Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Letter to the Jakarta Post - April 2014

I travel widely in Southeast Asia and recently visited Indonesia after an absence of several years. I was disappointed with the state of tourist infrastructure at the budget end compared with other countries in the region.  In particular hotels are of poor quality and overpriced. For 250,000 rupiah (US$27) in Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia you can expect a number of features including; cable, modern air-con, hot water, internet, and a degree of comfort in a clean and well appointed liveable space.Compare this with hotels to be found in cities in Sumatra and Java where room features were a complete lottery and generally of poor quality. Aside from including a basic breakfast; rooms were often small, dark, dated and bathrooms poor. Travel information was often hard to come by and coordinated tourist advice lacking.Not everything of poor quality was old however. Take terminal three at Jakarta airport, the Air Asia terminal. Brand new but every departing passenger I saw was surprised by the departure tax. Seemingly none had been advised in advance of this requirement for which card payments are not allowed. I didn’t know about it as no travel agent had provided advance knowledge of this requirement.Once through immigration, which passengers are required to clear at least one hour prior to departure, no provision has been made for drinking water. There are no vending machines or drinking fountains, and because of security procedures passengers are prevented from

Anti-Government Protests in Bangkok - Taking It To The Streets

On Sunday, 22 December 2013, Thailand’s opposition parties staged major demonstrations in the country’s capital designed to disrupt traffic and tell the government they wanted major reform of government processes. The crowds promised to be among the largest ever assembled in the history of the Kingdom. They had already announced they would be

New Zealand Football's Mexican Stand-Off - 20 November 2013

The play-off for a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil second leg in Wellington on 20 November was in stark contrast to four years before at the same venue.  New Zealand had just been ‘thumped’ 5-1 by Mexico in the cauldron of the Azteca Stadium, one of football’s most iconic grounds. Prospects for qualification in the home leg were

Like a Hurricane - 28 September 2013

They call Chicago “The Windy City” but it has nothing on New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Whereas Chicago’s moniker was apparently derived for the hot air and rhetoric of local politicians, “Windy Wellington” is so named because it is just that, bloody windy; like a hurricane.Old sailors’ claimed that below latitude 40 degrees south there is

White Cockies Can Bite - 30 August 2013

On what was once the outskirts of Melbourne, at the foothills of the Dandenong Range in Scoresby, 25 km from Melbourne, are the Caribbean Gardens. There’s a lake, Lake Caribbean; markets, the Caribbean Market. Nearby are the Caribbean business park and a large display yard full of boats, Caribbean boats. The market is a drive away. Like just

Shake, Rattle and Roll - 26 July 2013

Wellington is one of the most earthquake-prone cities in one of the world’s most earthquake ridden countries, New Zealand. The city sits along a series of major fault lines where every day thousands of people live and work. On average, there is an earthquake every 30 seconds, most of them too small for people to detect. The “big one” locals tell