the flight was really smooth. I tried to sleep but I was wearing contacts so they kept getting too dry and hurting my eyes. (Other Contact Lense wearers will know what I go through)

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When we landed in Brisbane, we took a shuttle an hours drive to where my Mum and older brother were staying. Whenever she’s in Birsbane, Mum hires out this Holiday Home type thing at these units across the road from my Nana’s nursing home. I’m not sure how much they cost but it’s a pretty big place. I think ours had like 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen and dining area, as well as access to the main Pool and BBQ’s.

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Sorry these pictures aren’t the best quality – I took them off the website

When we’d arrived and said Hello to everyone, I accompanied N for a swim in the pool to cool off. (Well he swum, I sat in the shade and watched)
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I was keen to do some shopping after that so all of us (Boyfriend, Mum, Brother, Nana and Aunt) headed off to the Sunshine Plaza to look around the shops.
I was very spoilt and my lovely Mother gave me some Australian dollars so I could buy some MAC Foundation and some Sunglasses as I forgot to bring some!!!
Which I was really annoyed about because I have so many pairs at home.Sunshine Plaza Centre InfoOnce we’d shopped, we went to the grocery store to get some stuff for our family dinner that night. We ended up having a BBQ with burgers, sausages, a potato salad I made and yummy desserts from my Aunt Sylvia.
I think me and N stayed up until around 9pm chatting away to everyone and talking to Sylvia’s daughter and her husband about life in Australia. N’s a builder and I’m wanting to do Flight Attending so we were asking about the job opportunities and stuff there. It’d be nice to live in Australia at some stage I think. Even if Alcohol is super expensive!

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Nana loves to play her Skip-Bo card game

We had a bit of an early night that night as we’d only had a few hours sleep the previous night and we were getting up early the next morning to drive to the Gold Coast with my Mum and Brother.

Day 2 (Saturday)

We left the house around 7.30am and drove to Brisbane Airport to drop off the Mobility Car my Mum had hired for my Nana.
As we were switching the cars over and picking up a new car to drive to the Gold Coast, it ended up taking foreveeeer at the Europcar Counter at the Airport. There were only 2 people on the desk and it seemed like everyone was there at the same time dropping off cars and getting new ones. The people in line in front of us said they’d been waiting for over an hour!
I did feel sorry for the Customer Service people as they did seem very frazzled and under pressure.
Eventually we got our Toyota Corolla that I got to drive (Yay!)
And for a nana-looking car, it was so nice to drive! Verrry smooth. It made me want to buy one haha.

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This isn’t an actual picture of the car I drove, just a copy off Google 🙂

It took about an hour to drive to the Gold Coast and as we only had a few days in Australia, we all went to Sea World for our first Theme Park Stop!
If you’re ever going to Australia with kids, The Gold Coast is the place to be as it has 2 different Water Parks, Sea World, Dream World and Movie World!
I got a Groupon Deal for all of us so we could go to Sea World, Movie World and Wet & Wild for $99 each (Usually about $89 per adult per park)

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LrMobile2903-2016-090950809412121307Being honest, Sea World is probably more interesting for younger kids. (Like 12 years and younger)
They have a Nickelodeon Character Meet & Greet, The Affinity Dolphin Show (Which we saw first), Sponge-bob in 3D, A Fish Detectives Show involving Sea Lions and a Dora The Explorer Stage Show.

There’s 2 water rides which we quite enjoyed, but got soaked on!
It’s called The Storm Coaster and it’s basically like a short roller coaster that you go really fast on and then through this big spray of water. The other water ride is the Viking Revenge Flume that’s all-ages. Even my Mum went on that one and she hates rides!

20160319_11363720160319_113641I think we spent around 2-3 hours at Sea World. Just going on the Storm Coaster, watching the Dolphin Show, looking at the Penguins, Sharks and Polar Bears and having something to eat.

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When we were done at Sea World, we went to a nearby park/water area to have a small picnic with my Mum’s brother and his wife and grown-up kids. It was a long time since i’d seen them all and it was the first time my boyfriend was meeting my Australian family.
I met my cousin’s kids as well so it was quite a family affair haha.

