By Thai Newsroom Reporters
AT ONE OF RATCHABURI’S fresh food markets, Ratchaneewan Hongthong tends to her 30 years-plus business of making a variety of noodles with pork and wrapping them up in packs for sale at an incredible 10 baht each.
Better known as Jay Ngaw, the noodle vendor says she has always intended to cater to those who may find it difficult to make ends meet day in, day out, in the face of the sustained economic slumps and pandemic situation.
Assisted by her daughter and 14 employees, Jay Ngaw’s noodle shop at a corner of Sri Muang fresh food market in downtown Ratchaburi provides packs of parboiled noodles topped with red pork, bok choy, chilis and seasoning ingredients. Each and every pack which comprises a thin plastic sheet on the inside and a whitish paper on the outside wrapping around the ready-to-eat food sells for an incredibly low price of 10 baht. That compares to many other noodle shops in town where the average price is three or four times as much.
Until the last few years had the 65-year-old noodle vendor, virtually prevailed by altruistic concerns for the welfare of the poor who may largely depend on hand-to-mouth occupations and the jobless sold her ready-to-eat food for an even more incredible five baht a pack! Due to the increased prices of raw materials ranging from pork to vegetable oil and cooking gas, Jay Ngaw had reluctantly given up on her daily business, closing down her noodle shop in the usually crowded market, and had lived a quiet, mediocre life at home until the Covid hit the country.
The pandemic crisis prompted her to resume her decades-long trade with noodles and pork. Only this time was it not for a single baht of profit to make out of it.
Jay Ngaw, her daughter and 14-strong culinary crew have made packs of noodles with pork for distribution free of charge to doctors, nurses and other medical personnel taking care of Covid patients and other people throughout the western province.
Given the improvement in the pandemic situation earlier this year, Jay Ngaw made up her mind one morning after a sleepless night to double the price of her noodles from five baht to 10 baht a pack and anticipated sort of a slowdown in her business. On the contrary, the volume of her noodle sales has fairly increased to no less than 2,500 packs for a day of business which opens at five a.m. and closes at noon.
The noodle vendor does not only feel physically exhausted by her trade but thrilled by the increased volume of sales from which the most part of profit covers the daily wages for her culinary crew. Born in an impoverished family on the outskirts of town, Jay Ngaw simply needs no explanation to understand the poverty which does not only strike most of her customers but her own employees.
According to a regular customer, the rising volume of Jay Ngaw’s noodle sales has had nothing to do with the maintained mediocre qualities of her noodles, let alone the increased price, but is remarkably owing to the reputation gone viral on social media as well as circled by word of mouth around town that she has willingly done good deeds for the poor and those who have taken care of the people during the pandemic crisis.
Ms. Ratchaneewan Hongthong, or Jay Ngaw, at her shop downtown Ratchaburi where she sells noodles with pork at remarkably low price of 10 baht a pack. Photos: Amarin TV