Michael Batson

Travel Writer

Vietnam

Cambodia

Other

Travelogue

Down on the Corner, Out in Street 178 - 2 September 2019

My second apartment on Street 178 was in 2007. I got the apartment through my mate, Kiwi Paul, who I had met earlier that year in the Riverside Bar on Sothearos Boulevard. The Riverside is a corner bar in a grand colonial building in rustic colours with white shutters, unlike many of the other colonial era buildings in Phnom Penh, which are usually shades of mustard yellow or ochre. It was then owned by a guy who said he was Austrian, so people wouldn’t think he was German, but he was in fact, Polish. I mentioned to Kiwi Paul I was looking for somewhere to live and he said the place above him had a sign for rent. It was on the top floor of a three-story shophouse above an art shop. The shop, like many other art shops on the street, sold heavy, dark wooden sculptures, stone or plaster busts of Buddha, which in Cambodia tend to resemble the great monument builder king, Jayavarman VII, and those stylised brightly coloured paintings depicting rural Cambodia life, together with landscapes featuring Angkor Wat at sunrise, sunset and just about all other times in between. Finding accommodation in Phnom Penh as an expat can be very easy. That’s one of the great things about the place is the degree to which you are able, as an outsider, to slot in and in no time it seems like you’ve been there forever. Places for rent or for sale are often advertised by a sign hung from the balcony, so all you need to do is walk around the streets in your preferred area and keep an eye

Living on Street 178 - Phnom Penh - 3 August 2019

Street 178 in Phnom Penh runs in a straight line west to east from one of the city’s main boulevards, Monivong, and finishing at another, Sisowath, at the Tonle Sap near the junction with the Mekong River. It is bisected by another of the city’s main thoroughfares, Norodom Boulevard – Street 41, which runs from Wat Phnom, from which the city

Kanchanaburi - On The River Kwai - 8 July 2019

The small city of Kanchanaburi sits at the base of the Tenasserim Hills on the edge of the flood plains of the Chao Phyra, the River of Kings, in what was once jungle. The hills border Myanmar and shelter the Kingdom of Smiles from the typhoons of the Andaman Sea. They also provide a physical barrier between the two countries, long-time rivals

Places I’ve Stayed – A World-Wide Guide – 31 May 2019

I’ve stayed in everything from a 5-star hotel in Singapore to a decrepit pension in Cairo resembling a building site, to a bed and breakfast in a high-rise in the backstreets of communist Budapest. I’ve slept in huts made of branches on the beach in the Sinai Peninsula, on a promenade in Monaco with the pavement for a pillow, bamboo huts in the

Seven Hours to Son My - 22 April 2019

I once spent over seven hours on the back of a motorbike to go from the tourist town of Hoi An south on National Route 1 to Son My in central Vietnam, and back again. The trip was an endurance test in how uncomfortable small motorbikes can be on large European frames on Vietnamese roads. Travelling on National Route 1 (or 1A), which runs 2300kms

Marble Mountains and China Beaches - 21 March 2019

South central Vietnam has its share of people-made wonders but hereabouts has its natural attractions also. Just south of Danang squeezed between the South China Sea and the rapidly encroaching suburbs of Vietnam’s fifth-largest city are the Marble Mountains (Ngũ Hành Sơn). Holy hideaways used down through the ages by the Cham peoples through to

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