Widely distributed videos that show a train apparently running through the middle of a busy Bangkok market have generated a lot of online discussion and debate.
The videos show that the market is actually located right on the train line. Apparently, market vendors remove their wares and stalls to make way for each passing train and then rapidly re-establish themselves after it has passed. The area is so cramped and packed with goods and equipment that the train carriages actually pass over the top of produce left on the outside of the tracks. Those of us who live in increasingly health and safety conscious westernized nations may find such a set up quite incredible.
The videos are genuine. Many photographs and commentaries online confirm that such markets do exist. The market shown in the video is one located at Maeklong (Maekrong) a town near Bangkok. The market and its passing trains have become a tourist attraction in their own right
A news photo of the market from 2001 had the following caption:
Thai vegetable market vendors pull back temporary shades and their produce off a railway track to allow a cross-country train to pass through the middle of the town of Maekrong, 60 kilometers west of Bangkok, April 5, 2001. The bustling market, in the middle of the town, has to scramble from the tracks eight times a day as trains pass, a scene repeated in other rural centers and some city slums across Thailand every day.
More details and photographs of the market were included in a 2006 entry on the Thailand Travel Blogs website. The blog writer, Richard Barrow, noted:
The journey was over very quickly and we soon entered a built up area. The outskirts of Maeklong. I knew that during the last 100 metres or so the train would pass through a market. Literally. I know it sounds strange but this was my planned highlight of the trip. I wanted to get pictures of the market stallholders pulling back their produce as we passed through the market. It had always intrigued me and I wanted to come and see for myself. For this event, I made sure I was at the front of the train. The door to the driver’s cabin was open and I asked him if it was OK if I took some pictures. He said “no problem”. As we approached a corner he sounded his whistle a number of times. Then, as we rounded the corner we were presented with the image in the above pictures. I thought I would see people rushing to grab their vegetables before it was run over by the train. But, they knew the train was coming and everything had been cleared!
And an article about the markets published on the Rex Features website notes that, in spite of regular interruptions by passing trains, the market works very well and only two people have died during the last twenty years.