20160319_163827It started to cloud over and get a bit cold so we eventually headed off to our accommodation – Montego Sands Holiday Apartments.
Which was surprisingly quite nice. The pool was small and a bit average, and the whole place was pretty quiet but the rooms were decent size, the bathrooms were big and our apartment had a small kitchen, 2 balconies, 2 bathrooms and me and N even got our own en-suite with a big bath!

montego-sands-resort-mermaid-beach_accommodationIt was super close to the Pacific Fair shopping mall as well.
(I’m not sure how much it cost as my Mum paid)

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That night, my boyfriend & I met up with my friend  Ben who I met on my Contiki!
You may remember him from a previous blog post where I met up with him to watch the World Cup Rugby in Brisbane at the end of my Round-The-World-Trip.

After a bit of confusion of where to get off the Tram, N and I met Ben at The Thai Beer Garden Restaurant. The food was yummy and the service was good so if you’re looking for somewhere to eat while you’re in The GC, I’d recommend here!
We then headed off to Jupiter’s Casino which was just a short walk away.
We all didn’t really have any money and I have like no idea how to play any Casino games but Black-Jack so we had a go on the slot machines for a bit and I played 1 round of Black-jack and lost my money haha!

20160319_223625In the end, we parted ways and my boyfriend and I headed back to our room for the night where we just fell into bed. The time difference made us so tired!

Day 3 (Sunday)

This was our Movie World Day!
Before we headed off to the Theme Park, we went to grab Breakfast. I googled good places to eat in Broadbeach and came across something called Pancakes in Paradise.
It wasn’t until we got there that I realized this was the same place Me and N came for breakfast when we were last in Australia! It’s basically a better version of Denny’s. Like their meals are big and it’s all very American-like but it’s yummy and it fills you up.20160320_111401

I ended up getting scrambled eggs on a pancake with a side of toast but I couldn’t finish it all. I didn’t want to eat to much and be sick on the rides later!

20160320_111321After breakfast we drove to Movie World and spent all day there on the rides. Our first ride was The Green Lantern which is a roller coaster then we headed off to the Superman Ride where you go from 0-100km/h in under 2 seconds. It was super fast and I screamed the whole time haha!

They also had the Scooby Doo Ride which we perused my Mum to go on!
When we were having lunch, they had a Character Parade down the main street of Movie World where the kids could meet Tweety Bird and Scooby Doo which was cute.

I think overall the Arkham Asylum Ride was one of my favorites. It was one of the longer and more exciting rides and actually freaked you out as your legs are dangling and you think they’re gonna hit the roller coaster poles!

Arkham Asylum LaunchMovie World is an all-ages type of park as they have the Road Runner Rollercoaster that only goes up to 11 meters high, and the Junior Driving School for kids.Kids seem to love it and when it’s not the school holidays, the lines seem tolerable. (The longest we waited was probably 25 minutes for The Superman Ride)

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We left Movie World just before it shut at 5pm and drove back to our apartment.
Mum was keen on Italian food for dinner so we drove back into the city and found an Italian place. It was small but seemed pretty popular. I can’t remember what it was called but they did Turkish food as well as Italian.
I got a Lasagna which was super fulling I couldn’t even finish it.

Afterwards, I was meant to be meeting up with another friend from my travels through Europe but she ended up coming home from a BBQ really late so I didn’t get to see her.
We all went out for Ice-Cream instead at Ben & Jerrys. Well, my brother and I got Ice-cream while my Mum and N refused to as they were too full.
It took only a taste of Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Ice-cream for them to go and buy their own as they loved it so much.

Day 4 (Monday)

This was our last day in the Gold Coast and we had one more park to do, Wet’n’wild!
N & I packed up our bags and chucked them in the car so we could go straight to the airport after Wet’n’Wild.
I’m such a girlie girl and I always go on about not loving water so I wasn’t jumping up and down for this water park.
I hate all the stairs I have to climb in my Bikini with my stomach hanging out, looking like a drowned rat just to line up with 20 other people for a 10 second ride.
My boyfriend loves the water however so I did it for him really…
We went on every water ride there, even the one where you’re locked inside a capsule and shoot down a slide at 60km/h.

AquaLoop-HeroThe Tornado was pretty fun. You go down a long 40m tunnel on this 2-4 person tube spinning around the ‘Tornado’s funnel’ before coming out at the bottom.

tornadoN had a go on the FlowRider before we left too. You try and surf on this man-made flow of water on either a bodyboard or a FlowBoard. It’s about $20 per session and it’s a lot harder than it looks.
N loves surfing but he said it was so hard to stay on the board!

