SUN-KISSED LAZY DAY AT PINK BEACH, FLORES – WITH TRAVEL SOCIETY!

As most of you (might) have noticed, I’ve been posting a series of my first encounter with the “oh-so-amazing” Labuan Bajo with Travel Society. What do you think so far? A lot of my friends and Instagram’s followers kept on giving me the same respond, which either:

“I literally want to visit Labuan Bajo soon after seeing your posts!”
or
“Is it really that beautiful?”

I mean, YES. My whole perception of the touristy spot in Indonesia changed from the moment I witnessed the untouched beauty with my own eyes. Especially, when I put my feet for the first time on the soft cotton-candy sands in Namo Island, Flores.

All the girls from my travel group was immediately fell head over heel with the pink beach. Camera was out, snapgram-ing was a necessity. The pink hue apparently was a result of erosion that happened to large numbers of pink coral that can be found in the sea of Flores. The tiny particles then got carried away onto the beautiful islands and created a pampering view.

We spent a good few hours just playing on the beach, swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on the beach. It was definitely a good time indeed! Here’s some good photos from the Pink Beach!

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

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While In New Zealand: A Visit To The Breathtaking Lake Tekapo

As I’m drafting this post, the stats have shown that the total readers of this blog, for 2017 only have reached more than 10,000 last November. Combined with last year stats, the number is now almost reaching 20,000. That’s quite a lot for a blog that exists for only two years now. Well, I’ve never really expected such appreciation, and it was never my goals to have lots of readers and visitors. I just really enjoy storytelling my experiences in the hope of giving inspiration to others 20something out there to do the same.

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Anyway, speaking of sharing experience, in this post I’ll share a brief story about my visitation to Lake Tekapo, located in the southern island of New Zealand. After days of road trip in New Zealand, my friends and I made it to visit this beautiful Lake Tekapo, which surrounded with rows of dramatic snowy mountains at the Southern Alps.

I remember hopping out of the car feeling hungry while at the same time feeling this uncontainable excitement. Since it was our first time in New Zealand, we relied so much on TripAdvisor and Zomato kinda apps. They recommended us to have a stonegrill luncheon at the Mackenzie Cafe Bar Grill. However, the moment I entered the restaurant and looked through their window glass, which separates the interior from the mesmerizing outdoor area that leads to a huge wide open grass fields and the enormous Tekapo.

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As soon as I finished telling the waitress what I wanted for lunch, I grabbed my camera and walked out through their backdoor. It was cold, but at the same time, it was warm enough for me to walk around comfortably without shivering. Photo opp was definitely next!

While plenty of other tourists were busy getting their perfect shot in front of the Church of The Good Shepherd, which was crowded at that time, I preferred to go and enjoyed the shimmery, sun-reflected lake. For a moment, I really wished that I had Hiro Nakamura’s superpower – the ability to stop time.

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Lake Tekapo, the second-largest lake (83 square kilometres) in the South Island of New Zealand is about three hours drive south-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin. The town faces north across the remarkable turquoise colored lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps.

If you are happen to be visiting New Zealand next year, this place is definitely a must visit!

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Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

First Time Living On Board For 3 Days With Travel Society

How do I survive Jakarta’s crazy hustle? By constantly trying something new every now and then. I remember this urge of keeping myself from insanity of living in concrete Jungle like this started to pop out last year. From then, I (seem to) subconsciously walked into the path of exploring this and that.

For example, I signed up myself for a muaythai class (something I thought I would never enjoy doing). End of last year, I joined a broadcasting class to expand my network and develop my public speaking skill. That’s only the simple regular things that you can do as well. But I didn’t stop there, I took it extremely.. from climbing Rinjani, to hiking Kawah Ijen alone. From flying to New Zealand alone, and spending only a day in Bali recently. Not forget to mention, living on a ship for three days in Labuan Bajo last September on my 30th birthday.

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The perks of living on board for three days: breath-taking views everywhere you turn.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, yes this is in Indonesia.

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This reminds me of a set from Game of Thrones.

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Good life!

At first, the thought of living on a ship in the middle of an ocean was kinda creepy for me. I literally couldn’t imagine myself floating around in darkness with only few centimetres of woods that separate me from the deep ocean. Add to that picture is the super humid air and mosquitos!

BUT, the curiosity of simply doing it and giving it a try is just beyond containable. Besides, I’ve bought the ticket to LabuanBajo, so cancelling the trip was not even an option.

