longing for oodles of noodles – nnam’s pad thai

by Jann-Marie Ross

Sixteen year old High School student Nnam is a pretty brave young lady.  But she is honest about her first impression of a Maori Kapa Haka.  ‘What on earth is that!!!” she remembers thinking.  She isn’t alone, all that shouting, thumping and pulling faces can be a little overwhelming for a newbie to the country.  Now that she understands what it is about, she has even given it a go herself.

Before she came to New Zealand, her impression was of a beautiful place, with more sheep than people.  She wanted to see Auckland and Christchurch, and greatly admired our Prime Minister.

Shortly after arriving, Covid 19 hit, she saw Jacinda Ardern lead the country through crisis first hand.  Nnam was worried for herself and her family in Thailand, but decided to remain in New Zealand and finish her nine months of study at Kelston Girls High.  She liked her Kiwi homestay family, and rose to the challenge of staying to improve her English.  Nnam did not want to waste her opportunity to experience a different culture.

As I am writing this article, we have entered our second wave of Covid 19 and another lockdown.  Nnam is still happy with the leadership of Prime Minister Adern, but is very sad for the people who have lost their jobs to the process of saving lives.

She knows exactly what she wants to do when she returns home to Thailand in November 2020.  She will eat a steaming bowl of Thai noodles.  Sure she can go into Auckland city and get some pretty good Thai food, but the ingredients differ from those in Thailand.

Back home, her grandparents did most of the cooking for her large family, including her parents, brother and sister and aunt.  She loved spending time with her family on weekends, especially swimming and rollerblading.  In New Zealand she has taken her blading skills to another level  and learned to ice skate.

Her grandad taught her to make Pad Thai, although it differs from the recipe she has shared with us.    Nnam has given us a recipe using Pad Thai stir fry sauce made by Passage to Asia[1] , easily sourced from most supermarkets.  She says it is a pretty good version, as she hasn’t as yet found the ingredients to make the sauce from scratch.  Pad Thai is popular right across Thailand as an everyday food.  Some regions have their own special versions, but the recipe she has shared is common to most parts of the country.  Another favourite noodle dish she is keen to dive into when she returns home is Pad Kapow. 

The New Zealand homes are quite different for her.  Most are designed as a single story, whereas in Thailand the homes are built with an area that is smaller, but four or five stories high.  In New Zealand, she usually spends her weekends at the beach, doing art, puzzles, or just hanging out with her host family.

The teachers and students at Kelston Girls have been very welcoming, and she now has several Kiwi friends.  As it is a girls’ school she hasn’t had the opportunity to meet Kiwi boys at all.

Nnam studied 15 subjects back home, with five different English classes encompassing writing, reading, listening, talking and grammar.  In addition to this, she took math, two science classes, social studies, history, PE, computer science, cooking, art and music. 

At Kelston Girls she only studies six classes, but is really enjoying new options available, taking dance, drama and hospitality, in addition to English courses and history.  As she loves to perform, she has enjoyed learning hip hop at school.  Her school dance classes in Thailand were purely cultural performances.

Nnam has suffered some home sickness.  She spent a couple of days recently feeling so sad she didn’t want to leave her room.  Once she came out and mixed with others, however, she felt much better.  Her advice to new International students is to meet and make as many friends as you can. The more you mix, the better you feel.  Great advice for everyone, generally.  Covid social distance rules permitting, of course. 

The language barrier has also been trying.  It can be hard to express yourself and get your personality across in English, but it gets easier as time goes on. 

Fortunately, most of her experiences have been great.  Nnam could not choose a stand out experience, but wanted to just say pretty much everything was wonderful.


Pad Thai recipe (for two people)

Flat rice noodles 200g 

Passage to Asia Pad Thai sauce 200g (ignore that the packet says for four people)*

1tsp of sugar

2 eggs 

1 carrot

2 sliced lemons

1 spring onion 

1 chicken breast

1 onion 

*We are not sponsored by Passage to Asia.  Please check packet for any allergens in the sauce.
  1. Put flat rice noodles in a pot. Add water and bring to boil. 
  2. Peel onion and carrot. Slice spring onion, onion, and carrot. 
  3. Chop the chicken into small pieces. 
  4. When noodles become soft, drain the water.
  5. Add the oil to pan and heat. Add onion and fry till cooked.
  6. Add carrot and spring onion.
  7. Add chicken in the pan and fry until cooked.
  8. When the chicken is cooked, add 2 eggs and scramble. Add half of pad Thai sauce, then add sugar and squeeze in lemon juice. 
  9. Add flat rice noodle and mix. Then add remaining pad Thai sauce. 
  10. Enjoy!

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