Notebook Two

Creative Travel Plan

In Time We Travel

Notebook

The Great Train Journey

FICTION BENDING REALITY

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

What The! Notebook

By Train from Bangkok to Samut Sakhon

Indonesia

Discover the Fiery Red Black Depths of Mt Bromo

Incidents, Events, Extracts from My Travel Diary

With Links to Chapters in my Novel: "The Singapore Stone"

Journal

Location: Train Bangkok to Samut Sakhon

I am on the train heading west from Bangkok to Samut Sakhon. Looking at my watch it is just past 8am and I relax after the rush to get to the Wangwian Yai SRT train Station early before the crowds.

 

All aboard-Train departing Wongwian Yai SRT Station

Who is the young woman on the ancient bicycle with the parasol?  Should a lone traveler accept what she offers?

Read on and follow the chain of events that lead to the hazardous path through the Lotus Ponds. What is the threat that these strange lagoons present?

For those that brave and survive the confusing mists, are the secrets within worth the risks?

Train to Samut Songkhram

train-at-small-station

Bring along a snack and drink

The journey to Samut Sakhon is about an hour and Travels quickly along the level stretches and slowing as the rails become uneven. Stopping at the tiny stations momentarily it wastes no time until the wait for the train to pass from the other direction about halfway into the trip. Usually there is little delay, but I would recommend packing a snack or two and drink in case of delay.

The Day the Elixir Shook the World

Passing swamps & palms

Wdnesday 14th September 2017

Looking around the carriage I see a monk resting in sleep and complete abandonment of any demands. For a moment consider the same attitude, but check myself from this action (or lack of action), no, I am here to document the trip into the unknown realms and understand the threat the the protagonists face, so I will continue writing.

Excerpt: "The Singapore Stone" (Draft)

Visit to the Testing & Research Site

The traffic was the usual late afternoon Bangkok traffic. Stationary with infrequent movements. Thankfully the air-con blasted a steady stream of chilled air.
Weaving through the heavy traffic, eventually Nick swung out and onto the elevated tollway. He floored the pedal.
The tall buildings, massive billboards and communication towers jutted almost dreamlike through the haze hanging over the city. The sky was growing heavy and low with dark rolling clouds. The sky would soon surely burst with a deluge. An imminent downpour could slow him. It was due at this time of day.
Is Megan already there? He pushes the BM even harder.
Would she become an unsuspecting sacrifice? What was she hoping to gain by bursting in on Julian. Reassured that Anna was with her he felt easier. He still sweated on this as he knew Julian had little concern for anyone other than himself. Devour and discard his nature. His reality.
Could he convince Megan to assist with a successful operation?

He talks on the car phone to Axiom head office in Australia:

Axiom research team fills him in on how Julian acquired the factory. It used to be a produce warehouse. The land alongside he’d also acquired originally was a productive market garden. The testing site needed a quiet location and the unused flooded garden would provide all he needed. 

The satellite imagery plus the sensor device on the dash was proving invaluable. It showed he was nearing the assembly and testing site. Establishing contact would be the challenge. 

Julian is unpredictable. Needs to now initiate operation of the unit replicator, and Megan— and apparently Anna, were unaware of the extent of the danger.

Reaching the end of the freeway, the exit ramp brought him back to the congestion at ground level where the mini busses, late model pickups and assorted cars and taxis still diced with death at high speed. The lights on the sensor were flickering, showing that the replicator was activated. Surely Julian would not risk initiating full power. Nick pressed the pedal harder and slipstreamed a Nissan utility as it careened past.

The sun was turning dirty pink and dipping the horizon when he at last saw the turn to Blan Chat. Braking heavily, Nick pulled the black sedan to the shoulder and with gravel scattering, veered off the highway and into an avenue of lofty palm trees. The multi-sensor’s red and white lights already were already flashing across the screen.

* * *

The road led Nick to the rear of the immense building. He killed the motor and climbed out.
Then he saw Megan. Where was Anna?

