Los Muíños do Picón e do Folón

A couple of miles from O Rosal the road begins to climb gently into the mountains. Built to harness the Picon and Folon rivers, the first mill dates from 1702, with 60 eventually completed. They remain well preserved and linked by a hiking trail. Despite their entirely functional purpose, they manage to have a wonderful symmetrical pattern in two areas. The trail sneaked up the Campo do Couto  mountain and the mills started to come into the view. They are in surprisingly good condition, with small irrigation channels running between them. The water usually runs directly through the mills, which…

Zanzibar of the Mind

Let me be brutally honest here. There are some languages that flow rhythmically and poetically from mouth to ear like some glorious Shakespearian, Mozartian love child – German is not one of them. In truth I have grown quite an affinity to the German people since being released by the cultural grip of semi disdain and suspicion often still experienced in England. Give me a a bushy mustached Hans in a lederhosen as a drinking buddy any time. That being said, a torrent of German still feels like I’m being flogged with cat and water boarded at the same time.

Ha Giang – Part 1

Ha Giang province, 320 km north of Hanoi,  conjures up images of the mystical. Towering mountain passes, endless valleys and wondrous colors depending on what time of the year you visit. The province shares a border with China, and is one of those ‘politically sensitive’ areas – making it relatively untouched by the sweep of mass tourism across the country. It has become known as Vietnam’s final frontier.

Five years – Part 1

Two important anniversaries seem to have converged at once. The first being that I reached a year in Vietnam. Itself an achievement  as it’s the first time in over six years I have spent a year in one place. A sense of achievement mixed with a few jitters. But when I thought further back something seemed to be even more important.