Fast forward to my first encounter with my “above-the-water-hotel” for three days at the port of Labuan Bajo. It was a two storeys motorboat, with two small bedrooms (at the lower deck) that has air conditioner, and would fit for 6 people. It was not really that spacey, but it was comfy enough for you to sleep.  The captain and guide were uber friendly, and the crew cooked really delicious home-made Indonesian foods! Travel Society did not only serve us breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also afternoon snacks. Yaaas!

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Our guide, Stefanus, and the captain.

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I kid you not, they taste GOOD! And, they serve different menu every day.

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I stopped capturing photos during the next meal time, because I was too focused finishing them.

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One of the afternoon snacks: fried banana with sweet condensend milk and meses. This is very very very luxurious after a day of snorkeling!

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Enjoying the afternoon breeze from the upperdeck, captured by: Janice.

I slept at the upperdeck using only mattresses, pillows and blankets with about 5 other people (they were all my friends by the way). Okay, the island-hopping trip was fun. The breeze was very enjoyable. The view was amazing especially during golden hour. Until the night came and it was time to sleep.

Apparently, all the picture I had in mind were false. First of all, the boat stayed quite near to the beach along with other boats. And, the best part is, it has genset (diesel generator)! So the lights were on, I could charge my laptop, powerbank, camera battery. There was no mosquito. And, it was not humid. In fact, it was rather breezy at night we had to use a blanket to keep ourselves warm.

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The upperdeck.

How about the bathroom? Now, this is a fifty-fifty perspective. Some of my friends were okay with the bathroom, some of them were not. There was only one bathroom with limited clean water to be used. It was not a dry-floored bathroom so you can had to wear your flip-flops while doing everything in there (for some people this might be annoying, but I was fine with it).

Overall conclusion? If you are up for a bit of adventure and new experience, just go for it! Besides, it’s only a three-day and two-night experience. The whole memory that you can collect and bring home would last longer than that. (insert a wink emoji).

Btw, here’s some tips if you are going into a sailing trip like me:

1. Pack lightly! The rooms are not that big to contain a huge suitcase, besides it’s three days of swimming you only need swimwear, shirts, toiletries, and towel!

2. If you’re a guy, you don’t need to bring too much underwear. I only packed three swim shorts (one for each day), and wear it all day so that I jump into the water anytime.

3. Aloe vera gel or sunblock is a must! I got quite a bad sunburnt on the first day.

4. If you’re a heavy-muncher like me, there’s no harm in bringing extra snacks!

5. Last one, brings a cable connector so you can charge multiple devices at the same time at night. There’s not much to see at night, so you might wanna bring a speaker to play your favorite Spotify playlist. Or like me, to binge-watch Game of Thrones before sleep haha.

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Enjoying the boat life, a little bit too much.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

 

Postcards From Labuan Bajo: A Birthday Trip With Travel Society!

I still remember last year strolling around several Instagram accounts, hoppin from one photo to another, and stumblin upon many photos of the beautiful Labuan Bajo. That was when I decided to intentionally find more infos on how to travel to this part of Indonesia. Particularly as I was craving for a good holiday day on the beach, yet was so bored with Bali. I was keen to explore more hidden gems of this country.

Travel Society was like that thirst-quencher in the middle of a sunny day. Our convo begun with warm greetings and ended up in a collaboration as they invited me to join one of their sailing trips to Bajo! If you are looking for an affordable travel experience to Labuan Bajo and some other places in Indonesia, yet with comfortable place to stay and friendly guides to accompany you, Travel Society should be on your call list.

They have regular dates every year for an open trip to Bajo that you can check on their Instagram account. Out of the dates they provide, I picked the one in September not knowing that it fell right on my 30th birthday!

Celebrating your birthday with a new experience was definitely a great idea. As for me, I celebrated it with a living on a boat for 3 days and 2 nights, visiting 9 islands (Kelor, Manjarite, Rinca, Padar, Namo, Taka Makassar, Gili Lawa, Kanawa, and Bidadari) in total, trekking several hills to watch sunrise and sunset, snorkeling to find manta, getting up close and personal with the Komodo dragon, laying on a pink beach, and swimming in a clear turquoise sea. Well, I got a pretty bad sunburnt as a birthday gift, but it was definitely worth the experience!

I’ll share more about these trip, but for now, please enjoy my postcard series from Labuan Bajo!

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First island in the itinerary, Pulau Kelor

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Menjangan (deer), which is the Komodo dragon’s lunch menu.

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Enjoying the sailing trip a little bit too much.

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Fishermen ready to go to work.

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A convo at golden hour.

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That beautiful hue of gold behind a hill.

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Sunrise watching from the top of Padar Island.

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One of the best islands, Taka Makassar, which pretty much reminds me of Maldive.

