Michael Batson

Travel Writer





The Girl in The Sandals - Ha Noi Army Museum - 21 May 2010

Last time I was herein Ha Noi the Army Museum was closed. Also called the Military History Museum, it’s well worth a visit. Entry is reasonable at 20,000 dong (just over US$1) and the same again if you wish to take photos. The price is standard price for entry to cultural centres, designed for affordability for Vietnamese, who pay the same price and visit such places in their droves.  One room upstairs was given over to the battle of Dien Bien Phu that defined an era, ending French colonial rule in Vietnam and the region. In it were displayed captured French weapons, uniform regalia of captured French officers, photographs, including one of vice president Richard Nixon visiting Vietnamese soldiers loyal to the colonial government at the time, but not at site of that battle.The screen showed a documentary from footage taken at the time. The rows of bench seats were filled with Vietnamese families. When the show ended, they left, and the English version began, so I got the place virtually to myself. Unfortunately, the officials appeared uninterested in showing the entire 13 minutes to a single foreigner (I could tell the film duration thanks to the Windows media toolbar at the foot of the screen) and switched it off after it barely got started.The battle of Dien Bien Phu was significant for it was the location where France chose to battle the Viet Minh, the Vietnamese communist forces head on, for control of the country. The French Indochina War had dragged on

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


 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