We had to be on the road to drive back to Brisbane Airport by 2pm so we left around then. We made good time and dropped off the Car early at the airport.
I did a bit of Duty-Free shopping once we’d checked in (MAC Make-Up obviously) then we had dinner at Subway and caught our flight back home at 6pm.
If you can find cheap deals to Australia, little breaks like this are quite fun. You can squeeze a lot in!

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The Gold Coast

Also known as ‘The GC’, The Gold Coast is situated on the East Coast of Australia. About an hours drive away from Brisbane.
It’s popular for it’s long sandy beaches, sunny days, night life and theme parks.
I feel you only live here if you have money. It’s great for a holiday and there’s so many hotels and apartments to rent out you’re spoilt for choice! But I don’t think I’d ever be able to afford to live there!
From December – February it gets quite hot and this is when the School Holidays are, so expect the Theme Parks to be pretty packed.
Also In November Australia starts their ‘Schoolies’ where every now ex-student travels to Surfers Paradise to party it up for the end of the year!

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Transport

It’s super easy to get around!
They have a TRAM system  (The G Link) which opened back in 2014 and runs for 13km’s from the Hospital to the University and then along Broadbeach (Where the beaches and resorts are)
I bought a Go Card when I was on The Gold Coast awhile back and they’re really easy to use. They cost $10 and you can top them up at the stations or at the Seven-Eleven stores. They have machines on the platform that you ‘touch on’ and ‘touch off’ at. They don’t regularly have anyone on the TRAMS that check your tickets but occasionally they do have Ticket Checkers on Board that come round and check your card to see if you’ve paid your fare. The TRAMS work from 5am to Midnight and are really regular so you’re not waiting around long.

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Where To Stay

You can find pretty much anything on The Gold Coast. Apartments, Fancy hotels, Ocean Side properties, Backpackers and cheaper motels.
I had a look online and you can even stay on a Houseboat in Coomera which is about a half hour drive away from the center of The GC if you wanted to!
Check TripAdvisor for recommendations on where to stay or Expedia for some good deals.
Broadbeach is a popular area to stay as you’re close to the beach and the shopping.
Surfers Paradise is the same, but more hustle and bustle.

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Jupiters Hotel & Casino

Universal Studios – Orlando

Universal Studios:
Theme parks with locations in Orlando- Florida , LA – California,  Sentosa – Singapore and Osaka – Japan
Universal Parks & Resorts is best known for attractions and lands based on famous pop culture properties (movies, television, literature, cartoons, comics, video games, music, etc.) from not only NBCUniversal but also other companies. – Wiki
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I had the opportunity last year (2015) to go to all of the Universal Studios (apart from Japan) but I only ended up going to the one in Orlando, Florida.
When I was in LA I pretty much just ran out of time, and in Singapore it was far too humid to be standing in line all day for rides so I didn’t go. I also hadn’t made any friends in Singapore to go with. Sad I know 😦

When I was on my Contiki Tour,  going to Universal was one of the options when we were in Orlando. If you’re ever there, defiantly go!! I had soo much fun. Especially as I was with a group of people, there was always someone keen to go on a ride with me.
It’s funny because when I went to the Theme Parks in Australia with my boyfriend last year, I was pretty nervous to go on half of the rides and didn’t even do some of them!
However when it came to going on the rides with my new-found friends from my tour, I was all for it!!

I think it’s because we didn’t even have time to contemplate how scary a ride would be. The lines were short that day so we’d just immediately line up and go for it without waiting and thinking how scary it was. The less you think about it, the better it is! Plus I didn’t want to seem like a wuss and chicken out at the last minute in front of everyone haha.

When the bus dropped us off at Universal, we all fast-walked to the ticket booth (And believe me, it’s a bit of a walk!)
You walk up all these ramps and go on these moving escalators to get to the park. I’m assuming they must get super super busy over the Holiday periods but luckily for us we went first thing in the morning and there wasn’t too much of a line.
When you get let through to the park, you go through a short process where one of the park employees uses a scanner on your finger tip and the software scans the swirls and arcs of your finger to create a grid of intersecting points. These points are then stored as a series of coordinating numbers so when the finger is scanned again, the number series will repeat and match itself to the stored original. I think they do this so they know the same person is using the same pass if it’s allocated to them for a ‘season pass’ or something.