On closing the car door he was deafened by an intense throbbing like a thousand choppers directly overhead. Beneath his feet the earth shuddered. A torrent of hot air pulsed from the building.
He scrambled back into the BMW, fired the engine and slammed it into gear.
He could save them. Accelerating, the car screamed backwards a few metres until a massive blast picked it up and hurled it from the road and into the swamp.

END Chapter and Excerpt

pung-waan-skiff
Typical Skiff or punt as used by local for travelling klongs.

Chapter not included where Megan reappears without Anna.

Next morning 

Megan and Nick discovered an upturned punt in an adjacent pond and dragged it to the the shallows. Together they hoisted it onto the levee and drained out the water.
‘We should search the pond where the test was setup.’ said Megan.
‘I’m sure what we are looking for is here.’ said Nick as they flipped the boat upright. ‘A fireball sizzled overhead just before my BM cartwheeled over the bank.’
‘And what was that?’
‘Likely Julian’s device replicated a split second before meltdown. If we can find it then we’ll know that Julian has made progress. Sloshing around in the bog beside the building— or what remains of it would take forever to find anything. It will fill again from the other ponds. We can search that later when we have at least a muddy liquid to float upon.’
He watched the waters swirling through gaps in the bank. Mud gurgling. Possibly even dead bodies.
‘It stinks to high heaven.’ said Megan, wiping her dripping muddy hands on her shorts. She raised an elbow to cover her nose and mouth.
‘By using the boat and the sensor we can scan a large area and keep our feet out of the sludge. Who knows what is beneath the mud and water? Jagged steel–and  wavering gridlines the sensor is reading could turn your head to mash.’

* * * *

Megan stood in the middle of the dhow awkwardly poling him through the flattened reeds.
‘It has to be here.’ said Nick.
The stench of the slurry of mud oozing through the reeds from the neighboring pond was overpowering. Nick was lying full length towards the bow of the boat. He held the detector close above the water and it’s sensor was flashing positive.
Megan shuddered as she flicked a mud-crab from her leg.
The boat wobbled precariously.
‘We are infested by crabs. Make it quick. They’re trying to eat me.’
Nick took little notice of her concerns. He was intent on the device. ‘Meltdown? These things don’t have meltdown. Never. They’re not a reactor, they’re a replicator.’
‘Yea….so…’ She bent down and avoiding the writhing claws grabbed another crab, this one from Nick’s muddy boot.
‘The resulting core must be here. It’s indestructible. Unless? What did Anna know of the Replicator? Had you told her how it operates?’
‘I just filled in some details.’ She tossed the crab into a bunch of reeds.
‘Do you still sense her proximity?’
‘Hard to tell.’ said Megan.
The boat lurched.
‘Careful.’ said Nick
‘You know, I’m still groggy from the explosion. I was out to it for a time.’ 

‘Oh, and thanks for hauling me out.’ said Nick.
‘Miracle you’re not dead. Your late arrival didn’t help. What kept you?’
‘My plane lost its way.’
‘Oh, and how…’
‘Please try and keep the boat steady, I don’t know if this thing’s waterproof…’
‘My guess is it’s good to forty fathoms and if Axzat designed it — probably bulletproof as well. It survived the blast without a dent. Not like your BM.’

At arms length out in front he was sweeping back and forth with the instrument.

Nick wondered if he should implore the turtles of the netherworld. The Chinese mythology. The black turtle of the northern constellation and its seven mansions? Were they able to dive beneath the murk into the underworld and return conveying the information he needed. Were they really, or was the black turtle truly some transcendent species? They said that even if they did speak of futures and secrets, you still had to understand the words. Look deep into your own soul and let your elusive inner sprit interpret the metaphoric messages. Could he put aside his logic and make sense of some confused ideals. I’m getting sun-struck he thought to himself as he pushed his hat back to cover his neck.

Two hours later it was a steamy sweating midday and Megan had eliminated the colony of crabs.
‘Is this still the tropics?’
‘I dunno, turn the boat to the right.’
‘It’s a fair way north, and the equator is south of Singapore.’
‘Concentrate— I’m getting seasick.’
‘Gaze at the horizon for awhile. They say it helps.’ said Megan.

