I thought that Thailand’s Railway Food Market was the only one of its kind in the world. Turns out I was wrong. A similar railway track exists in Vietnam as well – this one doesn’t pass through a busy market place like its Thai counterpart, but a narrow residential neighborhood. The video footage of the train shows it passing mere inches from the front doors of people living in the capital city of Hanoi.
Hanoi is pretty much iconic for its narrow buildings and streets. And since the main train station is right in the heart of the city, it’s no surprise that the train tracks pass by busy streets. The section of tracks that leads to Long Bien Bridge passes through Old Quarter, which is a densely populated residential area. The houses here are so close to the tracks that people could easily get smacked if they don’t watch their step, or decide to stick their hands out the window at the wrong time. Luckily, the trains go by only twice a day.
According to Adam Armstrong, who recorded the video and posted it to YouTube in February, the train comes so close to houses that people have to bring in their vehicles at the scheduled time. Some residents are so used to the train that they just leave their bikes parked outside, inches away from the speeding train. “The people here know the schedule well,” said Adam. “At just about 4 pm and 7 pm every day, you suddenly notice people start to file into their homes and in the front yard where kids were playing and women were cutting vegetables is suddenly replaced by rushing steel and noise.”
Adam also pointed out that even though residents were familiar with the train’s timings, it isn’t the safest arrangement. “I can only imagine how many close calls and unfortunate accidents there have been over the years, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by the people living here,” he said. He found the people warm and friendly: “We were met by all smiles and invitations to play with babies and share a local meal. In a place where twice a day a speeding train literally barrels through your living room it is amazing to see the people that live here at such peace.”
Hanoi isn’t the only place in the world where trains pass right by people’s front doors. The Maeklong Railway Food Market, in Thailand, is famous for having food stalls built right on the edge of a transited train track.