Once we were given our tickets from our Tour Manager, we quickly got into groups and headed off to the rides.
My group decided we’d head to the Hogwarts Express first and take the train to Hogsmeade where we knew there were some Harry Potter themed rides.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a Harry Potter fan at all. I know the basic characters and everything but have never seen a full movie.
Anyways, we met a Hogwarts Prefect at the ‘London Station’ who lead us to our passenger compartment on the train and I have to say, it was pretty cool!

We were seated on the train just like I assume Harry Potter was in the compartments, and there was a screen on our window showing the beautiful country side as we chugged along.


When we arrived at Hogsmeade we went on the Dragon Challenge Ride first. It’s an intertwining roller coaster and has two corkscrews, and two vertical loops. Not everyone in our group was keen on this so myself and 3 others ran to line up. I’m glad I got a roller-coaster out of the way because it got all my adrenaline running at the beginning of the day.
It’s one of those roller-coasters where your feet hang down and you’re terrified you’re going to kick something or someone haha.


(The above video isn’t mine, I just found it off Youtube)

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When we got off the ride, we met the rest of the crew who had been waiting for us and tried one of their Butter Beers they bought from the Wooden Barrel. I was a bit hesitant to try one because (1. I hate beer, and 2. because as it was a dark color I assumed it’d taste like coke which I also hate)
However I was very wrong about this one. Looking back, I really should have gotten one because I always seem to crave it when I think of it.

Apparently Universal won’t release its butter-beer recipe, but people describe the drink as a”reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.”
The drink is drawn from a tap, like a beer, and the dense, whipped topping is added from a separate tap. It’s served in cups, about $3 ($4 for frozen) for a disposable cup and about $10 ($11 for frozen) for a hard plastic souvenir stein so not expensive at all!

The next ride was Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™
We walked through Gringotts Bank which was a large marble lobby and saw all these ‘Goblins’ hard at work.

When we arrived at the Underground ride, we hopped on to these flying benches and got strapped in. The ride is all in 3D and it honestly felt so real! We were flying on broomsticks with Harry & Ron, we were navigating the underground vaults and trying to get away from Villians. It’s a family ride, but I was still screaming with laughter.

I was expecting more rides at Hogsmeade but that was pretty much it. They also had a Gift Shop to buy all the Harry Potter Merchandise you could ever think of which is cool if you’re into that.
The Harry Potter adventure didn’t stop there however. We took the Hogwarts Express back to ‘London’ and went to Diagon Alley which is set up like the streets of London with a fire breathing Dragon at the top of one of the buildings.
There were so many shops!
You could buy your own Ollivanders wand and also these Interactive Wands so you could cast spells throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. You just waved your wand in certain areas, recited a spell, and then magic stuff would happen haha.
You could also buy assorted Wizardwear from Madam Malkin’s Robes and purchase wizarding wares and supplies like crystal balls, telescopes, binoculars, and hourglasses from Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment.
It was like a Harry Potter geeks dream.

The only thing I bought was an ice-cream from Fortescue’s Ice-cream haha. It was pretty good though!

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Silly me didn’t take a photo of my treat so I took this photo off Google 🙂 Pretty similar to what I had though.

They have three water rides at Universal Studios Orlando, we went on the Jurassic Park River Adventure Ride first which I kind of regret because I got soaked and ruined my hair for the rest of the day! Such a princess I know haha. You’re basically in a boat with 3 rows of other people and you go around a calm river with dinosaurs until something ‘goes wrong’ and then you’re put in front of the terrifying jaws of a towering T-rex and suddenly plunged 85-feet into total darkness.


I didn’t take any picture on this ride as I didn’t want my phone to get wet so I’ve found some pictures off Google too. 🙂

The second ride we went to was called Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. I had only just dried off so I skipped this ride and was the photo taker for everyone else. As you can see, this one is a log ride and is set in the Canadian North Woods. It has a 75-foot drop (22 meters) underneath an “exploding” dynamite shack.
20150904_104449.jpg20150904_105818.jpgWe were all pretty hungry by this stage so went to one of the many food places the park has. I can’t quite remember what I got but I think it was a combination of fries and a drink of some sort. Knowing me, I didn’t want to eat too much in case it made me sick later on!