****

All morning they had crisscrossed the large pond, taking turns at propelling the boat and constantly untangling weeds from the boat while negotiating half-submerged trees and palms –remnants of the explosion. At least the sludge had eased and given way for the fresh water to flood back into the pond.
Megan studied the insects darting over the water. She studied the shirt plastered to Nick’s back soaked with sweat. Her own skin prickled but at least the wisp of breeze while standing gave some relief. 
Megan poled the the boat along slowly, avoiding the tangled clumps of water hyacinths, then angled the boat towards the shadows cast by a fallen tree that had at least some remnants of leaves. ‘I’m getting so hungry— I could eat a raw frog.’
‘Maybe there’s some survival provisions in the cabin below.’ said Nick

‘This is a flat bottom skiff, not a cabin cruiser. It’s only about as thick as a plank. A bit like… You have any money? I’ll go and get take-a-way. Must be a shop nearby.’
‘In this backwater? Sure. Look— a dead body.
‘What? Is it Anna?’
‘Can we avoid talking about her do you think? At least try, till we get out of this mush.’
‘Why don’t you believe that she was here?

‘Here try this.’ Nick hauled a small dead monkey from the slush and held it out to Megan.
‘No thanks.’ She kicked it away and water streamed from the carcass. It fell back with a splosh and she thrust it away. ‘Are you achieving anything down there. Seems like I’m doing all the work… Hey, what’s that there? Hold on… Under the branches.’
She thrust the boat around with a precarious wobble and then crouched and pointed beneath a tangle of fronds and wooden frames.
The glare grew more intense by the second.
‘At last, success.’ smiled Nick.
Megan gave shout in her excitement at the discovery.

END Chapter and Excerpt

Journal

Watching the Villages passing by

Leaves from the trees brush past the carriage windows. Palms and large banana leaves…

                                                               … are included in the exotic mix that slap at the windows. One could easily lose an eye by a quick glance out here. Seats are solid plastic formed slightly from some willing volunteer’s molding. The volunteer’s shape was foreign to mine and required some wriggling to gain a degree of comfort.

The train has no food vendor’s as the journey takes only about one hour. We gain speed as the line became somewhat level. Still though, the carriages sway and lurch from time to time. Within the hour we arrive at Samut Sakhon. As we pull into the station there are stalls of immense variety, this time including raw meats and fruit etc and vast rows of clothing, all under a large roof.

Samut Sakhon Overnight Stay

Date : Date blurred -circa 2015

Bicycle Powered Rickshaw Samut Sakhon
Bicycle Powered Rickshaw Samut Sakhon

The following chapter was inspired after an overnight stay at a old Samut Sakhon hotel.

It was the only one that the motorcycle taxi guy recommended and not far from the ferry so as the proprietor insisted I have an air conditioned room, it was okay. It gave me a superb location for an episode in my novel… 

Excerpt: "The Singapore Stone" (Draft)

Location: Train and Hotel Samut Sakhon

Meagan is separated from Nick on the train after he suffers odd effects after drinking an unknown stimulant. She has booked into a old hotel in an attempt to avoid scrutiny.

‘Where was Nick? She bit her nails and stared out the window. She knew he could take care of himself. Sure, but he had the transmitter with him– if he still had the backpack. What hope did she have of tracing Julian…

She recalls the train, and she saw the signs saying reserved for monks, the elderly, and invalids, and thinks maybe she didn’t see the sign above her seat in the carriage:
“Do not sit here unless you are looking for adventure,”
or
“Reserved for adventure seekers. We will be with you shortly.”

In her daydream she saw that all the seats had the same label attached. I had no choice. 
Megan inspected her designer Adidas runners that were now stained a motley grey-green. She dumped the shoes in the shower and flooded them with water.

