Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Treasure Island, Pirates and the Bitch from Hell - Ko Samet - 05 October 2012

Ko Samet is rumoured to once have been the den of pirates, and to this day it’s believed there’s hidden treasure on the island. It has gained a reputation as a laid back paradise where the emphasis is on spending as much time as possible doing as little as possible.Ko Samet (also Koh Samed) lies three hours drive east of the Thai capital Bangkok. The island can be reached easily from the nearby cities of Rayong, Pattaya, and as far away as Trat, Ko Chang and the Cambodian border.When tourists first visited the island still had malaria. For years Ko Samet was off limits. In 1981, the Royal Department of Forests (RDF) declared Ko Samet and its surroundings to be a national park, Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet.Historically, Thailand's legendary royal scribe,the poet Sunthorn Phu, was the first one to put this island on the map. His classical epic, the 30,000-word romantic adventure Phra Aphai Manee, a work he began in prison, is largely set on Ko Samet.The jumping off point for Ko Samet is Ban Phe.  From there it’s a 45-minute journey to the island on a converted fishing boat.  I came here on my first visit to Thailand years ago.  I think the fishing boat I took to the island then was the same one.Faster speed boats make the trip in less than half that time. Getting on and off these craft is a haphazard affair, and potentially dangerous given you are also carrying all your gear.  One false move, one surge of the tide and you’d be in the water, bags and all.  Tourists

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

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