“Maeklong Railway Market”

Mae Klong, Thailand. (12 photos)

This is Part 2 of my posts about Thailand, and Part 5 of my posts about my near month-long visit to Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore in November 2019.

About 90 minutes by road to the southwest of Bangkok – and that seriously depends on Bangkok’s notorious traffic – one finds the Maeklong Railway Market. It’s a traditional Thai market active since about 1905 predominantly selling fresh vegetables, meats, seafood, sweets, fruits, flowers and clothing in the province of Samut Songkhram. A local market really, but its novelty for the tourist who makes their way out there is that the market sits on the local railway tracks.

“Did you hear that?”

It’s not particularly ergonomically friendly. The walking surface is uneven, the tracks are a tripping hazard, and passing other people and vendors with carts on the tracks can be difficult.

But then a train whistle is heard and with military precision and timing the vendors spring into action.

“Action stations”

Awnings and umbrellas are closed and retracted. Locally the market is known as the Talat Rom Hoop which translates into โ€œUmbrella Close Market.โ€ Carts and baskets of goods are moved back from the tracks, but only just enough – the vendors know how far they need to go. Produce on trays are left in position if they are low enough.

“Here it comes”

And the local train appears.

“Camera time”

Local workers take a break because they know no business will occur as the train passes. Tourists go into a photography frenzy.

“Coming through”

Some tourists also ride the local train for this experience.

With only millimetres to spare sometimes, the train travels over the produce that has been left on sheets on the ground, and skims past those standing close to the tracks. I don’t recommend reaching out to touch the train as it passes.

“And then it’s gone”

The train passes by and as quickly as the market was closed for the train, so the market springs back to life. Everything is returned to where it was before the train came through.

“Train, what train?”

Within seconds of the train passing, the markets are back to full activity.

Maeklong Railway Station is an end station, so about 30 minutes after the train came through, it came back.

“Here we go again”

Everyone knows what to do. It’s an activity that happens up to 8 times a day.

“Slow but powerful locomotive”

The train isn’t going fast when it comes through the market but it’s fast enough. People have been injured and killed in the past for being disrespectful of safety and common-sense, and not getting out of the way of the oncoming train in time.

“Rear window”

“Back to business”

Another one of those experiences of travel I won’t forget.

…..

This is Part 2 of my posts about Thailand, and Part 5 of my posts about my near month-long visit to Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore in November 2019.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Maeklong Railway Market

Image

78 thoughts on “Maeklong Railway Market

  1. I saw this on a travel documentary a few months back, and there seemed to be as many tourists here as ordinary people. It was good to see your photos now. I think I seriously underestimated the count of tourists when I watched that video!

  2. Thanks for letting me take a peek at this amazing experience, Lignum. I made sure to move back a bit when the train came by. Fortunately there was no one behind me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your comment about 90 minutes, but depending on traffic, reminds me a lot of the Chicago area. My dad once asked how far it was to Chicago from where we live and I had to reply that I didn’t know; only the time it took to get there was important (and it can vary wildly!) Because my husband and a cycling friend have ridden home from the city, I now know that it’s about 36 miles. ๐Ÿ™‚

    janet

    • I’m glad the train didn’t hit you! ๐Ÿ™‚

      There’s one drive for work I do semi-regularly. It takes 70-80 minutes in peak hour traffic. I did the same drive just after Christmas one year – it only took me 25 minutes.

  3. Yikes, that looks a bit hairy. I’d be worried that I hadn’t got any room to get out of the way, there’s not a lot of space around that train. You do find some extremely interesting places LD. xx

    • All part of the experience of travel, particularly in SE Asia, Jude. I was quite amazed when I read about it, so it was definitely something I wanted to see. Fortunately the larger stalls can accomodate several people well clear of the tracks.

    • Crazy, isn’t it? I made sure I was standing at the front to be next to the train as it passed. Others had to move inside stalls to accomodate the crowd that develops, but there’s no fun in that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did think about riding the train but due to time constraints (had to go to a floating market afterwards) I passed that up.

    • I’d be suspicious the latter is more applicable. Big crowds of people but mostly buying nothing I suspect, except snacks/lunch. It really is more of a local produce market than a souvenir market.

  4. Amazing! Inspite of seeing this so many times, captured by so many different photographers, it never ceases to amaze – must be quite an experience, even for an Easterner like me, so used to overcrowding!

  5. Alexandra says:

    wait, how did that train even fit in there lol ?! such great, vivid scenes, bustling with life…. and so well captured, I’m sure it was not easy with so many people around…

    • It was quite exciting to experience this even though it’s a normal day for them. Markets in Asia are a world apart from everywhere else. I love them.

      PS Good to see you back from your break.

      • Alexandra says:

        omg, I just browsed through your blog, will have a lot of catching up to do, you did so much traveling in the past years and taken so many amazing shots… hats off!!

        • I just looked back through my records. Last time we spoke I was posting about Cambodia. I’ve been to 20 overseas countries since then, including next door to you. I may have even flown over your country. I’m scared to think how many photos I took, but it was all fun.

        • Alexandra says:

          that’s an amazing achievement Lignum, and there’s no slowing you down I can see… ๐Ÿ™‚ good for you!! frankly, it’s good you didn’t visit my country, or I would have missed your visit ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t taken a single shot since July 2018 ๐Ÿ™‚ ready to be inspired by your amazing photography… will check back later which Balkan country you visited ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. pepe le moko says:

    It’s been about 30 years since I’ve been in Bangkok and seeing the city scape, I wondered if there would be any of the city that I remembered still there. Then I saw the train market. Then I read your comment ” Another one of those experiences of travel I wonโ€™t forget.” That’s the Asia experience I remember.
    To present the experience- you did it so well.

    • Thank you very much. Life and travel are full of experiences we’ll not easily forget. The photos are just the proof we were there. I have a blurred photo on my phone from getting out of the train’s way. Nothing worth posting, but just as full of memories to me.

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