She picked up the room key with its typically huge wooden tag. The number of her room was crudely burnt deep into the block. She went out the door and locked her room. Down at the the reception she asked if she could make a call to Australia.
The girl failed to understand her request and asked if she was happy with her room. ‘No have Australia telephone, sorry sorry. Have clothes I clean you?’
Megan’s shorts and t-shirt had lingered with the smell of the swamp mud were now jammed in the rubbish in the wrapping taken from the brand new clothes she’d bought. She shook her head and thanked the girl, paid for her room and went back upstairs. She smelt her hair. It still had a lingering odor of the swamp mud. She grabbed the hotel supplied shampoo from the shelf above the basin and turned the shower on full. It had only one tap–cold– and by the crusting on the outlet had lost its spray head long ago. A heavy storm of lukewarm water thundered out to the base. She stripped and allowed the water to pummel her head and shoulders for the second time. Soaping herself vigorously all over with the hair shampoo she attempted to wash away the last traces of that lingering stink, and recalled the desperate fight many years before within the tangle of ropes. She had survived and emerged through that foul mud. If only she thought to buy a large block of soap. She remembered the honey coloured Pears soap the old lady had given her that helped wash away the filth and memory. The semi translucent oval shaped soap with the soothing spirit-raising perfume. She often thought of it when feeling down. I’d be unlikely to find it here, she wondered, Did they even still make it?

With the fan on high, she flaked out on the bed naked. She had barely fallen asleep when she awoke with a start. She couldn’t sleep while her friend was under threat. She leapt from the bed. She had forgotten the stone.
She grabbed the plastic bag from the rubbish bin and ripped it open. The stink of the swamp mud made her gasp. She held her breath until she found the stone in her shorts pocket. Rewrapping the smelly clothes she jammed them back in the bin and pushing the window open, gasped the fresh air.

With bathroom tissues she polished the pearly stone till it shone. It seemed smaller than she remembered.

End Excerpt

Journal

Date : Friday 19th April 2013

Samut Sakhon River Crossing

Ferry over the Tha Chin River to Where?

Location: Samut Sakhon Ferry Crossing to Baan Laem Station

Quaint Ancient Ferry at Samut Sakhon

Why was I directed to the ancient ferry when everyone was embarking the modern vessel? I was the only one taking the trip across the river on this boat.

The girl at the ticket window was pointing and giving a thumbs up gesture as I walked along the raised walkway where the smaller, but quaint ferry was tied…

 ‘…Man take come soon,’ she said when seeing no activity at the empty vessel, I hesitated after buying my ticket..

A mottled crossbreed hound climbed to its feet and barked once (effort has to be rationed in the heat) as I approached, and sniffing carefully inspected my worthiness to climb aboard. Ten minutes later the guy to operate the vessel arrived.

‘Train — Maeklong,’ I said, waving across the river in the general direction I assumed the station was likely to be.

He nodded towards the boat, half dissected my ticket and proceeded to untie the ropes. As it drifted out through the masses of water hyacinths with the mutt barking enthusiastically, despite the heat, reminding the skipper to start the engine— or excited as it had been some time since last crossing— the motor throbbed to life and we forged around and across the rapid inflow of tide. After powering beneath the stern of a large fishing trawler, the angle of attack delivered us neatly alongside the landing on the other side.

The jetty we arrived at appeared almost derelict and shook as the gunwale pressed it. The mooring rope dropped neatly over the bollard. 

The Sweet and Fruity Pick-Me-Up alternative to the Elixir on the Train

Finally I discovered the totally harmless sweet jar of juice.

Earlier, an elixir in a completely different container, had inspired an incident in the protagonists adventure.

Read more

Boarding theTrain at Ban Laem Station

Departing Ban Laem towards Samut Songkhram Maeklong Station

Journey through the salt ponds and mangroves.

