Michael Batson

Travel Writer

Vietnam

Cambodia

Other

Travelogue

Monument to Democracy, Thai-style - 28 March 2016

Near the main backpacker centre of Khao San Road in Bangkok is the Democracy Monument. Most backpackers wouldn’t know it’s there or if they scan the guidebooks thoroughly enough may give it the quick once over. Largely, it’s ignored or given scant regard. The social life of the bars and restaurants having more appeal, and the guided tours are largely restricted to featuring floating markets, palaces and temples. Pity, as this neo-art deco oddity featuring artwork by an Italian and stuck in the middle of one of the city’s busiest streets has a lot to say about Thai society. Of what it is and what it isn’t, and some of which that can be more easily described than explained. Democracy Monument is the focal point of the European-style Boulevard Ratchadamnoen Klang, a grand, wide road modelled for grandeur with multiple lanes, wide pavements, and lined by rows of trees. The building of the monument was highly unpopular at the time for ironically, it wasn’t very democratic. The locals, mostly Chinese residents and shopkeepers, were evicted from their homes and businesses to make way with barely any notice. More or less it was imposed on people, no consultation, and no appeal. In a portent of things to come then, it was much like a lot of Thai governments. Originally, the monument was built to commemorate landmark events; the end of absolute monarchy in Thailand’s (then called Siam) and the country’s first constitution. You could say that the monument is much like democracy

Chiang Rai - The Very North Of Thailand - 3 January 2016

If you head north from the tourist mecca of Chiang Mai you come to the confusingly named city of Chiang Rai. One-tenth the size of its more famous southern neighbour, Chiang Rai sits near the very top of Thailand, and is one of the country’s oldest cities.It’s an interesting part of the country; a blend of cultures from neighbouring Myanmar

Return to Boeung Kak Lake - 1 December 2015

I recently revisited “lakeside” the area of my first stay in Phnom Penh years ago. The entrance is along Street 93, behind Calmette Hospital off Monivong Boulevard, one of the city’s major thoroughfares. Street 93 is narrow, barely one car-width wide off which run various alley ways. At the entrance is Al-Serkal mosque, Cambodia’s largest

To Live and Die in Southeast Asia - 25 September 2015

Death and taxes are the only things certain in life so they reckon. Well death anyway, some people never pay taxes. Where you choose to live invariably impacts on where you’re likely to die, even how. Some expats choose to live in Southeast Asia and some die there too. Expats who choose to live in Southeast Asia can be misfit, mercenary

Phnom Penh's Traffic Woes Set to Continue - 24 August 2015

Phnom Penh’s municipal authorities have come up with a proposal to cure the capital of its increasing traffic congestion – banning buses. To be clear they’re not talking about municipal bus services in the city, there are none. But from 2016, all buses travelling to Phnom Penh from outside the city will have to establish new bus stations on the

Expats about Phnom Penh - 30 June 2015

Some people go to Cambodia for a holiday. Others never go home. Here are a few I've met.Davey – bar managerDavey was from Hull. This struck a chord with me as I once went out with a lass from Hull or ‘ull. I was able to tell him I’d been down to the old Boulevard ground to watch Hull FC play rugby league. That I knew of the Hull Cheese, a