So, another train post, but this one will hopefully be of interest to more people than normal!
The Market at Maeklong is famous on YouTube (well it is relative to the other markets on YouTube…) as the market through which a train runs several times a day, causing all the stall holders to quickly pull their stalls, goods and the awnings that cover them out of the way of the passing train before quickly returning to normal as soon as the train has safely(!?) passed.
A half day trip (or full day depending on how you get there) from Bangkok, this market had been on my to do list for a while before I finally got round to seeing it on Sunday. I will admit my motivation was at first driven by the train connection, but having seen it in the flesh I am now convinced that this is something that anyone would enjoy if they were looking for something to do in Bangkok.
The Market is about 60km west of Bangkok, you can get there relatively straight forwardly by minivan for 70Baht from the BTS Skytrain stop in Bangkok. It will take about 60 odd minutes once the minivan finally decides to leave the bus station, which might take a while longer depending on the whim of the driver. Alternatively, you can get there via a combination of two extremely slow trains (one takes about an hour 40 minutes to cover 33km!) and a short ferry ride across the river that separates the two rail-lines. This will only cost you 23 Baht but definitely turns the trip into a full day! Alternatively some hostels and travel agents offer tours, some of which will include a short ride on the train through the market itself without having to then travel on it all the way back to or from Bangkok which should save you lots of time!
The market itself doesn’t just cover the rail line, it is a much larger market, selling predominantly fresh fish and sea food but also fruit and veg and the normal random collection of things you can find in any market in Thailand. It is really bizarre to walk down the part that covers the rail line, where the combination of the goods on sale and other shoppers can make it difficult even for a person to find space to squeeze through to then imagine that before long an entire train will be passing through. It is definitely a tight squeeze. The train will pass within inches of the mix of shoppers, tourists and stall holders stood to either side of it. Some stall holders have even worked out where they can leave their goods on the track so the train can pass over them without touching them. On the train itself, any attempt to lean out of the window even slightly to film what is going on comes with the very real risk of being smacked in the face by one of the canopies, as I found out only too well. (you can see it in the video at the end of this post)
It is however without doubt an experience best described through film and pictures, so I present to you the video below. A composite of the 13:45 arrival into Maeklong, (the terminus of the line) and the 1430 departure back, on which I was on board. You will just have to take my word for it that in real life the experience is even cooler.
Oh and if you are in a rush, skip to 2 minutes 30 seconds.