Friday, August 4, 2023

Watch out for the train at this Thai market

Visitors to Bangkok, Thailand are often directed to two famous markets, the colorful and bountiful Flower Market and the intriguing local Floating Market. If you wish to see another market, one that is truly unique, consider visiting the Train Market.

This is where we boarded the train.

One of Thailand’s amazing attractions, this market is located near/on the Mae Klong Railway Station in Samut Songkhram Province, about 50 miles southwest of Bangkok.

We left Bangkok with our guide and driver about 7:30 a.m. and drove out of the city for almost an hour to a spot in the road (no depot there) where the train stops to take on passengers who are going to the market (early morning is the best time to go). 

As the train approached the end of the line, we were amazed by the proximity of vendors’ stalls and shoppers wandering around just outside the window—so close we could have reached out and touched them.
On the train approaching the station.

This big, vibrant outdoor market is sometimes called Siang Tai (life-risking) because many stalls actually occupy part of the train line, meaning trains run directly through the market several times a day.

Vendors open and close their awnings whenever
the train comes or goes.
Here’s what we witnessed: Vendors at the market put out parasols or awnings as protection from the sun. These shelters extend over the tracks where visitors walk and shop. When a signal rings indicating the arrival of a train, chaos happens. Vendors rush to close their coverings and clear all goods that might be in the path of the oncoming train.

People walk along the tracks
while shopping.
This happens six times a day, so the vendors are prepared and go through the procedure with lightning speed. Once the train passes, everything is reopened, goods are put back in place next to the railroad, and shopping continues. It’s a fascinating scene to witness and to participate in, if you dare.

The market began in 1905 and is open seven days a week from 6:20 to 5:40, which coincides with the first arrival and last departure of the train. It’s a traditional Thai market selling fresh vegetables, food, fruit, and all kinds of staple goods. It’s an important market for locals whose livelihood is fishing, to sell fish what they catch.

Large selection of veggies

While the train is stopped, many people climb on the caboose and take pictures. When it’s time for the train to leave, people crowd around to watch it depart, often scampering off the tracks in the nick of time. We spent about two hours wandering through the stalls, checking out the variety of items offered for sale. It was a fun way to spend the morning.

Train departing catches people's attention.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier




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