Michael Batson

Travel Writer

Vietnam

Cambodia

Other

Travelogue

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 others as the Riviera of the South China Sea.  Nha Trang is beautiful and pleasant, having the lowest humidity in the country. I was told by expat residents it has a “Mediterranean climate but in the tropics” but climatologically it’s more accurately defined as a tropical savanna – the antithesis of the climatic tropical monsoon which is largely the norm hereabouts. I noticed the all-day sun glistening off the South China Sea where the water is always seemed calm.  It has history, charm, great weather and good food. I liked it already. The city sits in a country in one of the most coveted parts of the world where geo-strategists will tell you “the great powers collide”. There is always China, from the first century BCE to now and the rising tensions in the South China Sea. There were the European imperialists and the French colonialists. British soldiers occupied Saigon in 1945 and in going well beyond their remit, killed Vietnamese. There had been Japan and then the US, the latter bogged down in a multi-billion dollar televised war we’ve all heard about and many remember first-hand. In the 1400s

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

Kampong Chhnang - Port of Pots - 4 December 2017

Kampong Chhnang is world famous in Cambodia for its earthenware pots, sold from one end of the country to the other in every market, and used for all kinds of things by all kinds of Cambodians, rich, the few; and the poor, the many. National Route Five runs right through the town and the eponymous province, which is landlocked, fertile, and