Michael Batson

Travel Writer

Vietnam

Cambodia

Other

Travelogue

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 remote.More than anything else, the match showed the gulf in class between a team from Oceania ranked outside the top 100 and one of the world’s perennial powerhouses, and current Olympic champions. While the match was a boon for the local economy staging the game, it pointed to long-term issues affecting the game in New Zealand; namely where they should be playing in future and how. Four years previously, New Zealand’s ‘All Whites’ faced weaker opposition in Asian contenders Bahrain, who had been kept scoreless in the first leg played in Manāma. All the home side had to do then was repeat the feat of the first leg and score, which they did on half-time. To cap off a magnificent night for New Zealand football, goalkeeper Mark Paston, saved a penalty in front of the full house, and the they went on to become the only unbeaten team at the World Cup in South Africa. This time it was different. Outpaced and outgunned by Mexico five days earlier, even without their overseas players to call on, New Zealand had defended largely in the final third. Defending in depth is based on closing the opposition down. New Zealand didn’t do that. They

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

Slow Road to the Fast City - Phnom Penh to Saigon - 31 May 2103

The road from Phnom Penh was narrow, uneven and the much promised leg room for passengers only held true if you were Cambodian.  Traffic was slow, often reaching a near crawl behind agricultural machinery towing trailers packed with passengers or avoiding bicycles or overloaded motos, all competing for too little space offered on National Route

Landmines, Temples and Crocodiles - Siem Reap - 30 April 2013

The town itself stretches north to south along the Siem Reap River and east to west along National Route Six.  Siem Reap literally means “Siam Vanquished” and was the administrative and spiritual centre of the bloodthirsty Khmer Empire, which rivaled the Roman in size before it somewhat mysteriously crumbled.  Siem Reap has been receiving

Hua Lamphong and the Siam Railway - 30 March 2013

In the Pathum Wan District near the geographic centre of Bangkok sits Hua Lamphong, the city’s premier train station. Officially, it’s known as the Bangkok Railway Station, but nearly everyone calls it Hua Lamphong or “Who Lam Pong” depending on your pronunciation.  Hua Lamphong was once the grand old lady of the Siam Railway. These days it’s