Memories of Regional China

This weeks DP Challenge is by girl in the hat writer Anna Fonté about creating a list. As I found visiting regional China an amazing experience, my list describes my memories of this special time.

 1. Appreciation of road rules and seat belts

Driving in China is scary and it is a wise decision that  foreign tourists cannot hire a car and drive.  On the freeway between Nanjing and Wuhu, the private car we were in was traveling at 100 kilometres an hour, 4 abreast on a 3 lane highway. Honking is the warning system used to indicate that someone is about to change lanes.  Everyone is on a mission to get  where they are going and surprisingly, it works.  The taxis have no seat belts which took some adjusting too..

2. Bicycles and mopeds

With limited money, bicycles and mopeds are a major source of transportation in regional China. We saw moped that managed to carry a whole family-mum, dad, baby, sibling and the family dog. It was amazing. Bicycles were everywhere and it was also not unusual to see people and cats sleeping on them during the day.

3. Celebrity status

In regional China, ‘white people’ are a rarity and as the Chinese believe that we (white people) bring good luck, we felt like celebrities. Everywhere we went people would ask (usually by pointing to the camera) to have their photo taken with us.  Sometimes they would attempt a conversation which we loved.

4. Communication through hand signals

How do you communicate with people who cannot understand the language you speak? In regional China few people speak English. You very quickly become used to hand signals and thinking creatively to get your point across. Oh and when you are talking money, the calculator is a universal language.

5. Facebook

Facebook is blocked in most of China so you are taken back to a time in your life where you are not constantly connected to everyone. It initially is a weird feeling and then you fill your time with other things and adjust into a new rhythm.

6. Food

While you can get western food in regional China it is rare especially in the smaller cities so you are forced to look for other alternatives and try new food. Seeing live animals in the supermarkets to be sold for food was a new experience.

7. History and Culture

The more I learnt about the history and culture, the more inspired I was. In the Shaolin Temple, there is a tree that is 1500 years old. Understanding the growth of China this century through the leadership of Sun Yat-Sen is eye opening. He was a very inspirational leader loved by all.

8. Natural Beauty

China is a very beautiful country when you leave the cities and explore. The scenic spots as they are called require travelling to, usually with a guide but your reward is their beauty.

9. Speech

Understanding how you speak, changes as you communicate with people of other languages. We needed to slow down and pronunciation words clearly so they were understood. Learning that the Chinese often sound loud and at times aggressive just in their normal speaking voice, changes how you respond to situations.

10. Trust yourself

With limited communication everything you take for granted at home is an issue. Catching a taxi. reading maps and purchasing food. These and many more take you out of your comfort zone and allow you to grow as a person as through trusting yourself.

I hope you enjoyed my memories.


Share Your World -2014 Week 21

This week I discovered a  weekly challenge from Cee’s Photography. Each week Cee posts questions to have some fun, think outside the square and get to know each other better.

So let the fun begin.

 If you could make a 15 second speech to the entire world, what would you say?

Treat yourself and others with respect. Work together to achieve your goals and don’t let ‘failure’ (not achieving your goal the first time) stop you. Continue to review and give it a go, learning whatever you need to learn along the way. It’s all part of the journey.

If you could take a photograph, paint a picture or write a story of any place in the world. what where would  it be?

I would love to take a photograph of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis.) This is an amazing natural phenomena that occurs in the northern hemisphere.

If you could spend one weekend alone in a single store but could remove nothing, which store would you pick?

My dream store to spend a weekend exploring alone would be Harrods. It is the biggest department store in Europe, occupying 5 acres and with a motto that means “all things for all people, everywhere” I should have plenty to entertain me.

If you were given a boat or yacht today, what would you name it? (You can always sell the yacht later.)

Inspired -which is also the french word for inspiration.

What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

As a new blogger I am grateful for the ‘how to information’ I have received from my fellow bloggers. During the up coming week I am looking forward to connecting more with the blogging community and my blog beginning to have followers.

Welcome to my world.

On Our Block

First my eyes, then my nose felt it. Yes, irritation was in the air.  All over my block, pollen had fallen like snow and was covering the road like a quilt, leaving outlines of the cars after they had driven off.  As it doesn’t snow in Sydney, I had never seen anything fall so intensely  to leave a shape behind.

My suburb  was built for the Sydney Olympics and is heavily planted with Australian native trees and shrubs which makes it unique. To this day under the community title, it is a requirement that all gardens have a high percentage of Australian native plants. At present, it is the flowering eucalyptus blooms (see below) that lines every street that are turning the suburb beige, and irritating people’s hay fever.

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The tall eucalyptus trees are approximately twenty years old and  bring a lots of bird life to the area. Every morning as I walk out the front door, I hear a choir of birds calling to each other as they fly off. This  gives the suburb a very Australian feel, which is unusual in the city. High up in the eucalyptus tree on our side fence lives a very cute possum whom we have nicknamed Tom. Every evening after dark, he comes to life screeching as he defends his territory and running and thumping across our roof as he plays. He once tried eating our lemons  but thankfully, they were too sour for him.

Tom Possum

I love my block. It is a great part of the world to live. Close enough to feel the energy from Sydney Olympic Park and yet far enough away that most of Sydney does not even realize it is here. Hiding, tucked up in its own little enclosure surrounded by two of Sydney’s busiest roads and a jail on the third side.

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Street View (ANZ Stadium in background)

As I enjoy the natural beauty of the fallen pollen on our block until the wind blows it away, I will treat the symptoms of my irritation as they arise. Who knows over time I may even desensitize to the effects of the pollen, while I enjoy living among the gum trees.


Why Am I Here?

