Thursday, November 19, 2009

Short documentary looks at threat to Thailand's 'train market'

With the Science Film Festival going on in Bangkok right now -- yes, yet another film festival -- one of the entries that caught my eye is A Mirror of a Living Train Market (กระจกสะท้อนวิถีชีวิตชาวตลาดรถไฟ), a five-minute documentary produced by the MCOT TV station Modernine.

It's about the famous (or infamous) "train market" on the Mae Klong Railway.

Here is the synopsis:

This story tells about Payao’s life who works as a vendor at the train market in western city of Samut Songkhram where the provincial authorities plan to rebuild the permanent market for buyers’ safety and rail traffic control. She does not want to change this distinguished market. What Payao, the provincial authorities and the train official eye this living train market--- all opinions--- are like aspects of a mirror reflecting the movement and cycles of the market.

Among railfans and tourists, the Mae Klong train market is one of Thailand's most unique sites.

There are lots of videos about it on YouTube. I've posted a short clip above, just to offer a glimpse of the phenomenon of a market that is conducted on the very railbed of this historic railway, with vendors calmly pulling back their awnings and merchandise to let the train through. Once the train is passed, the awnings fold back out and the market returns to doing a bustling business.

The Mae Klong line was inaugurated in 1904. It runs from Wong Wian Yai in Thonburi to Mahachai. Passengers wishing to continue to Mae Klong must take a ferry across a river. Making this connection can be pretty tough or impossible, as detailed in this trip report on, which also has extensive information about the line. Little has changed about it over the years, except for perhaps the move from steam to diesel locomotives.

Not surprisingly, this quaint railway and the market have been under threat for quite sometime, with the authorities wanting the market to move as they make plans to refurbish the dilapidated train line.

A Mirror of a Living Train Market is showing several times during the festival, which I think is geared for schoolkids, but maybe the general public is welcome. I am not sure it has subtitles. The schedule is all in Thai, but I've managed to find a suitable screening time at 4pm on Sunday at TK Park in CentralWorld.

1 comment:

  1. damn man!

    Have you also seen Indian's street? how some man tried to cross the street?

    Also Japanese's train video:P

    it's all mad man


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