Michael Batson

Travel Writer





My Son – Circles of Kings in Lands Below the Winds - 21 February 2019

One of the sights to see near the Vietnamese tourist hotspot of Hoi An is My Son, Vietnam’s most important centre of the ancient Champa Kingdom and another UNESCO World Heritage site in this most fascinating country.  While Hoi An ancient town is regarded as an exceptionally well-preserved example of a multicultural Southeast Asian trading port developed over centuries, one of many that once dotted the coast, My Son’s survival has been a struggle and by comparison, quite astounding. Over time, My Son has been: lived in, worshipped, added to, fought over, built and rebuilt, studied, described, depicted, photographed, flooded, bombed, mined, restored, admired and now, tramped over by tourists (290,000 of them in 2017). There’s been the usual episodic relic raiding pilferers over time, the plague of archeological wonders worldwide whenever they come into contact later with the less desirable side of human nature; but these were followed by the might of the US air force, bombing on an industrial scale, and army demolition teams choppered-in armed with high explosives. Few other, if any, such heritage sites considered to be of outstanding universal value have endured in the wake of such forces. Clearing the unexploded remnants of war including landmines is ongoing, so best mind how you go. The My Son “Sanctuary” is a remarkable architectural ensemble that developed continuously over a 1,000-year period, between the 4th and 13th centuries CE. The write-ups

Hoi An - Living in the Past - 24 January 2019

Hoi An is a firm favourite on the now well beaten tourist path in Vietnam. Together with the less popular destination for backpackers, Da Nang (or Danang, previously Tourane to the French), it marks about the half way point geographically in the “S” shape bend of Vietnam, the top of the bulge into the South China Sea. The tourists come here

Nha Trang - The Real Contender - 26 December 2018

Many places lay claim to being the best bay in the world, but Nha Trang has serious qualification and is a real contender.  It is called the best beach in Vietnam, in a country full of beaches and is frequently ranked by travel magazines as among the best bays in the world. Locally it’s also known by some as the Pearl of Vietnam and by

Mui Ne - The Sheltered Cove - 30 November 2018

I went to Mui Ne (M-oo-e Nay) on my first visit to Vietnam in 2006. Back then it was, as it is today, a bolt-hole for the Saigonese, and had been added to the foreign tourist destinations a few years earlier. Tourists started coming here in the mid-1990s to see a solar eclipse albeit, thanks to certain guidebooks, by mistake, and wound up at the

Silk Island, Cambodia - 30 September 2018

To reach Silk Island from Phnom Penh you head over the Japanese Bridge on National Route Six. Once over the bridge you arrive onto a sliver of land squeezed between the Tonle Sap, the river that flows from the great lake in Cambodia’s north, and the Mekong, the river that comes from China.The Japanese “Friendship” Bridge isn’t the

The Tale of Two Tyrannies - 20 August 2018

Have you heard the joke about the elections in Cambodia and Zimbabwe? There isn’t one but perhaps there should be. Both countries have been effectively in the grip of single party rule for over 30 years. Both countries recently held elections with altogether predictable results, the incumbent parties won, again; Zanu-PF ((Zimbabwe African

Hua Hin, Queen City - 20 May 2018

I’ve been past Hua Hin on the bus and on the train a few times, always at night. Usually there’d be a brief stop to drop people off or pick them up; so my impressions were generally fatigued, blurry and in darkness. I’ve flown over the beach resort as well, an entirely different perspective and one with a subsonic, high altitude detachment. The

Never The Same Place - 17 March 2018

Someone once said you never really recapture the first level of enchantment you found with a place after the first few visits. That invariably things change, and that while you hope those changes mean local people see improvements in life, that for you, things are never the same again. If I look back on the places I’ve been, I think that’s