If you explored the whole theme park, you’d find so many places to eat!!
They have everything from New York Dining which has  Italian food, and an Irish-American pub and restaurant which serves Fish ‘n Chips, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Guinness Beef Stew, Sandwiches, Salads, and a Full Bar.
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They also had restaurants which have ‘Character Breakfasts’ (Great if you have kids with you) which you pay like $26 USD for and you get eggs, bacon, pancakes, yogurt, muffins & croissants in a buffet. You get to have your photo taken with characters from Hop & Despicable Me and then on the day of the breakfast you have access to an exclusive viewing area where you can see the Universal Superstar Parade which has floats & music etc.
Note: This is only available on Thursdays – Saturdays from 9am to 10am

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Universalorlando.com

Universal also has Mel’s Drive- In Diner which is all 50s themed and plays golden oldies on the jukebox and serves Burgers and Fries, Chicken Sandwiches, Chicken Fingers, Onion Rings, Root Beer Floats and Frosty Milk Shakes. I didn’t go to this diner, but I went to the one in Hollywood when I was there and the shakes were so good!
ORL455_USF_MelsI could really go on and on about all the places you can eat but I’d be writing for ages! They have your Burger King in the food court. They have Starbucks, Moes (Mexican food), A Sushi bar, Cinnabon, Cold Stone Creamery and a place called Lone Palm Aiport which is an outdoor tiki bar with hot dogs, shrimp and beer. Writing all this has just made me hungry haha.
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I didn’t actually know this until I started researching more about Universal, but they have nightlife there!  At Universal CityWalk they have bars like The Red Coconut Club and a movie theater which has a concession stand serving hot foods like pizza and fries, plus a full liquor bar featuring beer and wine. I wish I went to The Red Coconut Club now 😦 it has three different bars spread across the club’s two levels, signature martinis and specialty drinks, an extensive wine list and VIP table service!!
I guess this just means I have to go back 😉

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Once we were all fed, we headed over to The Mummy Ride.
It was so much fun!! We made two of the people on our group go on this who barely went on many of the scary rides and they loved it, even if they were screaming their head off the whole time hahaha. We loved it so much we went on it like 4 times that afternoon.
You’re plunged into total darkness, there’s huge fireballs (Which are actually really hot) and swarms of scarab beetles and an army of warrior mummies coming at you.
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If you love The Simpsons growing up, you’d love the whole Simpsons Theme they have going on. They have a Simpsons Ride which we lined up for. You go into these individual rooms with groups of about 4 people and you’re put into a cart-type thing. It’s a 3D high definition ride so you don’t really go anywhere but you feel like you are!  You embark on a wild ride through Krustyland where you fly and float and crash through the attractions and stunt shows and your cart moves from side to side and up and down which is fun. It’s crazy what they can do with animation and stuff nowadays which makes you feel like you’re really about to fall down this cartoon roller-coaster haha.
20150904_150200.jpg‘Springfield’ was getting a bit dark and gloomy when we walked through the park thanks to a thunderstorm arriving so one of the guys in our group quickly bought one of those big pink donuts from Lard Lad Donuts and we took a couple of pictures before heading to Moe’s Tavern for a drink of Duff beer.

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There were quite a few people inside lining up for a cold Duff beer so the boys spent awhile trying to get the bar tenders attention. As I don’t like beer, I didn’t try it but the boys said it tasted all good 🙂20150904_150635.jpg
I didn’t get to try a Krusty Burger as I wasn’t hungry, but they also have a restaurant there selling the famous Krusty Burgers, the Clogger Burger, The Ribwich, Sideshow Bob Foot Long, or a Heat Lamp Dog.

Before we finished our day at Universal, we went on the Mummy Ride one last time and when we exited, it absolutely poured down with rain!
We all huddled underneath some shelter near the lockers hoping that the rain would pass but it didn’t so I went inside and bought a poncho.
They look a bit lame and everyone laughed at me but eventually they all bought one too!
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We wanted to go on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket which is a roller-coaster with this massive loop but it closed because of the thunder and lightning before we left.
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I forgot to mention this, but at some stage during the day. We did go on The Incredible Hulk Coaster®
You go from zero to 40 mph (60km’s) in two seconds flat, and was defiantly one of the coolest roller coasters I’ve been on.20150904_115159.jpg
The Hulk-4So that was my day at Universal!
Hopefully I’ve inspired you to go to one of them whenever you’re in Los Angeles,  Orlando or even Singapore! Or maybe I’ve done some of the research for you.
Head to http://www.universalstudios.com for more info about all the rides and resorts you can stay at.
If you’ve been, let me know what your favorite ride was in the comments below!

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