Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Anti-Government Protests in Bangkok - Taking It To The Streets

On Sunday, 22 December 2013, Thailand’s opposition parties staged major demonstrations in the country’s capital designed to disrupt traffic and tell the government they wanted major reform of government processes. The crowds promised to be among the largest ever assembled in the history of the Kingdom. They had already announced they would be boycotting the elections promised by caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra, scheduled for February 2014 following the dissolution of Thailand’s parliament on 9 December The message is a whole new system, though how such change is to be undertaken is unclear, as the country would still need to be run in the meantime.The crowds began gathering early in the morning at major junctions all over Bangkok. At Democracy Monument the major boulevards were closed to traffic. Instead of being impassable to traffic they were now blocked by pedestrians. Giant marquees were set up and public address system too. The police were entirely absent. The demonstrators were well organised and good-humoured. They had appointed traffic controllers at major intersections to divert traffic. Many buses on Bangkok streets weren’t running or operating truncated services.The banners asked ‘Why are you afraid of reform?” and asking for free and fair elections, declaring ‘our votes are not for sale’. There were caricatures of the former Thai prime minster, Thaksin Sinawatra, deposed by a military coup in 2006. Hand held signs referred to him as a

New Zealand Football's Mexican Stand-Off - 20 November 2013

The play-off for a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil second leg in Wellington on 20 November was in stark contrast to four years before at the same venue.  New Zealand had just been ‘thumped’ 5-1 by Mexico in the cauldron of the Azteca Stadium, one of football’s most iconic grounds. Prospects for qualification in the home leg were

Like a Hurricane - 28 September 2013

They call Chicago “The Windy City” but it has nothing on New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Whereas Chicago’s moniker was apparently derived for the hot air and rhetoric of local politicians, “Windy Wellington” is so named because it is just that, bloody windy; like a hurricane.Old sailors’ claimed that below latitude 40 degrees south there is

White Cockies Can Bite - 30 August 2013

On what was once the outskirts of Melbourne, at the foothills of the Dandenong Range in Scoresby, 25 km from Melbourne, are the Caribbean Gardens. There’s a lake, Lake Caribbean; markets, the Caribbean Market. Nearby are the Caribbean business park and a large display yard full of boats, Caribbean boats. The market is a drive away. Like just

Shake, Rattle and Roll - 26 July 2013

Wellington is one of the most earthquake-prone cities in one of the world’s most earthquake ridden countries, New Zealand. The city sits along a series of major fault lines where every day thousands of people live and work. On average, there is an earthquake every 30 seconds, most of them too small for people to detect. The “big one” locals tell

Slow Road to the Fast City - Phnom Penh to Saigon - 31 May 2103

The road from Phnom Penh was narrow, uneven and the much promised leg room for passengers only held true if you were Cambodian.  Traffic was slow, often reaching a near crawl behind agricultural machinery towing trailers packed with passengers or avoiding bicycles or overloaded motos, all competing for too little space offered on National Route