Michael Batson

Travel Writer





The Beautiful Game in the Kingdom of Wonder - 20 September 2012

Football in Cambodia, the self-styled Kingdom of Wonder, doesn’t scale the heights of the Beautiful Game in other countries. There are no huge stadiums, well, there’s one old one, no large crowds “doing the Poznan” and singing en masse or waving scarves and flags, no massive pay cheques on offer or transfer fees, and no superstars. A few people in Cambodia drive expensive cars, but they aren’t footballers.But the worldwide appeal of football can be seen in Cambodia. On Saturdays in Phnom Penh, kids kick a ball about in the few schools with a park large enough for a game, like Lycee Sisowath between Norodom Boulevard and Rue Pasteur where the pitch is small and almost devoid of grass. All over the country men, boys and girls wander about in various football regalia, usually replica kits of English and European clubs, and national sides like Brazil, and sport shirts bearing the name of Lionel Messi and Didier Drogba. In a roadside stall on a dusty road in rural Cambodia is a poster of David Beckham. At the customs post at Poipet, one of the main border crossings to Cambodia is a life size poster of the Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard. Cristiano Ronaldo advertises hair products. Markets and shops from the Phnom Penh Riverside to the wonderful art deco Central Market, street stalls and family shops in towns across the country sell a wide range of football gear at knock down prices, more if you can haggle.Football, like many other aspects of life in Cambodia, is still

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

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