A recent request for information caused me to check out “Huay Mai Teng” (“HMT”) on Google maps where, in English, it is listed as Samnak Maiteng. “Samnak”, as you may know, means “office” in Thai and is often used in the nomenclature of buildings and premises under official control. It does not mean “reservoir” as far as I know and has no possible linkage with water in Thai! I presume that because there is an official waterworks (ประปา) office at the reservoir that this is why “samnak” wrongly features in the Google map. So if you want to find the reservoir on Google try entering “samnak Maiteng”.
In real terms you can find HMT the way I did. I opened up an electronic map a few years ago and started looking for lakes and the like in the Ratchaburi area. HMT stands out! On this basis alone I drove out there one day, took a left and kept going and finally arrived at the water edge where I inadvertently came upon some River Lapwing, a seminal moment in my birding experience.
If you simply want to get to HMT then in most cases you will need to drive to Ratchaburi Town, a truly delightful place, offering the best of Thailand, really worth a visit. That means using Highway 4, the Phetchkasem Road; then you need to take Highway 3208, going east, it can only go east from Ratchaburi Town, which leads to the burgeoning and grotesquely fascinating mountain resort of Suan Phueng – a must for sheep lovers!
HMT is about 23 km along Highway 3208 on the left side. It is actually signposted in English as “Huay Mai Teng Reseryoir”. As you drive along the main highway you will eventually come to a long, sharp right bend with a smaller road from it leading to the left; take this road and it will deliver you to the launch/landing area in about 1.5 kilometres. Be advised at weekends and public holidays this area can be quite busy, especially in the afternoon/evening with locals picnicking and swimming; people launch boats here mainly for fishing and sometimes there are jet skis making a terrible racket. You might also venture upon an event here. However once you are here you can get your bearings and from here you can explore the site. Most roads/tracks going left after the sharp right bend lead to the reservoir.
HMT is a very considerable size and of course the level of the water varies in the course of a year – there is a road across the reservoir which has remained underwater for the last two years due to high water level. As I write the bridge in this road has now emerged and is making an excellent platform for local anglers! I would suggest you explore. There are many roads and tracks. The terrain is largely flat but roads get very muddy in the rainy season and rutted when dry. It is easy to get stuck in mud so take care when driving.
In the short period I have been visiting this area it has been subjected to a huge amount of development. More and more habitat is being lost to agriculture including the construction of a large commercial piggery in what was one of my favourite bits. This latter included the installation of electric mains and you can see the concrete pylons as you drive in. Access to this area is now impossible as it has been fenced off: Siberian Rubythroat have been heard in this same area and I have seen Yellow-rumped Flycatchers here on migration. It also provided a popular berth for Oriental Honey Buzzards migrating southwards in September. Fields which are now growing cassava and pineapples were once scrub. I saw and heard Chinese Francolin in this area. I fear for the future of the habitat.
There is now a resort near the reservoir, the Lake Scene, with rooms costing about 500 THB which can be booked via the usual booking sites. There is also a new 24 hour garage and convenience score a few kilometres before you reach HMT and Ratchaburi is a 20 minute drive away. So it’s not exactly venturing into the wilds.
Finally I’d like to know what you see so please email your observations and indeed your experiences. Let me know if you plan to visit because if I am free I’ll happily meet up with you and show you around.