Notebook Three: Maeklong Mouth

Creative Travel Plan

In Time We Travel

Notebook 3

The Secret of
The Mangroves


Travelling, pausing and getting inspired.
How Writing Scribbles turned to stories or needed time to germinate into chapters.

Notebook 3 -You Are Here

What The! Notebook

Mouth of the Maeklong

River of Mystery and Intrigue

Incidents, Events, Extracts from My Travel Diary

Includes Journalistic Excerpts - with Links to Chapters in my Novel

Local Transport to The Mouth of the Maeklong

Notes on getting assistance to find the correct bus to the Mouth of Maiklong

Mangroves and walking the Eminence… 

Klong and the village on stilts.

Mangrove extensive area for novel’s protagonist.



Discover the Fiery Red Black Depths of Mt Bromo

Location: Mouth of Maeklong

Fishing-village-Don Hoi Lot
Fishing-village-Don Hoi Lot
Rotunda -The Eminence Don Hoi Lod

Samut Songkhram July 2017

Explore The Eminence

The Eminence & Mouth of the Maeklong

How to get to Don Hoi Lod (from Samut Songkhram) Finding Samut Songkhram Bus Station

The elderly women seemed to know where I had to get to and took the responsibility of shoving me off the the songthaew.

I have established the location that Nick needs to interact with and determine the entry access…

Remembering Restaurant Maeklong
Remembering Restaurant Maeklong

Friendly Helpful Locals

The first time I chose to travel by public transport to the mouth of the Maiklong and visit Don Hoi Lod I expected it could be a challenge. Why, even the name is alternatively spelt Don Hoi Lot.

There are a number of bus stations and the dilemma was which one? As I proceeded along the street there was a shout from a drink stall alongside the road. A couple of guys waved to me to come over. They poured a coke and offered it to me. There were many other stalls and a young lady was joking with these guys while barbecuing sausages nearby. ‘Where you come from?’ they asked as I sculled the iced drink. They chatted for a while and refused payment as they poured another plastic cupful that fully restored my vigor. The sausages smelled so tempting so I couldn’t resist buying a couple laced with chilly. Then walking out to the centre of the road, they pointed me in the correct direction. I headed off down the street with the lingering taste of Thai hospitality mixed with chilly spice. 

Confronted by a choice of left or right at the next T-junction and not having fully understood the following instruction in the Thai/English mix I was given, I asked clarification from the motorcycle taxi guys parked at the kerb. They had no English at all and one darted into a hairdressers shop and emerged with a smartly dressed lady in harem pants.

After learning my aim to find these Razor Clams at Don Hoi Lod she knew exactly how to sort me out. Off we went along the footpath not far, until we turned in through a produce market with wet floors and fish and crabs smelling like fish and crabs, and fruit piled high and spilling across the tables, until finally through the maze we emerged where a collection a trucks with seating lined an area. Immediately she shuttled me up into one that she quickly identified and with a wave from her, the Songthaew was off to Don Hoi Lod. I hoped.

Watching Google maps on my phone for a moment at an odd intersection I thought I was off to who-knows-where as for a short distance we were travelling away from the mouth of the river, but no, we turned back on course and soon I was being pushed off by some wizened mature ladies that had inquired of my destination. I had at last arrived at The Razor Clam Bank—translation: Don Hoi Lod.

Arriving at Don Hoi Lod (The Razor Clam Bank)

View of Sandbank from rotunda and buckets of Razor Clams
View of Sandbank from rotunda

Samut Songkhram -Thursday 8th November 2018

Don Hoi Lod - The Eminence-Mouth of the Maeklong

The weekend was perfect time for a picnic, but what of the incessant explosions.

Picnic at The Eminence
Picnic at The Eminence

Excerpt from "The Singapore Stone"

This Chapter begins after Nick is separated from Megan and ejected from the train as it journeys towards Samut Songkhram

Lost in the Mangroves

The sun is burning hot and Nick’s shirt and jeans are almost dry after his unexpected swim in the pond beside the rail. He has abandoned his wait for the next train. Trickles of sweat are collecting at his waist. 
A few metres along the raised path leads past a deeper tannin stained pond. The trail appears to lead into a clump of trees. The shady copse looks inviting with his rate of evaporation getting serious.

The path has ended at the remnants of a collapsed bridge. The other side is blocked by sheets of corrugated iron and rusty steel mesh that continues along the banks. The shady trees can only be reached by wading through water. A water monitor swims past, tongue darting. Snakes? Nick hesitates in getting into the water. To reach the inviting shade of the trees he decides to start wading across, and slides in off the bank through the reeds. A tangle of slimy mangrove roots and the mesh prevent him gaining access to the path again, so he follows the edge until there is access between via a fallen pole. Clambering over aerial roots the path is no longer visible.

