Thailand is an amazing place with landscapes varying abruptly from one part of the island to the other. Truly, the areas in the country can be so different that the two things that keep it all together are most likely the language and Thai food. During a short trip to Bangkok last year, I was looking for a place to explore that would offer me a fresh perspective. I knew if I wanted to really know Thailand, I had to get out of Bangkok. As a journalist, talking to taxi drivers comes naturally to me. The driver who took me around Bangkok was born and raised in the capital. But, having driven taxi for over a decade, he knew the place that I wanted to see.
Maeklong Station was the place. Operational since 1904 and located about an hour south west of Bangkok, the place is famous for its Pulldown Umbrella Market. It’s basically a local [primarily fish] market that sits on the train tracks and folds away from the tracks when the train comes, which happens four times a day at time of writing. I read on a few websites that the trains don’t have a fixed schedule, they actually do. As soon as the train rolls away, the vendors move their desk-on-wheels back on the tracks. It’s a fun thing to experience as the train passes really really close to you. The station has no signal but you won’t miss the alarm before the train approaches!
The train experience aside, the market is one of the largest fresh seafood market in Thailand. If you have a way to cook fish at where you’re staying, go buy some. As I was getting hungry I tried a plate of freshly cooked tofu fried-rice. It cost me around $3 [pictured] and it was the best fried-rice I ever had. The restaurant [featured photo] is located right at the main station and offers a wide variety of delicious-looking colorful fruit-based beverages, grilled seafood and vegetables, noodles and rice. Most ‘tourists’ that I came across were from China. If you’re looking to buy souvenirs, check out the local stores as you are likely going to find what you like here at a fraction of the cost compared to Bangkok.
Even though Bangkok has its fair share of scammers lurking almost everywhere, you are very unlikely to get scammed here as locals usually do business with locals. The people are nice and friendly. However, as I had the chance to speak to some vendors, I had the impression that they aren’t particularly fond of foreigners, specially other Asians, coming over and leaving without buying anything. Locals here believe tourism hasn’t really added much value to their livelihood.
There’s a large open parking area about 100 yards from the station. Streetfood wise, their grilled chicken on a stick and anything made from coconut are to die for!