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Floating hotels at Gili Lawa.

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Resting to catch a breath.

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Sand-dipped toes on Bidadari Island.

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I was so tempted to say “Dracarys” LOL!

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Sunset at Labuan Bajo.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

Postcards From Sydney: Fallin’ In Love For The Third Time Around

“Sydney? Again?”
Most people reacted like that when they heard that I’m going to Sydney for the third time. They failed to understand why on earth would I keep coming back and forth to Sydney.

“If I were you, I would use the money to travel to other cities on earth,” so they said. As much as I agreed on their comeback, somehow, there’s something about Sydney that makes me feel like it’s always a trip to second home (probably, partly because I still have a close family who lives there).

Now, after the third visit, I departed from Sydney shedding a little tear wondering whether I can come back for more or not. How about I just spend the next season of my life in Sydney? It’s all in my head. Not sure whether I should act on it right away.

This time in Sydney, I found comfort and felt confident in wandering around and exploring the city alone. I enjoy every single experience of getting the wrong bus, walking a bit too far because I took the wrong turn, hopping on and off the trains all by myself. Will tell you more details about this trip, but for now, please do enjoy some photos I captured from this beautiful city.

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First time witnessing double rainbow at Shelly Beach. 


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Captured this by iPhone 5S. One eye-spoiling sunset!


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Symmetrical. Captured this when I took the wrong train to Macquarie.


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Stumbling upon this “urban”-ish and “instagenic” train tunnel.


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In Indonesia, I had to hike to high places to watch sunrise. In Sydney, I woke up and opened my eyes to this beautiful sunrise from my cousin’s apartment. 


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Marchin’ on a hill.


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Sunbathing. Not On A Sand. But On A Grass Field.


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Climb Up, Climb Up.


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Nap Time At The Park.


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Should I Dip My Feet On The Water?


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Architectural.


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Temptation For A Munching Machine. 


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Reminds Me Of That Groceries Store Corner That I Saw Once In Monocle.


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The Popular Bondi Beach.


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What You Lookin’ At?


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Will I Find Love Inside?

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Postcards From Belitung: A Collaborative Trip with SanaSiniYo.

Last May, I had a 4-day trip to this small island at the bottom of Sumatra, which marked my first time ever stepping on the ground of the west part of Indonesia. It was quite an impulsive decision to book a ticket and fly to Belitung, just because I stumbled upon this amazing Instagram feeds of @SanaSiniYo only a month before. SanaSiniYo is a Trip Planner, founded by two uber-friendly 20something guys, Timothy and Erick. These guys are always ready to accompany you exploring Belitung with very affordable budget. Plus, they area also great in taking good photos and coloring them into Instagram-approved posts!

Well, I’m not gonna go into details about my 4 days 3 nights trip to Belitung in this post. Here’s 9 beautiful photos that hopefully could inspire you to call your friends and experience the perks of island-hopping in Belitung!

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Mount Kubing’s Infinity Pool.

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Barefooted.

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Just my favorite color palettes. 

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I’m literally in love with Indonesia’s shades of blue.

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The solid watch tower at Lengkuas Island.

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The only green I love besides Broccoli. 

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A dip during the golden hour.

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Too pretty not to be captured.

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Kaolin Lake.

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

A Heart-Warming Lesson From Going Solo to Ijen Crater

Just like the famous and phenomenal Star Wars franchise, which has a prequel to its first original 3 episodes, this post would be the prequel to my last post. Before the 12 hours I spent in Surabaya, I got to spend two days in Banyuwangi. It’s a small city located in East Java (about 6 hours of train ride from Surabaya) for a hike to Ijen Crater and a motor ride to Baluran National Park (will share about this in other post).

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Back in February I was having two weeks off as I was in between job. Being a real millennial that I am, of course staying in Jakarta and doing nothing would be my last option. With limited budget yet limitless curiosity to explore new places, after a little bit of web-hopping and trackpad-clicking, I was already sitting in a train to Banyuwangi.

I arrived in Banyuwangi at 3pm in the afternoon, and directly headed to a homestay, which was located right in front of the train station. After settling in and cleaning up, I rented a motorcycle and went out to explore the city. But, right now I’m not gonna go into details about Banyuwangi. Let’s save it for another post.

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The Sulphur Mining.

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Don’t I look like a ninja? Pardon the bad quality photo.

To catch sunrise at the summit of Ijen Mountain, I had to wake up at midnight, and leave before 12am because the homestay’s front door will be locked afterwards. However, because I was probably too tired, I overslept and didn’t hear my alarm when it went off. I jumped out of bed at almost 1AM thinking I’ve missed my only chance to hike Ijen Mountain. Thank God, I haven’t.