Stumbling deep into the half cleared mangroves and palms he fails to reach the clump of trees he seen earlier. They seem to have vanished. Splashing about until exhausted, hours later he reaches and climbs onto a dry bank of dirt. There is a shack ahead clad with scraps of roofing iron and in the shade of an overhang an old man is seated.
Nick observes a gun resting across his legs. He is dozing and wakes with a start. He swings the firearm up in Nick’s direction and fires.

A wave of water surges over Nick. Regaining his feet he clears the water from his face and sees the carcass of a huge animal in its death throes. It thrashes for a moment. Moving further onto the bank and dodging around the tree roots he places a barrier between himself and the unexpected threat.

‘You move quickly for one new to the swamps,’ says the hermit looking guy. ‘Trouble is you’re going in circles. Passed this way much earlier.’
‘What was that? That odd looking creature?’ says Nick. He is starting to see a pattern of confusion. ‘What’s happening?’
‘Nothing for you to be concerned about,’ says the trigger-happy marksman as he sloshes into the water and pokes the strange beast with the barrel of his gun. It lies motionless. ‘More a figment than anything else.’ Name’s Bernie. I’ve been expecting you.’

Once inside the shack Bernie’s manner changes. His voice  becomes intent and serious as he hauls out a briefcase with papers relating to the adversary Nick is intent on confronting. They talk for some time. He tells of Megan’s grandfather, Leonard Golding’s discoveries.

Outside the monkeys begin screeching and leaping across the tin roof. The clatter renders conversation impossible. Bernie reaches for the Winchester and shoulders through the door. He blasts a volley into trees.
The mangroves were shaking and waves of water gushed around them. The monkeys continue squealing with panic and disappeared through the trees.
A huge shadow darkened the mangroves.
Bernie swung the weapon high and foliage shattered as he fired into the trees.
‘’Head south,’ he shouted, ‘behind the shack, the path leads out of the mangroves. I’ll hold them off as long as I can.’
‘’You don’t know my name,’ says Nick. Thinking, this guys grip on reality is seriously frayed.
‘Don’t matter. Make fast for Calper’s Landing… Calper’s Landing. Tell ’em I sent you.’



The Firecrackers at the Shrine

What’s happening? You’re enjoying the peaceful surrounding when suddenly it’s as if all hell breaks loose. Explosions rattle the air for five minutes.

Relax. It’s part of a regular celebratory feature of the location. Happens every hour or so it would seem.  I have yet to discover the implicit reason so I would welcome an update on this.


We chose to leave the clam digging to the younger ones on this occasion and climbing aboard a longtail powered off up the estuary only a short distance before turning into a wide inlet that within a few hundred metres narrowed to a thirty metre wide creek.

Racing up waterway through mangroves- Don Hoi Lot

Excerpt from "The Singapore Stone"

Escaping the Mangroves

Following Bernie’s advice to head south to Calper’s Landing

After time eternal Nick had struggled through the mangroves and come across an assembly of tall poles rising from the mud of the low tide. Atop the rows of poles are houses with fishing nets draped in colourful display. Below an assortment boats resting on the greasy sediment. By pointing and gesturing he enlists the aid of a fisherman with his boat to take him to what he at last understands— Calper’s Landing. He appears curious as to why Nick is covered in gunk and his reasons for being in the dense tangle of swamp, yet he offers a bucket and cloth to clean himself to an acceptable degree.
Travelling in his boat Nick is aware the mangroves are thinning as the waterway widens. The breese has become fresher and beyond the trees he can see the expanse of the gulf. with the sound of gunfire he looks at his new friend with alarm.
He keeps saying, ‘What…what…,’ followed by further explanation in Thai that Nick has no idea what he is saying.
He is concerned there may be more adversaries delusions or not, despite his attempts to abandon them in the swamps.

Calper’s Landing

Emerging from the creek, the boat enters the main river, where they turn upstream. Some time later the boat bumps alongside a landing.
A sign on the shed in faded lettering reads “Calper’s …” with another board too broken to make out the letters.
The fisherman calls to a man who has emerged on the balcony above.

Two hours later Nick has learnt that this man is Bernie’s nephew. He had made an intensive search for his demented uncle, a noted nuclear physicist who had worked for Julian Lord-Xion in developing the energy fusion plant. Bernie had realised the ethical issues of the methods his employer was implementing and Bernie was believed delivered to this remote place of exile and eliminated. Obviously he’d survived apart from some brain damage. The locals referred to him as “the Moth.” Finally his nephew located him. Despite numerous expeditions to his recluse in the maze of watery forest, his attempts to extricate the apparently demented soul and abandon his retreat from society had been futile.

Nick stays overnight at the nephew’s abode at Calper’s Landing.  He is feeling somewhat forlorn with plans of immediate solution to his quandary being thwarted by the weird string of events the previous day. Yesterday he had wondered if it was too early to play his hand—now he was more concerned if he would ever even get the chance. Would Megan have arrived at the the Facility by now? There was nothing he could do, no contact, stuck here… but… he remembered the segment hanging like a yankee soldiers id tags around his neck. If all else failed he could transmit a location to Todd or Jaegga. He dare not activate contact to Megan for fear of implicating her. She was currently under the radar.

