Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vajiravudh College, Rama 5 road, Bangkok

Spotted this unknown palace like building on Rama 5 road, Bangkok. I was thinking it to be a palace, but facebook friend Kudpi Raj pointed that it is an academic institution, Vajiravudh college, built by King Rama 6.
 After our "Half day city tour of Bangkok" which lasted barely 2 hours (details soon) we were dropped off at  "Chin Gift Shop, 234 Rama 5  Road, Suanjitlada, Bangkok 10300" for shopping. Just opposite this gift shop, on the other side of the canal was this beautiful building complex. I walked into the complex and took some pictures. But as it started raining, I had to wind up and return.I could have ventured inside, but I didn't know if it is open to public. Also if I'd done so I would have risked separating from my group. So went back to join the team as rain gained momentum, but not before I could take some good exterior pics
Our tour guide (of Destinations of the world) never felt it necessary to tell us about this place. Instead of wasting time forcefully in the gift shop, tourists could have taken a walk in this campus. But not sure if that is permitted as it is a college and not tourist destination.
The complex had several buildings, above 2 are the bigger ones.

Below: View of a canal nearby
Also see: Golden Buddha templeGolden Mount

Monday, August 27, 2012

Golden Buddha temple, Bangkok

Golden Buddha was the first temple we visited in Bangkok. Called as Wat Traimit  it local languages, it consists of a Golden Buddha statue, which is reportedly made of solid gold weighing upto 5.5 tons (valued at 1700 crores at current price of 3000 Rs per gram) Statue is about 3 meters in height.
Temple complex is relatively small in area- a nice white building with generous gold colour decorations. The temple design is slightly different from other temples in Bangkok

Not just the statue is majestic, the doors and ceilings are also catchy.

Above: Outside view of Golden Buddha temple
Left: Closer view of the temple

The campus has another buddha statue in a separate building

We went there as part of package tour and we were given only 20 minutes to explore this place. Could have spent some more time as there weren't much items on the itinerary. More about that later.

Vehicles are allowed inside the campus and parking space is limited. May be this is the reason for short time given to us. In the interest of temple, it will be better not to allow vehicles inside and make some space for them nearby. But this temple being in middle of town, space is premium.

Below: another buddha in same Golden Buddha temple complex.

There's no ticket to enter this place. There's also a museum in the temple complex, which we didn't explore as our guide never bothered to explain about it and give enough time.
Related: Wat Arun * Reclining Buddha temple * Tiger temple * Golden Mount

Saturday, August 25, 2012

HSBC credit card issues and business practices

Update: Going by some of the comments, it appears HSBC Bank is on a spree to get rid of customers it can't milk well.

Feb 2013 update: Even citibank is following suit- it doesn't want low value customers. By raising minimum balance to 1 lakh, citi is asking low value clients to close their accounts.

Original post. Looks like HSBC is trying some cheap tricks with me. Not sure if it is only me or others are also facing similar situation, hence sharing the detail here. It is a long post and you may skip this post completely if topics like banking practices, credit cards etc don't interest you.

I've been a HSBC Bank customer since about 4-5 years now. I had subscribed for their gold credit card when they had a life time free offer 5 years ago. Despite being promised as life time free card, I was charged Rs 3000+ tax in annual membership fee (for the primary card and an add on card which was issued unsolicited) I had to fight back and threaten cancellation to get this reversed. [Details] Annual fees were charged few more times and I had to repeat the exercise to get it waived. Despite the hassles the only thing I liked about HSBC is the billing cycle. I could swipe on 20th of Month 1, bill would come on 20th of Month 2 and I could pay by first week of Month 3. This helped me save 2 months of SB interest on the amount. I'd been using it once a while and made all my payments on time, without paying any interest.

After Satyam scandal in 2009, bank choose to cut my credit limit drastically. Subsequently I joined other companies and my income levels have improved, but bank never made any attempt at KYC to understand my current profile and update my limit accordingly. I didn't mind because even the reduced limit was way above by normal monthly spend and I never had a need for a credit card with bigger limit. For once in a year kind big ticket purchases I had my other cards to charge. 

