Maeklong Railway Market
One of the craziest and interesting sights in Bangkok is a trip to the Maeklong Railway Market. What makes this market unique is that a train runs through the middle of the bustling market several times a day! This very concept fascinated and intrigued me. I booked a cab and drove to this market, which is roughly an hour from my hotel (Holiday Inn Express, Sukhumvit 22) in Bangkok.
When I reached the market, I was amazed at the sight in front of me. I never imagined a full fledged market being set right in the middle of the railway tracks! The produce was not only close to the tracks – some of them were placed on the tracks! Fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, crabs, spices – this market had it all. Even in early morning, the place was crowded and busy with locals buying their groceries.
The single railway track serves as the narrow lane with market on both sides of the track. Maeklong Railway Market has been around since 1905. It is one of the largest fresh seafood markets in Thailand. The market is also nicknamed as “Talat Rom Hup” in Thai which means – “Umbrella Pull-down Market”. I walked along the track to the end of the market to get a good view of the oncoming train.
Few minutes later, a siren went off to announce the departure of the train. Immediately the vendors pulled down their awnings and readjusted their merchandise. Some of the produce was strategically left unmoved as they casually waited for the train to pass by. It was followed by a hooting sound marking the departure of the train. As the sound grew closer and closer, the tourists were overwhelmed and few of them jumped over the tracks to record their best Instagram moments. The locals were overprotective and constantly asked them to stay clear of the tracks. Seconds later, I could see the train slithering slowly into the narrow lane. The guys from the local coffee shop were ready with the parcel of coffee for the driver. The train stopped for a few seconds as the driver peeped out of the wagon to collect his coffee. Post coffee retrieval, the train picked up momentum and passed me by. The produce remained untouched by the passage of the train. I never imagined that one day I would be standing so close to the train that I could touch it. As it left the place, the locals pulled back the awnings and the market regained its earlier composure. It was back to bustling business as usual.
It is fascinating to see how both of these co exist so beautifully. On my trip back to the hotel, my driver asked me why as an Indian I was so interested in this train market. I smiled and remarked that we don’t have trains running right through the middle of a fully functional market in India or elsewhere. This one is special !
Copyright ©2017, Lakshmi Nair . This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.