Michael Batson

Travel Writer

Vietnam

Cambodia

Other

Travelogue

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 no law, and below 50 degrees, no God. Here then sits New Zealand vulnerable to just about everything nature can throw at it, earthquakes too. This is because New Zealand is a country that consists of two main long, thin islands located between two wide open stretches of water. Aside from some small scattered island specks there’s little either side for thousands of miles to stop weather fronts moving across the land.Wellington sits plum in the middle of this zone, at the bottom of one island, aside Cook Strait, a rough and watery wind funnel where ocean, weather and tectonic plates collide.Wind is to Wellington what sand is to the Sahara, it wouldn’t be quite the same without it, but it would be nice not to have so much.Non-residents can be complimentary about the city’s notorious weather. “At least it’s not boring” said one. “You never know what you’re going to get from one day to the next”. But then they don’t live in Wellington. It would appear that you know exactly what you’re going to get, you just don’t know which way it’s coming, and how strong or for how long.Few people would say that they actually moved to

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

The Tinat Restaurant - Phnom Penh - 28 February 2013

On the corner of Streets 154 and 51 is one of the best value diners in Phnom Penh, the Tinat Restaurant. The Tinat isn’t included in any guidebook, a blessing in disguise, and the hard working Khmer-Chinese owners do nicely anyway, thanks very much.It’s not on any list of places you want to be, there are no Michelin chefs, no fancy décor, and

Farewell to the King - 01 February 2013

In Phnom Penh on 4 February 2013, the final chapter in the life of one of Asia’s most extraordinary characters will be played out – the cremation of the former King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk. The fact that the King Father as he is known, has been dead for three months is just another facet of a long, fascinating and at times, controversial