eXtensions - Monday 18 June 2018


Digital and Film Photography Themes Around Mahachai and the Railway (2): The River

By Graham K. Rogers


A small line run by the State Railway of Thailand, completely disconnected from the main rail system, runs near where I live. Originally, the Tachin Railway it ran from Mahachai to Klongsan up to the 1960s, bringing fresh produce to Bangkok when road transport was deficient. The line now begins at Wongwianyai and only carries passengers. A separate line, also originally developed to carry produce, runs from across the river from Mahachai to Maeklong and is famous for its Railway Market.

As well as the railway, to me, Mahachai means two things: food and the river. Inseparable from the origins of the railway, the two are fundamental to the economy of the area and to Thailand itself.

Banlaem pedalos

This trip I used an iPhone X along with a Nikon D850 with 50mm and 85mm lenses, and a Hasselblad 503C with the 85mm Distagon lens. I first deleted almost half of the 300 or so images I took, selecting around 60 for editing, finally using 44 for this 2-part photo essay (15%). Only images from the Nikon are used here.

I found distinct themes that the images supported: the journeys, around Mahachai (railway terminal and food), the river and related ideas. The first part with some 20 images looks at journeys and the railway terminal. This second part looks at the market, the food and the important marine links.

Market and food

The area round the station is a bustling market, with plenty of fresh produce. Much is produced locally, while the sea produce is processed in factories nearby. Both the fishing industry and the factories employ large numbers of people from neighboring Myanmar. The area is often referred to as Little Burma and was one of the locations Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited in June 2016.

Around holiday time and at weekends it is sometimes hard to walk in the streets there are so many people. With the market there are also restaurants and I always stop at the same noodle place as the food makes the journey worthwhile.



Mahachai Mahachai

Mahachai market area

Mahachai noodles
A favourite stop for food before crossing the river

River and Industries

The river and its nearby connection to the sea are fundamental to the whole economy of the area. Without the deep river, there would be no fishing industry and with no fishing industry, the railway would not have been built. Although it no longer carries goods, many from Bangkok take the one hour trip to shop at the market. The river runs through it: physically and symbolically.



Mahachai Mahachai

Mahachai noodles
The Tha Chin River between Mahachai and Banlaem

With the river also comes wild-life and the immediate area is rich with a variety of bird species, local and migratory, that use the nearby salt marshes (salt is another industry here) for nesting.

Although the Banlaem side is far less busy than Mahachai (one reason I prefer this side), there are several small processing factories backing on to the river, although some have moved in the last couple of years from sea food to fruit. As the area changes, so new buildings are constructed while some older ones are left to decay.

Old buildings - Banlaem

Old buildings - Banlaem
Abandoned buildings - Banlaem

The river nears the sea
The river nears the sea

The proximity to the sea means fishing boats and deep-sea fishing means nets, which must be maintained in good repair.

Fishing Net Maintenance Fishing Net Maintenance

Fishing Net Maintenance Fishing Net Maintenance

Fishing Net Maintenance
Repairing the Fishing Nets

Fishing Vessels

Fishing Vessels
Fishing Vessels

Changes in the weather can occur in under an hour at this time of year. With rain on its way it was time to head back to the ferry (passing a local signpost) where my travelling companion was a friendly monk.

Banlaem Banlaem

Fishing Vessels

See also:

  • Digital and Film Photography Themes Around Mahachai and the Railway (1)

  • Digital Photography and Self-Improvement Over Time

  • Photographic Essay - Cartoon Role-Playing Teenagers at Siam Paragon<>/a>

  • The Wednesday File (58): Nikon D850 - A Month with the Beast

  • Moving up to Nikon D850 (3): Explorations

  • Moving up to Nikon D850 (2): Practicalities

  • Moving up to Nikon D850 (1): Rationale

  • A Selection of RAW Photo Apps for the iPhone: The First Rank

  • A Selection of RAW Photo Apps for the iPhone: A Worthy Second Rank

  • Thonburi Steam: DSLR and iPhone RAW

  • Nikon D850

  • Hasselblad Cameras

    Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)

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