Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thai Railway Market

Every day in the Thai province of Samut Songkhram, about 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Bangkok, a unique market is held whose vendors need feet as quick as their minds. Why? Because much of the market is located directly on a set of operational railway tracks. Eight times daily, a train runs through without care for stopping, sending vendors and visitors to action stations before business as usual resumes.

The following brief video (41 seconds long) captures the hustle and, what we would here in the US be regarded as, "the insanity" that is the Mae Klong market.

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Thailand has its fair share of interesting fresh markets offering a slice of daily Thai life – be it night bazaars serving insect delicacies, or floating markets bobbing on canal boat platforms. Still, the market at Samut Songkhram, known locally as Mae Klong, is king when it comes to unbridled excitement.

For visitors, there's more to the experience than braving the railway tracks and dodging the occasional train. Another attraction is the sight of all the goods on display along the 100-meter length of track near Mae Klong Station. From fresh fruit and vegetables to newly caught seafood, it's all shielded from the blazing sun by canopies of the stallholders' own making. This next video (about 4 minutes long) captures all of that, along of course with the train as it passes by along with the merchants' reactions.

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The beginning of part 2 of the video featured below, shows the market from the front of the train. The video does a good job documenting the station, its distance from the market, as well as put some of hazards in perspective. For example, the gap between the train the canopies shot from within the train is truly remarkable.

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And, while the market sellers may expend energy regularly packing up shop, and coping with an ever-present occupational hazard, it's evidently worth it. Just think of the passing trade they get, as well as the ease of access for people expressly taking a trip there.  ▣

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