The front door was already locked, thank God the owner was kind enough to wake up and open it for me. Next thing I knew, I was already on the road using a motorcycle, feeling very much alive. The cold wind kept on slapping my face. The streets were mostly dark and deserted. The locals were already dreaming their way to La la Land. Google Maps told me that it would take me about 1 hour of motor ride. So I put my earphone and sang along to any song that Spotify shuffled for me.

About one hour later, I finally arrived at the entrance of Patulding (the basecamp of Ijen Mountain). I had to pay IDR 5K (if I’m not mistaken) to go in, and also bought a pair of gloves, since the guard was warning me that it might be very cold up there due to the rainy season.

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Waiting for the sunrise

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The road to Patulding was narrow and COMPLETELY DARK. There were neither houses nor streetlights. My only source of light came from the headlight of my motorcycle, and there were also no other vehicles. I was completely alone in the middle of what seemed to be a concrete jungle. After gathering every little bit of courage I could find within me, off into the wood I went! Secretly wishing that I would encounter a car, or other fellow motor rider, or at least a human being walking. There was none.

“No turning back, Bro,” I said to myself. I just gotta continue the ride until I find the Patulding basecamp, which was about 20 minutes later. Traveling alone in the dark at midnight, in the middle of a forest was scary enough. At least, for me. But it didn’t stop there. It started to rain. Not a drizzle. Heavy rain.

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The cartwheel that miners use to carry the sulphur.

The road became slippery and I remember feeling utterly worried that the machine would just give up on me and I had to continue the rest of the trip walking to Patulding. Thank God the motorcycle was tough enough. To make myself feel better, I sang some worship songs out loud (LOL). It was dramatic.

Long story short, after a wonderful (not) trip, I arrived at Patulding Basecamp. Parked my motorcycle, while still shivering, because it was super cold. Gratefully, my camera and iPhone were okay, even though my hip pack was drenched.

Feeling a bit traumatized, my guts level decreased immediately from 100 to almost minus. I was intently planning to hike alone, but after what I had to go through, I buried that plan, and hired a local guide, Mas Yono, instead to accompany me. At first, I thought hiking to Ijen would be a smooth sailing. The pride in me, kept on telling me that since I’ve conquered Rinjani, which is 3726 meters above sea level, going to Ijen (2799 meters above sea level) would be nothing.

I was wrong. You really can’t act cocky towards Mother Nature.

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My signature yellow jacket.

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These cartwheels are used to carry people. Yeap, that explains the pillow haha.

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Breakfast with the locals.

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See? I told you.

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The guides.

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Sulphur as souvenirs.

The hiking itself was easy, but since it was drizzling and foggy, the crater has the potential to release toxic gas that could be dangerous to you, and would make your breathing difficult. Unlike Rinjani that made me walk about 6 hours to reach its summit, Ijen was kind enough to let me walk for about 40-ish minutes.

Sadly, the wind was very strong, and the fog was thick, I couldn’t see the blue fire with my own eyes. I had to be content to see the sulphur miner who were busy extracting one of nature’s precious gems to be sold as souvenir or soaps that could make your skin smooth and clean.

Around 6PM, the sky gets brighter. Sadly, there was no hint of a sunrise at all. It was all clouds and fogs instead. There was a bit of discontentment within me, because I felt like I deserved to witness a clear, mesmerizing view, after such scary trip. So, I waited for another hour. But instead of giving me the glorified sunrays, the sky decided to unleash raindrops.

I sighed. And told myself to be grateful. Because even without the sunrise, the whole trip to Ijen Crater has left quite a memorable story.

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Act like a tourist.

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Meet, Mas Yono.

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The sun started to appear when I was already on my way back.

At 7.30-ish I’m already back at the Patulding basecampe and decided to stay for a while to have a bowl of noodles and hot milk as breakfast. The kind-hearted guide, Mas Yono, waved his goodbye. Before he left, I asked him, whether he’s going to accompany another guest. He shook his head, and replied, “One guest per day is enough. I shall let the other guides to have more guests than me, because unlike the others I have a rice field at home that can be my other source of income.”

I was so inspired by his answer and literally felt something within me got warmer. Probably it’s a gentle knock to my conscience, a reminder not to get greedy with what I have in my hands. There’s better fulfillment in sharing. Sometimes we forget that, especially if we’ve been living in a big city, which has a strong ME-FIRST culture.

There might not be a sunrise for me to watch that morning. But there was something more beautiful to witness. A sincere heart.

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Imagine going through this narrow road at midnight, in total darkness and heavy rain.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)