Since I wasn't paying any annual charge and never spent too much money on the card or paid interest, looks like HSBC classified me as "Non profitable" customer. I received an email stating that my card will be terminated and I was given an option to upgrade to one of their card schemes with heavy annual fees. I didn't mind doing away with my HSBC card, hence ignored their email. Below is the extract of the email I received from HSBC on June 26th 2012
Dear Cardholder,
We at HSBC do periodic reviews of the products held by our customers. Pursuant to a recent review, we are revising our Credit Card propositions and therefore shall be unable to continue servicing your above mentioned Credit Card account.
We hereby advise you that the credit limit on your Credit Card XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX will be cancelled after 30 days from the date of this email.
We have noticed that there is a credit balance of Rupees 0.28 in your Credit Card account as on 23-Jun-2012. We request you to please contact HSBC customer service centre, within 30 days from the date of this email, for refund of this credit balance and post scrutiny we shall arrange to refund the same. We hereby confirm that there are no outstanding dues payables by you on the above mentioned Credit Card as on 23-Jun-2012. Please note this instruction shall over ride any other communication which you may have received from HSBC.
Your Credit Card will be cancelled after 30 days from the date of this email. Please note this is not a reflection of your credit performance on the Credit Card.
We request you to destroy the Credit Card plastic by cutting it through the magnetic strip into several pieces. Should you have any queries, please call on our PhoneBanking numbers.
In case you have provided continuous payment authority (auto-debit) mandates to any service provider/s kindly provide them with new payment mandates immediately on receipt of this email.
Please be advised that reward points in your Credit Card account can be redeemed within 30 days from the date of this email by contacting HSBC's customer service center.
In our efforts to continuously update our product suite, we are pleased to offer a few alternative card products which you may wish to apply for. Please refer below for the detailed features and application process.
HSBC MakeMyTrip
Platinum Credit Card
HSBC MakeMyTrip
Signature Credit Card
HSBC Platinum
Credit Card
Annual FeesRupees 499Rupees 3,499Rupees 2,000


Since the bank didn't declare the reason for above mail, I conclude that bank found it not profitable to service my credit card in its current usage pattern. It is not binding on the bank to serve me for ever, so their decision can't be questioned. Hence bank decided to terminate my card and give me an option to opt for a card with annual fee.

It is not very usual for banks to terminate credit cards. Because they would have spent money acquiring the credit card customer and the no of card holders a bank has got plays a significant role in Bank’s ability to negotiate great deals with other vendors/partners, Banks usually do not take the step of terminating the card saying “We don’t want to serve you anymore”
However, HSBC seemed to have taken that step with me and I prepared myself to live without HSBC card
Back in 2005-2007, banks were very aggressive issuing credit cards and life time free card scheme, first introduced by ICICI was a big hit. Till then credit card owners were charged for everything- for buying fuel, annual fees and so on. This success forced other banks too to offer life time free card. But while ICICI had volumes, others couldn't sustain free life time card schemes for long due to high cost of servicing.  For each credit card issued, banks incur following expenses:
  • Cost of the card, marketing and promotional expenses
  • Cost spent on billing systems, online portals, secure login, SMS alerts and other technology
  • Cost of reward points and associated services
  • Cost of running a call centre
  • Payments to be made to VISA
  • Cost of insurance on card holder (taken primarily to protect bank's own interests)
  • Cost of recovery in case of defaulters and risk of loss.
Above expenses will be recovered only if card holder makes lots of purchases on the card OR pays heavy interest after defaulting on payments. Banks earn money from credit cards through following way
  • Commission from merchants (about 1.5 or 2% of transaction amount)
  • Interest from defaulters (as high as 35% per year)
  • Annual fees
  • Additional charges levied (for ATM cash withdrawals, standing instructions, cash payment at branches etc) 
  • Some banks make money from co-branded cards, but most of the time co-brand cards are launched to tap into huge customer base of the other brand, without any immediate financial gain to the bank
The first 3 are key sources of income from card holders. If the credit card usage is very low and card holder always pays on time, banks won't recover their expenses. Because of this reality the aggressiveness of life time free credit cards and the overdrive of issuing cards to all and sundry has come down during past few years.

