Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Angelina in Ha Noi

Wednesday 19 May 2010Today is the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ho Chi Minh, founder of modern Vietnam. Though he died over 40 years ago, and did not live to see the unification of the country after the defeat of America in 1975, his picture is still everywhere.Out walking on my first night in town, I bumped into Quoc next to the “Lucky Tree”. He told me the tree was considered lucky because of the intricate root structure, which drew water and therefore life. Among the interwoven knots of the truck were bundles of incense burned to their base as offerings. Quoc said he was from a province 100 kilometres south of Hanoi. There was little work there he said, and problems with the electricity. Things were, as he put it, a little boring.He had studied English for 10 years in the hope of getting a job as a government officer. This would be difficult he said, because to be a government officer you needed to be a communist party member and then another party member would have to recommend you for a post. He spoke of the trade between Vietnam and New Zealand, which he expected to grow along with that of Australia. He thought this promising for the future of all three countries. He now worked in a hotel but had finished for the day and was off to see some friends. He asked me for some money to buy books so he could continue his studies.Young Vietnamese can be seen sitting in coffee shops texting on mobile phones, the more affluent, at least the women, are expensively


 Monday 17 May 2010Thailand has been accepting tourists increasingly in their droves since the Vietnam War, when American GIs kicked off the whole tourist thing using the country attractions to escape their war experiences. US military planners used other parts of the country to stock, supply, maintain and operate their mass machinery of

Black, white and red all over - in the Kingdom of Smiles

 Thursday 13 May 2010If you’re going to arrive late at night by plane in a city it may as well be Bangkok, at least it’s open. The travellers’ advice centre in the terminal advised me that staying in my chosen area down by the river was inadvisable as the police would soon start clearing out the Red Shirt demonstrators. After giving it