Departing the ferry across the river to Baan Laem Station I stepped off the boat on to an old jetty. I thanked the skipper as he waved a hand towards a track leading up to the station. I found it only a few moments walk away. The train pulled into the station after ten minutes wait while the attending dogs almost slept through the event. With ticket in hand, I scrambled aboard and slid into a plastic seat facing my destination. It’s amazing that the uncomfortably hard seats are soon forgotten as the views of river, boats and teak houses and vines and shacks and ponds and condos and factories and markets and diagonally crossing roads distract so compulsively. The regular intrusion of the blast of the train whistle is an additional charge of excitement. A handful of passengers climbed on at many stations on the trip. These platforms consisted of little more than a shelter and slab of platform by a road crossing but invariably displaying a two metre high image of the king in golden robes. Monkeys gathered at one such crossing seemed content with their location and took little notice of the potential for train travel.

Arriving Samut Songkhram

Location: Samut Songkhram

Date : Saturday 20th April 2013

Initial Impression for: Early Morning Rickshaw Ride into the Lotus Ponds

I had walked from the station at Samut Songkhram on a road running parallel to the railway tracks that passed through the town prior to arriving at the terminal near the river. I was hoping to get a photo of the next train to arrive after searching for a new battery for my long superseded camcorder..

Train Arriving at Maeklong

After my walk from the station and grabbing a drink from the 7/11 I heard the bells of the crossing and the train whistle. Darting outside  as I unclipped the camcorder to video the approaching train I barely had time to focus as it chunked with engine roaring slowly (thankfully) across the wide (thankfully again) road before disappearing between the buildings. Looking back now in 2021 I don’t know how many shots I missed with the slow startup of earlier cameras. I guess at least I could travel beyond country boundaries at that stage.

It was while I was resting in the shade of nearby awnings that across the railway tracks rattled the wheels of a bicycle. The image observed, inspired the next instalment.

Revised Section

Excerpt

Polka Dotted Bonnet

[Warm and tropical setting for this scene.]

The Polka Dot Bicycle Girl

A slim thin legged lanky girl casually pedals by on an old bicycle clad in jeans and white blouse. She is wearing a white pink polka dotted bonnet with a cloth extension that hangs down to her shoulders. Almost carelessly, she holds a flowery patterned parasol close over her hair. Is the protection against the hot sun as well as for effect. The shaft of it rests on her shoulder.

Journal

She appeared so casual and relaxed, her long legs thrust in long churning strokes, reminding me of an oil well poppet-head. I could envisage my protagonist having his attention drawn to such an occasion. Immediately following is meeting “The mysterious Lady from the Lotus Ponds,” and was anxious to pursue the plot advance in this amenable location.

I recall the oddly androgynous looking young lady in the photo at the Artists house in Bangkok. But this young woman was intensely feminine— strikingly so, in her natural beauty and manner….

Young Lady cyclist

Artists house -recall photo

Artist's House
I recall the oddly androgynous looking young lady in the photo at the Artists house in Bangkok.

Text on image in the Frame-Translation

Sometime after my visit to the Artist’s House, I inquired of my wife (who is Thai) the text inscribed below the black and white photograph with its conflicting impressions. The almost masculine appearance of the cyclist, the colour retouched vibrant blooms in the basket and the circa sixties bike. 

Roughly translated, the text states that:  “In observation of people, one should not judge on the outward appearance— Rather, look inside and see what is in their heart.”

I Deliberate again on the Undecipered Script. What Does This All Mean?

Is it simply a Proclamation of Victory by the Majapahit Forces when they overpowered Temasek?

Is it an even earlier announcement of the Strongman Badung's legendary strength?

Or what else could be hidden in its message?

There is also a long held belief that if all the sections of the stone are returned then... What was the result of that again?

That final hope could not be fullfilled as now only four sections survive, so the woman in the museum had said. Even this seemed an impossible task if it were to be believed.

Enhanced & Processed Stone script Imaging in an attempt to decipher.
Enhanced & Processed Stone script Imaging

Journal

Is this a clue to the message written on the stone. A message again that I had to get translated. A message that had a deeper meaning from the surface?

Excerpt

A Hidden Message? & Surprise Meeting

A concealed message. Did the face of it reveal clues?