I tried to find out if it was only me or if bank has terminated several more cards as well. I couldn't find any mention of it in online forums.

Twist in the tale
As per the June 26th email, my card should have breathed its last by end of July 2012. However, during first week of august when I asked HSBC if my card is active or inactive, I didn't get any direct answer but only a copy of the above mail. Mid of august I wanted to check if they really cancelled it and used it at an outlet. Card was accepted and transaction went through.

So HSBC didn't really intend to terminate my card, but was only trying to arm-twist me into opting for a card with annual payment.  If I had agreed for a card with annual payment, I would have unnecessarily given up the benefits of life time free card.

This raises following questions:
1. If Bank says it will cancel the card after one month,it should. If it doesn't intend to cancel, why did HSBC send emails stating so and prompting for paid cards? Doesn't it qualify for bad banking practices and arm twisting? Since HSBC failed in its job of doing the work (cancelling the card), can I relieve myself from any responsibility of having to make payments against this card, irrespective of usage?

I sought a response from bank on this, but didn't receive a response yet. 

2. When a bank (or any company) launches a scheme, it should make enough provisions to support the scheme during its tenure. When mobile companies launch life time validity cards, they are expected to support the card for 20 years (their definition of lifetime,I can't help). When long term loans are issued/taken, one should be able to service the loan during that period. If HSBC can't fulfil its honor of life time free credit card for 5-10 years, how can we trust the bank with its insurance policies, loans and other long term financial instruments?

Some banks send statement only if there’s some amount to be paid. HSBC sends statement even if amount payable is ZERO. They were unnecessarily wasting their resource generating and sending those ZERO payable statements

Recently HSBC was in the limelight for facilitating money laundering to fund terror activities. 

Anyways, above post is for information purpose only. It is not a complaint against HSBC. My card is still active and I'll update this post if the bank gives satisfactory response or if there're any interesting developments.

Update: Received an SMS that my credit card has been cancelled. need to check

Disclaimer: Above post has been written in my personal capacity based on what I went through as HSBC customer. May be other customers are having good experience. Use your discretion.

Also read: Devils in pinstripes * ICICI Cycle Banking * The Incredible Banker* ICICI long term customer feedback * Book Review: Devil in pinstripes * SBI Credit card double standards * ATM Usage-Security tips * Best Practices in credit card usage *

Melbourne 5D/4N dream itinerary

Australia has been on my radar since few years. Having visited North and South America and key countries in Asia (Srilanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand), my next target is Australia and Europe. But it is a bit expensive affair to visit Australia from India for a middle class family. Return ticket costs about 50k onwards in regular airlines (even the cheapest Air Asia which connects via Kuala Lumpur costs about 36k INR onwards). Other expenses included, minimum one lakh INR will be required per person for a short trip to Australia. Because of this reason I’ve been differing Australia visit sine die. Now that Indiblogger has come up with a contest “It’s time to visit Melbourne” I’m using it as an excuse to study about Australia in general and Melbourne in particular and submit my dream itinerary in this blog post. If I win, I get to go there for free, if not I hope to materialize this itinerary some day. Good thing about the contest is that I don't have to run around requesting votes for my entry and it will be judged for the merit of its content.

During childhood, Australia has been known for Kangaroos- the animal with a pouch to keep its babies. Then Australia was popular for cricket- for winning the world cup (Related: I’ve photographed Bret Lee at Colombo beach last year- see the pics here). The movie, Dil Chahta Hai was shot in Australia partly(Harbor Bridge area in Sydney). Melbourne Cricket club is popular at par with Manchester United, it operates Melbourne Cricket Grounds, one of the biggest. Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane are some of the most popular towns in Australia. Few of my friends have shifted their base to Australia as work took them there, others have been on short visit. Seeing the photos they’ve been sharing has been quite tempting.