I have previously done the Blogging 101 challenge however am repeating it to connect with more people and to find new ways to improve my blog. There are many things I didn’t connect with last time and I hope to attempt them this time and see what happens. At present, this feels daunting but the personal growth is always from outside your comfort zone. While I have done this challenge before I am hoping to extend myself even further and continue to find my online voice.

The concept of Inspiring Max was created in my head a few years ago, but like all good things it has taken its time to develop. I have chosen to write this blog under my family nick name, to allow me more creativity, and not to have my ideas biased. Through Inspiring Max, I want to connect with people and share my thoughts, experiences and travels with the world. I will also blog on things I have found useful and inspiring. The secret of success  is understanding what your audience wants, so I am very keen to receive your feedback and ideas.

My interests are learning new things, meeting new people and enjoy exchanging ideas and information. The world is a fascinating place and I think blogging can bring everyone closer. Having spend all my working life with people face to face, using the written word online is a new experience that I am excited about taking up the challenge of.

For the last 50 years, I have led a relatively sheltered life and through Inspiring Max, I want to ‘put myself out there and see where the journey takes me.’ I hope that you will stay a while and join me on my journey.

This year I plan to self-publish my book Inspiring Hope: How Eating Disorder recovery Is Possible, which is based on my experiences working with patients over the last 20 years with people recovering form an eating disorder as a professional working in the field.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Lao-tzu



Vitamin D-The Good Health Secret

Do you spend all day, every day inside or smothered with sunscreen?  If the answer is yes, you like I, could have a vitamin D deficiency. According to The Medical Journal of Australia, 31% of adults have low vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels can cause serious health complications that include high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, depression, infections, muscle weakness, heart disease, cancer as well as osteoporosis. During the winter month, the number of people with a vitamin D deficiency increases due to less and weaker sunlight hours.

Vitamin D is a hormone that controls calcium and phosphate levels in the blood. It is second only to iron, as the most influential steroid hormone in a functioning healthy body. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is not found in many foods .It is produced when the skin is directly exposed to the ultra violet rays in sunlight and interacts with the melanin. Sunscreen and shirts, although they protect against skin cancer, put a barrier between your skin and the ultra violet rays therefore, they do not allow your body to produce vitamin D.

People particularly prone to vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Dark skinned people, as they require approximately 6 times the amount of sunlight to create the same amount of vitamin D
  • Obese people
  • The older population
  • The sick
  • The very young

To increase your vitamin D levels there are a few things you can do.

  • Eat oily fish and eggs as they contain vitamin D naturally
  • Margarine and some milk has had vitamin D added to it
  • Spend 6-8 minutes a day in summer and 26-28 minutes a day in winter, directly exposured to the sun, outside the hours of 10 am and 2 pm.
  • Exercise daily as this increases vitamin D absorption .

Should you have a low vitamin D levels, treatment is simple.  Your doctor will check your levels with a blood test and prescribe the appropriate number of vitamin D3 tablets.You will take these for several months or longer. You may possibly need to continue taking vitamin D3 longer term to ensure your body continues to function well.

Don’t risk your health. Take a walk in the sunshine daily, and have your vitamin D levels checked regularly.

Guoliang Tunnel

What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?

Up until the early 1970’s, Gouliang village, high in the Taihang mountains, Henan Province in central China had a big problem. They were isolated from the outside world except by climbing down a ‘sky ladder’, which were steep narrow stairs carved into the side of the mountain joining the top of the volcanic cliffs with the valley floor below. There was no road. Anything coming in or going out of the village needed to be carried via the stairs.


Guoliang Village cut off from the world before the tunnel.

In 1972,the village elders became more and more frustrated with the government as they continued to reject their requests to build a road down the mountain. As a result, the village elders decided that the policy of if you want something done do it yourself was the only way to solve this problem. So the villagers sold everything they could to buy hand tools and selected 13 of their strongest men, who began the arduous task of hand cutting a tunnel through the rock. Below is the entrance to the tunnel and as you step into it, you become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that the villagers had undertaken and are inspired by the gift the tunnel has given the world.


Interior view of hand cut tunnel entrance

Building the Guoliang Tunnel took 5 ½ years patience and determination. It is 1.2 kilometres in length, 5 metres high and 4 metres wide. It has been described as the 2nd most scariest road in the world and cost several villagers their lives. Forty years later the legacy of this tunnel—built as a life line to a small village—has become an international tourist attraction.  Guoliang village is now recognised as  China’s number 1 movie and television set,  which make the villagers a lot of money. According to James Packer the next ten years will see the Chinese film industry become bigger than Hollywood.  So as you can see the legacy of the tunnel is bigger than the villagers could have ever dreamed possible and has given them a lot of power.  Now if their requests are not met by the government—they simply shut down access to the tunnel until they get their way as happened in 2011.


Comparison view. Note size of car compared to tunnel


Base view of tunnel from the Guoliang village.

This remote part of China is difficult to get to. While it can be done on public transport, we had a guide take us and the journey took all day. It was however an amazing experience and one I would recommend to anyone travelling to central China. The Guoliang Tunnel is an inspiring example of how something planned for one purpose can open doors that were never believed to be possible. What doors do you need to open that seem too difficult—by taking steps in the right direction you never know where it will lead?

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is Mothers Day, the day we celebrate and thank all our mothers. I am lucky enough not only to have regular contact with my mother but also my step mother and my mother-in-law, who all play a significant role in my life and have helped shape the type of mother I choose to be.

There is a statement that says “if the mother is okay, the family is okay”, I believe this to be true, what do you think? Mothers are the stabilise the family. The person who put everyone’s needs above their own to ensure the family functions as well as it can, despite whatever else is going on. While, at times this can be admiral, it is important that mothers teach their children to meet their own needs and grow into independent thinkers, who can take care of themselves. As a mother what are you teaching your children?

Happy Mothers Day


Thanks for everything!