Nick was beginning to wonder if it was so important to translate the chiselled glyphs or should he strive to look inside. But he recalled that the Bengalese workers who fled from the “stone,” in Singapore those years’ past, might have seen something that struck fear in them? Was this still resident when the Chinese were sent in to continue clearing the area? The mere fact that they completed the task indicates they had no such concerns. Much later Sir Stamford Raffles failed to decipher the text, and finally workmen in 1875 shattered the stone with explosives while an observer watched for some treasure and received nothing for their trouble. 

Now he was seeing a young lady who exuded so much beauty, cycle the street where he stood, fanning his face with a perplexing map. What is in her heart?  he pondered,  Does she bear some message, or is she the treasure? Or merely the harbinger— an omen of some future event.

Nick was to receive his answer within moments as with a shout from a group gathered by the nearby shop, he turned to see what it was that excited them.

Continued Next Chapter: The Elegant Woman in the Rickshaw..

Excerpt from "The Singapore Stone"

The motor cycle three wheeler vendor and location inspires
Elegant- lady with parasol

Excerpt Continued...

The Elegant Woman in the Rickshaw…

Everybody turned as the elegant woman in the rickshaw appeared. Crossing the sudden rise of the bridge the rickshaw canopy swayed freely as the wheels of the quaint carriage traced the uneven pavement as the rickshaw drew close. Nick had seen her earlier at the market carefully choosing bright purple mangosteens. He remembered his first indulgent taste of the delicious fruit and his mouth was watering with delight. 

She gave a sharp command in Thai to the rider on the cycle attached to her fascinating mode of travel.

Closer now, he could see that her face was well featured with dark piercing eyes. She scrutinised the accumulated crowds before looking down to raise the strap of a bag to her shoulder. This revealed that on her lap, her hands had all but concealed a smaller bag —and what appeared to be an account book or diary. She must have just emerged from the hairdressers, as her long black hair draped gleaming in ringlets around her face. Nick inhaled the aroma of setting solution, its intensity taking his breath as she had passed. She tossed her curls as she passed  and they settled, drifting about her shoulders in a puff of breeze. She turned to Nick. ‘You are searching for someone… I’ve been expecting you. Please sit with me…’

 

 

Excerpt from "The Singapore Stone"

Drinks at a Cafe with Lady from The Lotus Ponds

The man on the attached bicycle dismounted and withdrew an elegant coloured parasol from behind the seat. He smartly popped it open.

It was a beautiful umbrella of magnificent proportions. Golden beige fringed with tassels that danced and shimmied with every movement.  She reached a delicate hand with crimson nails and grasped the handle. The gilded umbrella almost a spire atop. It looked dangerous.

For a moment Nick imagined the umbrella inverted. It could serve as a cockle boat and carry him beyond the reach of these strange events.

Drinks with the lady from Lotus Ponds

She ordered drinks and while they waited their arrival she explained to Nick that she came from the estate with the mansion encircled by lotus ponds and why she seldom travelled into town.

Nick curled his fingers around the glass of orange juice she had ordered for him— while she sipped the beer with condensed trickles of water trailing down the glass.

* * *

‘Why do you live within the complacent dangerous and languorous waterways?’ he asks with a subtle smile.

Amused by his poetic reveries she replies…  while directing with the tip of her finger the pools of condensed water on the table into circles around his own glass.

She tells Nick that he must get through the maze of paths through the lotus ponds before the sun rises, as the lotus flowers have unique qualities. The blooms exude a heady aroma when the sun first rises and that he will fall asleep with intoxication.

Why don’t I visit this evening instead? he asks.

‘Well you see…’ she stares down at the repeating pattern of flowers on her handbag, picking at the folds before unfastening the catch.’ My father wanders the paths at night to ensure no one attempts to gather the flowers for ulterior purposes.’ She withdrew a lacy fan from her bag and flicks a hair strand from her face before gazing into the distant while cooling her face with a few quick strokes. She turns to stare directly at Nick. ‘He grows weary in the hour before dawn and this is the window when you might enter. Later strange beasts emerge from the lagoons and will disturb your purpose. This is where people say originated the term: “to eat your heart out.” Actually it is these horrific beasts that provide that service. Few have escaped the agonizing and terrible death. I think you have what it takes,’ she looks away and smiles with a sideways glance back at Nick who takes a deep draught of orange drink and chokes.

