Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Rub a Dub Markets - 02 December 2012

One of the most easily identifiable landmarks in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, is the New Market or Psar Thom Thmey or simply Psar Thmey. Psar is market and Thom in Khmer means big or grand, so it’s the "New Grand Market". The market sits one block east of one of Phnom Penh’s main thoroughfares, Monivong Boulevard, towards the river occupying an entire city block and is distinctive even from space. On Google maps, it resembles a giant white cross on the cityscape.The Psar Thmay is more commonly referred to in English as the Central Market. It was built in the 1930s during the French colonial period in magnificent Art Deco style. When it first opened it was said to be the biggest market in the whole of Asia. In keeping with many other colonial period buildings in the city, the market is painted bright ochre.The Central Market serves as a landmark, a centre piece in a city which doesn’t really have a centre. It’s comforting to look down the city’s straight streets and boulevards and see its distinctive roof and wings gleaming in the sun. Around it swarms the traffic, like bees around a hive.A few years ago it looked rather dilapidated, it’s facade the victim of the tropical heat. War and years of neglect had also taken their toll. Starting in 2009 it underwent a two year refurbishment, courtesy of the French Development Agency. The Agence Française de Développement spent $4.2 million on renovating the entire building inside and out.The market building itself

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