Coming back to the contest, below is my dream itinerary  as to what I’d like to to if taken to Australia. My dream 4 night 5 day itinerary would go as below (it has been optimized and fine tuned factoring in flight timings and heavy trade off among various possible activities, to make the most of 5 days at Melbourne):

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne, City tour on bike, MCG & Skydeck
There’s no direct nonstop flight between Chennai and Melbourne. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are the two ideal transit points. My preferred itinerary will be Chennai- Singapore in Singapore Airlines (or Jet Airways) and Singapore-Melbourne in Quantas A380. Flying in A380 is an experience of its own-I enjoyed it between JFK and Dubai earlier this year and people would die for an upgrade to upper deck (business/first class cabins). Also I’d like to plan in such a way that I can spend adequate time at Changi Airport in Singapore, because Changi airport has lots of attractions inside and also offers a free city tour to transit passengers (Read my posts on Changi and Singapore here)

A budget option will be to take Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur and then Air Asia KUL-MEL

Note to self: Among other things, be sure to pack an India-Australia power adapter (Available at Mercy Electronics in Chennai and other shops)

Once in Melbourne, how much time you’re left with in the day will depend on what time you arrive. Air Asia arrives at 9AM, Quantas arrives at about 7.25 AM, so let me assume that we’ll have most of the day at our disposal to explore the town. I’d spend some time understanding Melbourne’s public transport system and understand how we can commute in the city in easy and affordable manner. Melbourne has world's largest tram network and has an integrated ticketing system for trams, buses and trains, called Myki. I'd pickup a tourist pack of Miki on my way to the hotel.

Rest of the day I'd visit Melbourne Cricket Ground, Eureka Skydeck and do some more exploring the city cycling around in rented bikes. Bike rides are superior ways of exploring a city compared to a taxi ride. Good thing is that even helmets are available for rent/sale with the bike rental, hence no worries on safety. If we arrive by an early morning flight, we'll have enough time to cover more destinations.

Return the bike, back to hotel, dinner and sleep early so as to get up early next day.

Day 2: Hot Air Balloon Ride over Melbourne, Wildlife park and Sovereign hill
Balloon rides are one of the key attractions in Melbourne. There're multiple operators and cost of an 1 hour ride will be around 350 Australian dollars (375 if you want breakfast and champagne added). That will be a cool 20k INR but will be worth every penny as it will be a life time experience. 
Above: File image taken from Ballooning across Yarra Valley

After the balloon ride, we'll still have 2/3rd of the day left, which can be spent in exploring Ballarat Wildlife park and then Sovereign hill. The wild life park has wide range of animals not seen in Indian zoos (Kangaroos, Koalas and more). Feeding Kangaroos and other activities will also help us know these animals better

Day 3: Joy ride in 1940 Tiger moth combat aircrafts & sea plane ride
We all fly in the comfortable (economy though) seats of commercial airplanes. If I ever had a chance to fly in a war plane, I'd never miss that. Tiger Moth Joy flights offers a ride in vintage war aircrafts (1940 Tiger Moths and Yak 52s)
Visit RAAF museum after the joy ride. Explore Point Cook Coastal park nearby. This would take morning half. After going up in air, time to do some adventure in ocean. Head to Williamstown and enjoy a sea plane ride. The 1 hour ride in sea plane helps us see scenic views of Melbourne coast line. 
Day 4: Full day tour of great ocean road
This is a standard package any tour operator would add to your itinerary, which will let us enjoy the Victoria country side outside Melbourne city. The tour will be a full day activity from 7AM to 9PM covering Bells beach, memorial arch, Kennett River, Rainforests, Loch Ard Gorge and an added possibility of helicopter ride.

