Naruedom (Gong) Yaempongsa gives Oamaru residents a taste of Thailand at his Thames Highway restaurant Bangkok Recipe. And in Thailand, people are getting a taste of New Zealand through his part-time work as a photographer. Oamaru Mail reporter Gus Patterson asks him about his journey to Oamaru.
Q Where you are originally from?
I am from Thailand. I came to New Zealand in 2011 to study English language and also a diploma in tourism management at the Southern Institute of Technology in Queenstown.
Q How did you find the move to New Zealand?
I feel like I have moved to a place that is completely different, especially the scenery and weather. It is much colder than Thailand in winter, but I really enjoy snow sports here.
Q When did you move to Oamaru, and why?
I moved to Oamaru in 2016 after I discovered it was much more affordable to live. After five years living in Queenstown and travelling around New Zealand, I found that Oamaru was a very unique and interesting town with beautiful architecture, amazing landscapes, wildlife and lovely people. I had seen an opportunity to grow in this town, so I made a decision to move. I live with my partner, two little lovebirds (parrots) and a Jack Russell – I love it here, indeed.
Q How did you get into photography?
I enjoy hiking and I wanted to show my family the beautiful scenery of New Zealand, so I bought my first camera in 2012 and learned to use it. I have taken a lot of photos since then. Then I found that I could sell photos online (as stock photography), so I took it even more seriously and started earning money from it. It is like a dream job, to travel and earn some money at the same time.
Q What are your favourite things to photograph? How would you describe your style?
My favourite things to photograph are lakes and mountains covered in snow. We do not have those in my country, so I feel excited every time I see them. My style is mainly landscape and travel photography. I want my viewer to see and experience the same thing I experience. I love using some techniques to combine multiple photos into one photo, and using techniques such as high dynamic range photos and panoramic photos.
Q When did you take over Bangkok Recipe in Oamaru?
My partner and I started at Bangkok Recipe in August 2018. Apart from photography, I have always had a passion for eating and travelling so I spent a lot of time travelling around New Zealand and trying different foods from all the regions. However, Thai food is still my favourite.
Q Have you made any adjustments to your cooking for New Zealanders?
No. Like photography, I want my customer to experience the same thing I have back home. The presentation may look different, but the flavour must be authentic. Combined with the great ingredients New Zealand offers, this puts our Thai food to another level!
- To see some of Mr Yaempongsa’s photography, visit his exhibition at Crafted in Harbour St. It runs until the end of January. To see his photos online, visit www.lostation.com.