Talad Rot Fai (The Train Market)
Bangkok’s very unique vintage market and hangout
If there’s one thing Thailand has in excess, it’s places to sell new junk. I’ve never seen so many phone covers in all my life – and this is just for the newest models!! What did they do with all the old models? From accessories, to knick knacks, to souvenirs I couldn’t imagine ANYONE buying, there is market after market, mall after mall, city after city just filled to the rim of this stuff. It’s hard to tell one market from the other, quite frankly. Not all of it’s junk – I mean, there’s some neat things too.. but really, I can’t imagine how even 10% of it gets sold. There is, however, one market which does things a little differently. Ironically located very close to Chatuchak (one of the world’s largest outdoor markets – selling mostly generic things), this funky vintage market has become a popular teen hangout due to it’s wide variety of vintage items, rarely seen in today’s rapidly changing consumerist marketplace.
Immediately upon walking in the front entrance, I had a sense of nostalgia come over me. Some of the old buildings with crumbling, exposed brick fronts reminded me of a farmers market from my old home town. As you walk around from display to display, the assortment of ancient treasures was unparallel-able. There was rows of vintage furniture and household items, with the retro colours, shapes and designs. Other stalls seemed to focus on old vintage toys, with everything from Howdy Doody, to Ninja Turtles, to very antiqued metallic toy trains. There was a view vintage shops which had collections of old records, paintings, books, license plates and other odd knick knacks you might find at a garage sale. Of course, this vintage market wouldn’t have been complete if they hadn’t all been selling their old artifacts out of the back of retro Volkswagon Campers. Amidst the stalls were a few shops featuring newer items, though most of which contained very funky, retro types of products.
The unique layout of the complex is actually because it was an old train yard. The entire grounds, if emptied of all their tents, would still look just like a train yard – with an outdoor train-car yard, and an indoor sheltered area which would have been where passengers platforms were located. Trains are huge, as are the yards in which they’re stored. This train yard market is no exception to that rule.
Originally set up by antique lovers Thanayut ‘Troy’ and Khun Phirot to be a small market area. Rot Fai’s vintage market was intended to compliment their own neighbouring business “Rod’s Antiques”, which dealt in antiques as well as serving up food and drinks. After a few successful months, the popularity had grown and people started arriving in waves! It became an overnight success! Now having been in operation a couple years, it’s started attracting regulars. The vintage items in a modern market that was converted from an old train yard might be ironic enough for hipsters to be cool with. According to CNN Travel, “The Rot Fai Market has been given the nick name “Talad Dek Naew,” a term for Thai youth who love to dress like hipsters and wear retro clothes”.
I’d like to send a special thank you to Stephanie from Real Footprints for bringing Marianne and I out to this circus!
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Now apparently, there’s even old bogey train cars on the property, but I wasn’t able to find them. From what I’ve researched, they’re open to the public to go in and have a drink, and just watch the chaos outside. It was certainly going to be a highlight of the evening, but the grounds are so big and the night was wearing on, so we decided to save it for anther trip up there. This should just aid in gauging the scale of how big this place is… we couldn’t even find the train cars!!
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Have you ever been to a ‘train graveyard’ before? Have you been to a market in a place that wasn’t originally intended to be a market? What’s the biggest garage sale you’ve ever seen? Please feel free to share your stories in the comment section below!