Day 5: Melbourne Museum, Checkout and Back to India
How much time you'll have on this day depends on your flight timing. Quantas flight to Singapore leaves at 4.40 PM. So it will be safe to assume we'll have about half a day to make the most of Melbourne (Air Asia flight leaves at 9.35AM, so nothing can be explored on last day in this option)

While indulging in adventure, it is also important to learn the history and heritage of a country. Visiting a museum is the best way to do this. Post breakfast, head to St Patrick's Cathedral (because it can be explored early while Melbourne museum opens at 10 AM). Then head to explore Melbourne Museum.

Back to hotel by 12 noon, checkout, lunch and leave for airport.(Alternate option is to check out first and then head. Final plan would depend on hotel location and other factors)

Well, I've jotted down my dream itinerary (5D/4N). I had to trade off lot of destinations/attractions as we can't do/visit everything in 5 days.  Most of the adventure activities cost few hundred AUD and we'll need substantial savings to enjoy them. I don't think tourism victoria will cover them if I win, so I've started my savings. If you're still waiting to explore Melbourne, it's your time to visit Melbourne now! . 

Update: The contest has ended and I didn't make it. Got a consolation prize of a customized pen drive (given to all participants) I'll have to visit Melbourne at my own expense now.

Update 2: I might be headed to Melbourne in early 2016- Booked cheap Air Asia return tickets and planning.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Alamparai fort off ECR needs urgent attention!

Need to take a break from Thailand posts and write about something closer home. Alamparai is a fort some 110 kms from Chennai, off ECR near a village called Kadapakkam. It has an ancient  17 century fort by the sea side, about which I’d written earlier. View my earlier posts here and here

During a recent visit I found that this fort needs urgent attention. Its walls are falling off into water. At present this fort is left to itself unattended and remains of the forts are at the mercy of nature and locals. 

Below: Remains of the fort wall collapsed 

Above: Rest of the wall cracked and all set to collapse
Below: Trees growing on fort walls, will eventually loosen the bricks and let them fall off
 View of the fort from the opposite side
The fort needs some restoration and walls need support to prevent further collapse. Adjacent to it is a nice backwater ideal for swimming and boating. With some effort it can be converted into nice tourist destination.
There’re couple of boards outside the fort, but not sure if archeological survey of India, which takes care of ancient heritages is monitoring this place.

Do share and bring this to the attention of others. May be it will reach the right people and action will be taken

Other offbeat destinationsMaravanthe * Nagara fort Yercaud * Kuruva Island, Wayanad *Durgam Cheruvu, Madhapur, Hyderabad * Gingee fort *

Review: Hotel Le Fenix: Sukhumvit, Bangkok

Le Fenix is a nice 8 floor hotel in Sukhumvit area of Bangkok. The hotel management seems to be obsessed with L, so almost everything in this hotel is L shaped- the windows, the door handle, the floor mats, the false roofing and so on...

Rooms are well equipped with safety lock, coffee maker and other standard facilities. Flexible reading lamps hear the pillow are nice.
Above: View of the room (notice the L shaped window) and the bathroom door which is semi transparent and has a significant gap. Doesn't offer full privacy if you're particular about it.

The pool is located at 7th floor and is just 1.05m deep. It is good enough to get wet and play in water, but not good for any practical swimming. Gym is also located at 7th floor and has one set of basic gym equipments. Open from 6AM to 9PM (unlike 8AM to 8PM as in Pattaya Garden hotel)
Sky train station is about 1 km from Le Fenix Hotel (Nana station). Couple of Indian restaurants are also nearby (Dosa King)

Hotel staff are fine. Not all can speak English, but a staff who couldn't converse in English ensured that someone who speaks English called me back to clear my doubt.

Restaurant is OK. Opens at 6AM. On first day, when we went there at 6 AM (as we had to leave early for Tiger temple tour) our main item- the fresh fruits were not yet ready. They had rice soup (Ganji in Kannada) but no pickle :( 

1000 baht per room was blocked as security amount.