She takes out her diary and flicking through the pages finds a velvet strip, then turns to a fresh page and writes while she speaks aloud: ‘Nick Campbell, 9 am …sharp.’

‘Will it take me that long to get through. What of those fearsome creatures that do not have my best interests at heart? He pulls at an earlobe. ‘..for my heart,’ he corrects himself.

‘Maybe you will arrive earlier, but that is to allow for any contingencies.’ 

He raises his glass and swallows a mouthful of orange juice, the fizz tingling his palette, while he listens intently to her lilting tone while staring at the bubbles rising in her beer.

The Mansion Encircled by Lotus Ponds.

She tells Nick that she came from The Mansion Encircled by Lotus Ponds. Complacent dangerous and languorous waterways. She was born and learnt her practice in the northeast in ……  not far from the Mekong river.

She rises from the table and beckons to the waiting group to follow her as she enters a nearby shop.

* * *

Next morning she sends her rickshaw and Nick is collected from his hotel before first light. He is dropped at the path through the Lotus Ponds as invited by the Thai/Chinese woman.

On the far side of the village a lane winds through …

Elegant-business-lady from The Lotus Ponds
Korat-city-rickshaw
Rickshaw at Samut Sakhon
Bicycle powered Rickshaw Samut Sakhon

Samut Songkhram Saturday 20th April 2013

Booked in to Ancient hotel with Letters on Couch and Frightful Bird

Becoming unsettled after the odd encounter with the poppet lady and the arrival of the rickshaw bearing the lady from the lotus ponds, I chose an ancient tired hotel for an overnight stay.

Excerpt from "The Singapore Stone"

The foyer was immense with a caged tweeting bird and the couch Nick sat upon was patched with old posters of shows and strange letters that made little or no sense. He’d sculled a Leo beer bought near the rail crossing and was beginning to relax as he waited for the room to be checked. A girl walks past the display of fruit as a central display on a table and takes an apple. Crunching on the fruit startles the previously silent blue bird into frantic antics as the the girl pulls a chair to the checkin desk and sits. She rises a moment later and takes another bite from the apple that she removes from between her teeth and jams in the bars of the cage. The chirping ceases as the bird pecks at the morsel.

‘I turn on air in room for you. How long you stay?’ she asks.

‘Possibly just the one night.’ He looks at the fruit piled high in the basket and back at the receptionist.

‘Fruit you eat if like.’

He glances at the bird cage. 

She gives a wide smile, looks down and opens the register. He recognises her. It is the same young lady he had seen cycling with the parasol low over her head.

The air in the room is intoxicating.

He takes the key and finds his room. It has a metal grid fitted to the window and as is his habit he checks for a fire escape. A substantial door at the end of the passage within a few metres from his room with a chin-up bar substituting as a handle offers escape, but resists entry.

Visiting The Lady From The Lotus Ponds

Delivered to the Lotus Ponds

Nick spent an unsettled night. Four-thirty next morning it was silent outside long before the early deliveries to the shops and markets. A light breeze stirred the awning that hung from the ornate veranda. The minute hand on his watch seemed to have business elsewhere. A lone rooster crowed in the distance, while the moon, a thin crescent, showed little interest. A faint light appeared, shivering as it passed over the railway tracks and grew brighter. The rhythmic squeaking of pedals drifted around him and hung in the air.

Arriving at the Lotus Ponds

Lady-Lotus Ponds and -boat
Lady-Lotus Ponds and -boat
Lotus Ponds swimmer
Lotus Ponds swimmer

Continue Within the Ponds

Nick searches the paths that wind through the waterways, crossing bridges and following steps that twist and turn.

Don Hoi Lod - The Eminence-Mouth of the Maiklong

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


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.

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

Touring the Tangle of Mangroves.

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Come along with me as I explore locations where I continue interacting and researching for propelling the quest my characters need to resolve.  

More Short Story Titles Coming Soon