Effect of The Facility

All is silent when he rises at daybreak except for the lonely cooing of birds on the roof. He pushes the door open and it drags across the timber boards. Out on the balcony he gazes across the estuary where a golden wat is gleaming in the first light. Numerous piers line the far shore with boats and small ships moored alongside. Nick leans forward on the railing staring into the distance as mist descends, obscuring sight of the distant riverbank.

‘You like?’ It is a Thai woman and the smell of fresh made coffee drifts over Nick. She hands her guest a huge mug of the hot drink. ‘My name Mok. I come back late night. Boris gone to get Tarone to take you fast boat to Maeklong. Train there you go back. Why you come here? You see last night many spike-fish found on jetty. Old men say not good sign. Much trouble come. You go quick. You see what happen?’

He looked down where she pointed. Piles of shimmering red spearfish lay scattered across the lower decking. Some had impaled themselves on the pylons.
Tell me Mister Nick, what do you think you do here? Wha u do abow problem? You have special…?’ She tapped her head

Maybe you time go to Eminence and Big Rock? Much you study you understand. Have one many river. You maybe not know? I take you. Maybe wait long time Boris come back. He not hurry. Maybe girl talk him I think.’ She pursed her lips and gave a distainful sniff. ‘Come help now.’

She draws the boat to the jetty and as about to set out, sees a trawler passing. She grabbed Nick by the jacket and pulled him down to where she crouched in the boat. ‘Wait here till pass. That boat not good.’  She tried the starter and the battery barely turned the motor. She nodded, followed by shaking her head and spitting over the side. Climbing out she pulled Nick into the kitchen area of the shed.

She spoke in a whisper. ‘What  you find in the swamp after big bang?

How did you know about that?

‘Many people know. You think we stupid and no hear? What you find you tell me?.’

Something we might use to stop more problems from the dangerous man. Like a neutralizer. A sort of stopper. He lifted his foot and brought it down hard, twisting it on the deck.
‘Where now?’
‘I lost it in my sudden departure from the train,’ said Nick. There was no way Megan might still have it. Or was there? His thoughts went back to the sudden departure from the train.
‘Very much bad luck. Many people know much secret— not talk. Some fear. Some much frighten.’
‘Bernie said to show this to Boris.’ He drew the disc from the bag.
She let out a gasp. ‘Show me. I not touch. You hold. I see.’
Her eyes flicked from the medallion and up to the photograph on the wall.
Nick’s curiosity was fired. He nodded.
‘We must go now,’ she continued, ‘to the entrance and meet four sage men.
Maybe stop terrible accident happen. We go motorbike. Keep away red spike-fish.’
She led Nick round the building on the jetty to a lean-to at the side.

Pressing the motorcycle starter all they heard was a click. She drew a slow noisy breath and exhaled. ‘You see what happen. That boat pass, not good. Take power.’
‘Can you use the kick start?’ said Nick.
Six kicks later and still nothing.
‘Dead flat. You get on. We can push start it,’ said Nick. ‘Put it in second gear and get on.’
The motor caught and rattled to life as the bike descended the slope at the end of the timber ramp to the riverbank. Mok twisted the handgrip revving the motor as blue smoke from the exhaust reduced the clear dawn to a fog.

Fifteen minutes later they swung into the parking area at the mouth of the river. She skillfully manoeuvred the bike past oddly parked cars and trucks with engine hoods raised and jumper leads attached. She pointed towards the curve of the path by the water. Nick could see another wat through the trees. She tells him this one was where the fireworks occurred hourly. ‘To frighten the fish away or other reason?’

‘Maybe work slowly,’ she reflects out loud, and appears to ponder on the thought. 
Hurrying Nick on past it until they reached the water, she pointed. ‘Go there in water—you see big rock?’

* * * *

End of extract

Picnic near Shrine at The Eminence
Shrine at The Eminence
Taking a break between trips to the Clam bank
Taking a break between trips to the Clam bank

Touring the Tangle of Mangroves.

Bang-Cha-Kreng- tide out
Bang-Cha-Kreng- tide out

Exploring the Mangroves

Don Hoi Lod. Buckets-full
Don Hoi Lod buckets-full of Razor Clams
View of The Eminence Don Hoi Lot
Lunch in Restaurant with view of The Eminence in the glare

Location of Stone at Mouth of Maiklong

Looking to the left of the chairs is a bright area out from the trees of the Eminence.

This would be the location where Nick would experience the interaction with the wise sages. But can he trust their advice or is this all just his own hallucination.


From Samut Songkhram to Don Hoi Lot at the Mouth of the Maeklong and exploring the Mangroves, this account of my travels shows the location where Nick emerges from his sudden diversion from the train and interaction with characters in his quest to reconcile his dilemma. 

Amphawa Visit – Next Notebook.

Notebook 3 -You Are Here

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