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Mango Itch

21 June 2012

We checked into our amazing hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam {thanks, Amanda, for the awesome recommendation} and one of the great perks is that they put a big bowl of fruit in the room everyday.

I'm a fruit lover.
My husband hates fruit.
It's summer in Vietnam, so it's  fruit lover's paradise.

Immediately, I had my eye on the big, juicy mango in the bowl.
I paused for a moment to plan my attack.
They gave a knife with the bowl....but no plates or silverware.
So I did as any logical, fruit-obsessed person would do,
and I proceeded to devour the mango, island-style.

If you're not familiar with island-style,
it looks a little something like this.

Then you just put your face up to it, and lap up every last, juicy morsel.
The next day, we were out exploring the city all day, and when we came back to the hotel,
I was dismayed to find that the hotel staff had not replaced the mango in my fruit bowl.  
I grumbled about it to my husband, but decided to let it pass.

That night, my lips were feeling really sunburnt.
Granted, we were out in the ridiculously hot weather all day, and the rest of my body was feeling slightly burnt as well.  But no matter how much chapstick I applied, my lips wouldn't stop feeling burnt and achey.  

The next morning I woke up, and my mouth opened like the tin man who hasn't gotten any grease.
I went straight to the mirror and noticed a lot of crusting on the left corner of my mouth.
To my horror, I saw some puss and little blister-like sores had developed.
Worried that it was herpes, or some weird infection, I told my husband so we could make sure there wasn't any transference.  

All day long I was acutely aware of the sores on my lips.
They hurt, and they felt like they were getting worse.
I could barely open my mouth to insert food.

Immediately upon opening my eyes the next morning, I ran to the mirror to assess my condition.
When I saw yellow, hardened pus, and spreading sores, I wanted to hide my face and cry.
Suddenly, I remembered something my sister told me several months ago.
She had an allergic reaction to eating a mango,
and after talking to her doctor, found out it's a legit condition called mango itch.

As it turns out, the mango is a close relative poison ivy and poison oak.
In fact, the skin of the mango contains the exact same oil, urushiol oil, as the oil found in poison ivy.
So while it's perfectly safe to eat the fruit {which I've been eating for many years}
eating the mango "island style" can cause your face to come into contact with the urushiol oil.

So, to boil it down for you,
I basically rubbed poison ivy all over my lips.  
If you've never had poison ivy, A) I envy you, and B) words cannot express the hell that is the bullet you've dodged.

The only silver lining is that it was difficult for strangers to notice, because of the placement on my lips.
The picture below is the only one I have where you can slightly detect a problem.  You can see that my bottom lip is a bit swollen, and my smile is slightly lopsided {due to the horrible pain on the left side of my mouth!}
If you want to be gross and take a super close look, you can see some crusties on the left side of my mouth {the right side of the picture.}

The condition continued to get worse for two days after this photo was taken,
but now is close to clearing up.  Thank the lords.  

So the moral of the story is that I should thank the hotel for not replacing my mango,
and shall henceforth never be a ravenous, crazy person who eats mangos island-style.
And I'll feel much more compassion for people I see with cold sores on their face.
The end.

Fun Fact: Our Cat

20 June 2012

Yes, our family had a ginormous cat.
We called him Woodson, 
{after Charles Woodson, former UofM football great.}
Also known as Woody, Woodrow, Woodrow Wilson, and the Woodman.
We held up the CD in this picture so you can get a sense of scale.

He was the sweetest cat EVER.
I've never known a cat to purr as much as he did.
You could hear him from across the room,
when no one was petting him,
just purring away.

He died last year at the ripe old age of 14.
Love you Woody!

This blog post is part of the "Fun Facts About Emmy June" series, designed to keep you entertained and following along, while I'm gallivanting around the globe for two months.

Top 10 Things to do in Sydney

18 June 2012

Hi friends!
You can find me over at Paper Notes today,
sharing my Top 10 Things to do in Sydney.

Here's a sneak peek....


Stop by Paper Notes to see the rest of my Top 10!

