Michael Batson

Travel Writer

Vietnam

Cambodia

Other

Travelogue

In The Ghetto - 14 July 2012

Khao San Road (pronounced “Cow sarn”) is the main backpacker mecca for foreigners in Bangkok, Sukhumvit being another. The road itself is located in Banglamphu or Farang-Lam-Phu, as it’s jokingly referred to after the Thai word for foreigner.The more cynical call it “Khao Shit Road” and it has been described as the perfect example of a backpackers’ ghetto. Khao San is sanitised, but more Bali than Ibiza. You can now eat at fast food chains and Thai restaurants sell pizza.If you want somewhere with grit and an edge, go to Cambodia. Khao San’s tourists are usually youngish, though not all, and invariably Western. They do what young tourists do, party, eat, drink and compare notes.  Here they are in Lonely Planet Ville, Bangkok, all thinking they’re doing something different, but usually aren’t.  They merely emulate everyone who’s been before and doubtless will follow after, regardless of military coups and riots, and are just this week’s version of every other edition.  Khao San and its surrounding area is the arrival and dispersion point for some of the 20 million or so tourists who visit the Kingdom of Smiles every year. According to some statistics, Bangkok is the third most visited city on Earth. The area is a one-stop shop for tourists. Travel agents and hotels arrange tours and travel. Tourists leave the ghetto only for the Bangkok sights or onto somewhere else. A steady fleet of mini vans ensure they reach the airport and transport elsewhere in Thailand; from

Where The Streets Have No Names - 25 June 2012

Phnom Penh is a city where the streets have numbers rather than names save for the main thoroughfares, though some have both. As someone once commented, “the thing about Phnom Penh street names is that they are fun for every purpose except the obvious – identifying where you are or where you are going.”Some street names have changed over time

Great Walls of Glass - 9 June 2012

Changi International Airport at Singapore is much like the city itself; neat, ordered, clean almost sterile, and almost wholly without character, though to be fair the city has Little India and Chinatown.Changi is an airport like many others but run with all that efficiency synonymous with the island state. Singapore has two great qualities

The Bizarre Temple at Banglamung - 28 May 2012

About 100 kilometres southeast from Bangkok at Banglamung near Pattaya in Chonburi is the Sanctuary of Truth, one of the strangest sights in Thailand. Touted as “The Magnificence of Heaven Recreated on Earth”, the Sanctuary of Truth is a huge structure made entirely of carved wood and looks like a temple of the bizarre from some giant film

On Deadly Roads - 20 May 2012

Someone once said that nowhere is a good place to have a traffic accident but in Cambodia it can be worse than most other places.Travel in Cambodia can be wonderful and a real eye opener but it’s a fact that almost four people a day die on roads in Cambodia, and hundreds more are injured in thousands of crashes.For victims, foreigners and

Nahkon Ratchasima - The Gateway to Isaan - 7 May 2012

Northeast of Bangkok is Nahkon Ratchasima, capital city of the province of the same name, and lauded as the gateway to the great northeast of Thailand. This area is known as Isaan and home to 25 million people; a country within a country, the rice bowl of Thailand, and the poorest region in the land.The city, also called Korat (or Khorat) a

Mangroves and Mountains - Koh Kong - 27 April 2012

Koh Kong is about six hours by bus from Phnom Penh, part of it along Cambodia’s most dangerous road and the rest through some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, the Cardamom Mountains.National Route Six heads west from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville across the flat expanse of Kompong Speu, a province known in Cambodia for its numerous

Where the New Years are Big and Plentiful - 20 April 2012

New years are big and plentiful in Cambodia, they recognize three in total; the international day; Chinese New Year and the Khmer New Year of these the latter two are by far the more celebrated, all these in a country already awash with public holidays.The Cambodian New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey, which in Khmer literally means “Enter new