martedì 30 aprile 2013

In Thailand we found a market under the train : Maeklong

In Thailand, at about seventy kilometers from Bangkok, there is a town that has a very special market: Maeklong.
A large number of tourists, but also many Thai people go there every day to see a quite unusual show .

This market, in fact, is not taken in a public place or in a covered building, but rather on the train tracks.



It is a classic food market that we can find in every city, with farmers leading to sell the products of the land, butchers that sell chicken, beef or mutton, the fishermen offering shellfish, crabs or fish.
Walking through the market, or better along the train tracks, you are truly immersed in scents and colors of a rural market.



The market stalls are along the train tracks just before Maekong train station  and 6 times a day, on arrival and at train's departure, the sellers have to withdraw some of their equipment: the sheets they use for the shadow, the carts they use to expose their wares. Some products, especially vegetables, exposed at ground level may remain in place as long as they are low enough to pass under the train.
Yes, you read right, the train passes over some baskets of vegetables without even damaging them.




As you can well imagine thinking about the tropical climate of Thailand, fresh products such as meat and fish need to be kept cool to preserve them at best, as this is when it becomes necessary to expose them on a layer of ice that helps in conservation.

In this regard, there's a main actor: the ice shop man. Actually, the man and his wife.
In this shop along the train tracks, the lady takes care of the ice blocks, coarsely breaking them with a pickaxe before placing them in an ice crusher operated with a crank; in the meantime, the husband takes the bags of crushed ice on his shoulders and goes to delivery it among the market stalls.




Soon it's THE time: the departure of the train.
It 's fascinating to see the fast-paced action of the sellers who withdraw benches and towels and tourists looking for a good vantage point to capture the convoy passage.
Then the train emits a long warning tone and starts slowly waving tourists, merchants and giving you appointment to next return, after about two hours.



After visiting the market, take some time to walk in town. It will not be unusual to see elephants walking in parking lots and pilgrims who come to the temple to worship the Buddha statues.

How to get to Maeklong?
Us the first time we were there with some friends in Bangkok who drived us there by car. 

As an alternatively you can get there taking public transport; it is a pretty long journey which implies the change of trains and the crossing of a river with a boat, but we can assure you that it's worth it.
From Bangkok, the train leaves from Wong Wian Yai station, along the Thonburi river. It 'a small station, therefore we suggest you to get there with a taxi so that the taxi driver will take you to the correct destination. From there after one hour by train you will arrive at the last stop, Mahachai.
Once in Mahachai you have to take the ferry to cross the river Ban Laem.
From Ban Laem you will take another train. The station is at 10 minute walk from the ferry. This is a small station and this train will get you there in about an hour.
We recommend not to get caught unprepared and start to prepare the camera in time because when the train starts to move closer to Maeklong the show of the market seen from the train definitely deserves a good number of shots.


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