Top Things to do in Ubud, Bali

Rent a motorbike and get lost exploring!  For about $5US per day (or 50,000IDR) you can get a motorbike and helmets.  Yes, the driving seems intimidating--not only is it left-side driving, but the road rules are "looser."  However, don't let this stop you.  Just be vigilant, watch what others do, and smile.

It's a great way to get out of the city and see the more rural side of Bali.  You'll enjoy views of the rice paddies and seeing the locals go about their everyday lives.

Spa, spa, spa everyday!  Take advantage of the great prices and easy availability.  I already wrote a lot about this here.

Eat at Sari Organik.  It's a bit of a trek to get there, but that's half the fun!  You'll see gorgeous views of the rice paddies, and the food is incredible.

The View from Sari Organik
Enjoy a cecak, or fire dance, performance.  These traditional Balinese song & dance performances are held at the local temples almost every night.  Admission is 80,000IDR (~$9US.)  Pictured below is the culmination of the dance, which is a guy walking through hot coals.  My apologies for the poor quality photo!

Go to the Ubud market for shopping.  Make sure you don't miss the local fruit.  The mangosteen is especially great to try.  It's being hailed as a super fruit that has many health benefits including the reduction in free radicals; however, all that aside, it's super tasty!

Go to the Monkey Forest for up-close encounters with our distant relatives.  However, beware that they might be found sitting on your car, bicycle, or motorbike when you return to the parking lot!

Check out some of the {many} temples in Bali.  Yes, they are a bit of a tourist trap, but they also carry a lot of history and beautiful grounds & statues.  Expect to pay a small admission fee at each, as well as hear sales pitches from the guides-for-hire.

The little offerings to the Gods, found all over Bali, in front of every business & residence.
Men are required to wear this sarong style garb at the temples.  They provide it on-site for a small donation.
This is at Goa Gajah {Elephant Cave} temple. 

Tanah Lot temple

Admire the cute kiddos.  They love posing for photos!

While I enjoyed the food, the spa, and the relaxing environment of Bali, I was slightly disappointed with the spiritual aspect of the place.  Many people {whose opinions I respect} rave about Bali and what a wonderful, uplifting, spiritual place it is.  Without realizing it, I developed some pretty high expectations.  The Balinese people were friendly, and they practiced many of the dogmatic aspects of their religion fastidiously.  Every house & business has a little shrine, and they put flowers & incense in it daily.  However, I didn't get nearly the spiritual vibrations that I felt in India...and I was disappointed to visit many temples and not find a single person praying or meditating.  So, to me, it seemed like the foreigners were really the ones in Bali for yoga & meditation.  Perhaps it was simply my lack of attunement, but I was disappointed that the spiritual side of the location didn't live up to my expectations.

I also felt like almost every local wanted something from us.  There are literally hundreds of men that line the sidewalks of the main roads and ask the foreigners "Taxi?  You want taxi?  Maybe tomorrow?"  Sometimes they start their pitch by saying "Hello" or "Good morning."  It got really annoying after awhile and made me feel slightly hardened against interacting with the locals.  Most of the spas do the same sort of thing, although not to the same degree.  Every shop you walk past, the shopkeeper will say "Yes. Please. Have a look."  If you do try to peruse their shop, they will be hovering over you the whole time, showing you items and trying to make sure you buy something.

I did truly enjoy Bali and I'm really glad that we went.  I loved all the activities I listed above, and found it nice to have leisurely days on the island.  For me {and I can speak for my husband, as well}, it's a destination that I probably won't return to.  I think once was enough...and I'm probably one of the few people that would jump at the chance to return to India instead of Bali.

Next stop: Hanoi, Vietnam

Spiritual Sunday

17 June 2012

"The Ocean of Spirit has become the little bubble of my soul.  
Whether floating in birth, or disappearing in death, 
in the ocean of cosmic awareness the bubble of my life cannot die.  
I am indestructible consciousness, protected in the bosom of Spirit's immortality."

-Paramahansa Yogananda
"Metaphysical Meditations"
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