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People often brag about living or working close to the subway or train station they use for their daily commute. However by that they usually mean a block or two away, not literally on the railway tracks like these folks in Vietnam and Thailand.
Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is well known for its narrow streets and dense population. It is therefore not surprising to see that zoning laws are a little lax, at least by western standards. For how else can you explain this neighborhood that is situated right next to the railway tracks leading to the city's main train station.
The homes are so close to the tracks that citizens have to ensure that they along with their belongings, are secure safely inside, when the train passes by. Fortunately, it happens only twice a day - at 4 pm and 6 pm. What's even more fortuitous is that the trains in Hanoi are always on time, so the residents know exactly when to perform their daily disappearing ritual.
And if that doesn't impress you how about this market in Thailand? Located about an hour southwest of Bangkok in Maeklong, the capital of the Samut Songhram Province, it magically comes to life every day on the edge or even on the tracks of a railway line, that is very much in use.
Each morning, vendors get ready for customers by setting up stalls that range from free standing ones covered with tarpaulins to just sheets that are sometimes draped right over the railway tracks. They then carefully display their wares that include local fruits like mangosteens and rambutans, fresh cut flowers, Thai spices, choice cuts of meat, fresh seafood and poultry. Also on sale are clothes, toys and even pirated DVD's - All in all, a normal flea market.
What is not so normal is what happens when it's time for one the seven trains that zip through the market. A few minutes prior to that, vendors calmly pick up all their wares and then patiently wait by the sidelines for the train to pass. Then, they begin the painstaking set-up process, all over again. The amazing part is that there is no warning that the trains are arriving. The vendors just seem to be in tune with their exact schedules.
As for why the market is located in such a strange place? Turns out it has been there for decades, long before the railway line was planned. And while the vendors would have been forced to relocate in any other country, no such laws exist in Thailand. Also, given that it's unusual location has transformed the once sleepy market into a major tourist draw, nobody is complaining or relocating, anytime soon!
Resources: odditycentral.com, hotelclub.com