A smell of fried meat, steamed veggies, fresh fish, exotic herbs and muggy air welcomed us to Samut Songkhram, which is about 70km southwest from Bangkok. We slipped through the awnings into the market where wrinkly vendors shooed flies away. They whispered, giggled, chatted away and money and plastic bags changed owners as we walked by. Although it was crowded you didn’t feel like there were so many people around you.
As it is my favourite activity in foreign countries to visit their markets to get to know the food and the habits of the people, we strolled around the booth. Chatting about the exotic goods we made our way to a market stall where we bought the famous Thai sticky rice with different toppings like crispy pork, coconut pudding and mango.
While we tried the super sweet dessert all the vendors started to move away their goods and their canopy, which protected the goods from the sun. Everyone kept searching for a slot between the baskets and desks of the vendors with their heads turned to a turn a little further down the tracks. It seemed as there was an invisible border and nobody crosses this line. Some of the Japanese tourists were brave enough to get a good shot in the middle of the rails, but as soon as the yellow blue engine showed up they rushed back to their safe spots.
The Maeklong Railway rolled heavy and squeaking past the Talad Rom Hoop, which means “The Umbrella pull-down market”. There are only a few centimetres between the train and the shop fronts and its alluring to watch the train pass by. It sounds weird but all the goods on the ground were untouched. The engine clattered along the baskets without touching any of the fruits, veggies, meat or fish. It was spectacular. The train has its terminus at Samut Songkhram. From there it goes to Samut Sakhon, where you can go by ferry over the Tha Chin River to Bangkok. Maeklong Railway was launched in 1905 and is one of the slowest in Thailand with an average speed of 30km/h.
The market came after the Maeklong Railway because the vendors weren’t charged for the booth on the tracks, so they were able to offer their goods cheaper than on the legal markets. The railway company had no chance to get rid of them and the local people frequented the market daily. Soon after it was established the tourists discovered the Talad Rom Hoop, where the train passes by 8 times a day.