Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Ten Songs - 5 May 2021

Music can be a very personal thing. For a lot of people music is associated with specific events or times, with people and places, various phases of relationships – good and bad. Music can cover a whole range of emotions.  It can be uplifting or soothing but is rarely both in the same song or piece of music, unless your name is Beethoven. For me music is really about particular times and certain places. I can vividly recall what I was doing when I heard a particular song or piece of music, where I was, who I was with, and even what the weather was like in some cases. These things really stand out which is why certain songs and music always stay with me. They are part of your past, your life, your history. Like books and people, music shapes you, makes you who you are, and can be part of your character. One of the things I always did first when I went to someone’s house was check out what they read but also what they listened to. – but it is a bit different now, people don’t keep physical libraries of their own now, just on hand-held devices. If people read the same books or listen to some of the same music, then there’s an instant connection. Of course, differences can be interesting too, and can lead you in a whole new direction, which may even change your life. When I started out compiling a list of some of the more evocative music for me, of what I have heard over the years, I quickly realised just how hard this can be, especially having heard so many which

The Bình Xuyên and the Battle of Saigon - 7 April 2021

By 1954 Bay Vien (“Bay the Seventh”), an illiterate gangster once impoverished and homeless, had become the richest man in Saigon with immense wealth at the head of a criminal-military organisation thousands strong, and the key to the French presence in Cochinchina. He was the leader of a powerful Vietnamese criminal enterprise decreed by the

East Coast, New Zealand - In Your Own Time - 10 February 2021

Go east they say, it’s the wild side of New Zealand. The East Cape (the Eastland) of New Zealand’s North Island stretches 344kms by road along route 35 from the small town of Ōpōtiki to Gisborne – there’s a shorter route through the Waioeka Gorge on route 2 but you miss all the fun – though the Waioeka has its own attractions. I have driven from

Bars I Have Known - 7 January 2021

Bars can be a great way to meet people, find work, make contacts and get the low down on the local scene where ever you are. They can be melting pots and social intersections. You can meet all kinds of people in all kinds of bars. I have come across: the well-travelled, the educated, the literate, the well-heeled and those not, the working and

'Our' Man in Tokyo, Richard Sorge - 8 December 2020

This Travelogue piece follows on from Richard Sorge; ‘The Spy from Baku’ and ‘The Spy in Shanghai’. Richard Sorge was a master of bluff and a manipulator extraordinaire as well as being a great actor, important for a spy. Being a spy also made him a born liar, the two sharing similar traits, and as with all spy stories the lines between

The Spy in Shanghai - 18 November 2020

This piece follows on from Richard Sorge, Part One, ‘The Spy from Baku’. Richard Sorge was arguably the greatest spy of the 20th century. Ian Fleming, a spy who become a writer, called him the “most formidable spy in history”. John le Carré, a spy who wrote books and later a bestselling author of espionage once called Fleming’s chief

Richard Sorge - The Spy from Baku - 7 October 2020

Richard Sorge had one of the greatest impacts on the outcome of World War Two of any individual, yet most people have never heard of him. He was not a politician or a diplomat, he didn’t command troops, fly planes, captain battleships or even fire a gun, and he never fought in any of the battles. What he had was access to key inside information

Milford Sound - 2 September 2020

Milford Sound lies in Southwest New Zealand in the Fiordland National Park, the largest and fourth oldest of the country’s 13 national parks, the fifth largest park of its kind in the world  and part of the Te Wāhipounamu (Greenstone) World Heritage Site. It has been judged the world's top travel destination in an international survey, and