Maha Wong Village is located approximately 3 kilometers northwest of Bangkok's city centre. Once the bustling center for immigrants from southern China, it is now a district strictly known for its simple, traditional Thai living in the big metropolis.
Maha Wong, which means "The Great Wong (Clan)" receives its name from one of the founding families of the village. During the late 18th century, the Kingdom of Siam received an influx of indentured servants from southern China, primarily Yunnan. Many of these people, mostly men, settled in the swampy, impoverished region that had very little to offer the growing metropolis that would become Bangkok. Chinese settlers, who were regularly commissioned by the Kingdom to work as fisherman, soldiers of Siam, and assistants in agriculture, used their knowledge and skills from the homeland in their new surroundings.
Laborers, merchants, and traders resided in the new village. Locals intermarried with Yunnanese and eventually established networks of middle-class families that sent their children to centers of learning, which include the famous Wat Po. The Wong family, who later changed their surname in 1912 to Wongsuwatprecha when the Thai government required all nationals to have both a first and last name, was one of the more affluent clans. Making their fortune primarily by selling textiles, the family had strong control over the trade of fabrics, carpets, and precious jewels and amulets.
In addition to being a hub for locals to purchase some of their favorite items (with some of the most popular faces and brands in Southeast Asia), there is a diverse array of food to be found in Maha Wong. Some of the delicious delights present include guaytiaw kari, which is a noodle soup blending southern Chinese flavors and noodles with Thai ingredients. The curry noodle soup, which sells anywhere from 35-45 baht (foreigners are usually charged a bit more), is a mix of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors - typical of modern Thai dishes.
One of the coconuts we tried was very sweet, filled with electrolyte-rich water that quenched our thirst and brought back the sparkle in our eyes. Another coconut seemed to have more shell and meat than water, while the third was simply OK. All in all, our coconut peddler friend taught us that the softer the shell the sweeter the water. Madame, you are right and we salute you.