Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Bridge Over Troubled Waters - 12 December 2010

Cambodia is a country which has experienced more than its fair share of tragedy, some on a scale barely comprehensible to most foreign observers. This year, what was supposed to be a celebration of the Water Festival, turned into disaster on Diamond Island near the capital, leaving many questions unanswered as to why, in a country not noted for neither transparency in government nor the accountability of its institutions.Though largely landlocked, water pays a critical part in Cambodian life, in an area where the monsoon is both too heavy and too short. Near the end of each calendar year is the season of holidays and anniversaries in Cambodia, in a country not short of either.  The end of the rainy season is marked by the Water Festival, Bon Om Touk, and it’s the biggest party of the year in Phnom Penh.If you ever go to Cambodia, the Water Festival is well worth a look.The festival in Cambodia takes place each year in late October or November, at the time of the full moon.  It is the most exuberant festival in the Khmer calendar outdoing even the New Year celebrations, for which Cambodia observes three; the Khmer, the Chinese and the international.On 22 November 2010, at the close of the festival, thousands of festival-goers jammed the two-lane suspension bridge over the Bassac River from Diamond Island. They panicked when the bridge began to sway, setting off a deadly stampede. The island was the site where tens of thousands had flocked for a free concert at the

Life and Death on the Coast - 3 December 2010

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island has some of the most stunning scenery to be had anywhere on the planet. The life of Coasters is shaped by the rugged beauty of its landscape which contains a lethal legacy clearly illustrated by recent events.To drive the coastal road of the West Coast is to privilege one of nature’s wonders

Above Us Only Sky - 7 November 2010

The plaque at Liverpool’s airport contains an apt excerpt from the eponymous John Lennon’s song Imagine, ‘Above us only sky’.In that football mad city, England’s most successful club side, Liverpool, the red half of Merseyside, is currently suffering its worst start to a season in decades.Liverpudlians (colloquially known as “Scousers”) are

Korea - The North, the South and the Moon - 31 October 2010

Korea is two lands with a penchant for the greatest choreographed spectacles on Earth, big industries and the world’s largest weddings, all divided by the world’s most heavily fortified military zone and one of only two last vestiges of the Cold War. The Korean people appear polar opposites divided politically, militarily and ideologically

Nullifying the Opposition - 18 October 2010

According to the game’s commentators, rugby league is apparently all about banana kicks and nullifying the physicality of the opposition, or something like that. The Rugby League Four-Nations is about to take place in Australia and New Zealand from October until November 2010 featuring the host nations, England, and the 2009 Pacific Cup

It's The News But Not As We Know It - 11 October 2010

The media in Britain covers the whole spectrum from the ridiculous to the sublime, whereas New Zealand just has, well, the mediocre.At the recent annual television media awards, Television New Zealand (TVNZ) News  beat the competition to be named news channel of the year for New Zealand in a competition of two, well, three – almost.Hardly a

Let the Games Begin - 3 October 2010

The Commonwealth Games are here. Terrorism, racism, burning effigies, exploitation, poverty, masses of security and, oh yeah, then there’s the sport.The XIX Commonwealth Games are about to get underway in the Indian capital, New Delhi, but not without more than it’s share of problems associated with hosting multinational sporting events.  The

Never mind the Traffic

Never mind the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City or murderous roads in Bolivia, driving in New Zealand can be just as lethal.New statistics show New Zealand road deaths are among the highest in the world per capita, alongside Cambodia, Malaysia, Lithuania and Slovenia.Per capita, Kiwi road deaths last year were the ninth highest, with 8.9 deaths

Boca Juniors - The Chocolate Box and the Cake Tin - 24 August 20

The Wellington Phoenix football team has only been around for a handful of years playing against teams from Australia in the Hyundai-sponsored A-League.  For a team with a mix skilled squad they recently managed a remarkable feat, beating a team with one of the greatest pedigrees, Boca Juniors from Argentina.Granted Boca had left most of their