Key cards got de-activated about 1 hour before our check out time. We had to get it re-activated

6th floor is a smoking floor- avoid that floor if you don't smoke. If you're on 3rd floor, you have to pass through the restaurant to reach your room.

Le Fenix is part of the Acor hotel chain (they also own Ibis and few other hotel brands). You'll get some loyalty points  if you have the membership card. But membership card is not free.

Also be advised that Sukhumvit doesn't have a good reputation as a locality. But we didn't find/experience anything objectionable. You may use your discretion.

Related: Pattaya Garden hotelPeninsula Excelsior Singapore * Grand Seasons, Kuala Lumpur * Club Mahindra Binsar,

One for facebook

If you thought Buddhist monks or those associated with religious activities are not interested in technology, you're mistaken. During a ceremony at Golden Mount, Bangkok, a Buddhist priest gives his Samsung Galaxy S to a tourist and asks the tourist to take a few pics of his. Tourist happily obliges and the monk happily checks the photo. I'm sure he would have uploaded it to facebook

Now take one with me praying...
 Thanks. It's come out well. Let me share it with the world.
 The Golden Mount temple*

Cute minitruck in Thailand

We saw this mini truck overtaking us while returning from Tiger temple tour. It was cruising pretty fast. Very small in size, it grabbed my attention, more because from front it looked like Tata Nano.

Didn't look like it had a rear engine as in Nano. So it can't be a modified Nano. Is it a Chinese remake of nano design? not sure. It is shorter than Tata Ace, may be as small as Magic Iris

I tried searching for Gemsy Gold, no luck. Then opened and learnt that the vehicle belonged to Chinese brand Gemsy which makes sewing machines and other such equipment.

Also check: Maserati offers * Cars in Singapore

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Maserati Thailand: 4 years drive for free offer

We're seeing auto manufacturers in India trying desperate strategies to clear stock of petrol cars. Maruti rolled out a scheme recently wherein customers roll a dice and based on number, get upto 36 litres of petrol (details on Drivespark) , Hyundai offered petrol vouchers to push sales of Santro and i10 (details). Some other manufacturer had offered to pay back the price difference if petrol price increases in next 1 year. Needless to say all these companies will have some fine print to protect their interests (like max x litres per year etc)

Saw this Maserati ad at Bangkok Suvarnabhoomi airport. Maserati is an Italian luxury car manufacturer. While Maserati is not that well known in India, its parent company, Ferrari is very well known.

Maserati Quattroporte, shown in below ad is a 4 door saloon which is priced at about 1.4 crores ex show room in India. Its Thailand division, managed by FERMA Motors has advertised below offer for Maserati
4 year 0% interest
4 year free maintenance
4 year warranty
4 years free gasoline.

While first 3 didn't move the jaw, fourth one was tempting. I am sure they'll have some fine print limiting the max gasoline they'd provide under this scheme. I tried probing their website for details and fine print, but no luck.

Your thoughts? If launched in India, end of 4 years petrol will be more expensive than the car itself and Maserati might end up regretting the offer.

Instead of giving so many things free, I would prefer they give me the car free, I can take care of the rest. Anyway, if this offer tempts you, head to Thailand Now.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Underwater sea walk at Pattaya coral island

Tried under sea walk at Pattaya- it was a great experience.

Other than few dips and swims near the shore, I haven't spent much time in sea water. During the Coral island trip from Pattaya, had the opportunity of exploring marine life in a different way.

For 1200 baht per person (2300 INR or USD 40), one can spend about 20-30 minutes walking on the ocean bed, having up close view of the marine life.
An oxygen mask will be put on (as shown in above pic) and we'll be asked to go down into the sea water. The mask is connected to oxygen supply through a pipe. Though we're immersed fully in water, air remains above neck level and we can breath normally. Taking full breath was little difficult, but taking smaller breaths was easy.

About 10-12 people will be let inside in a batch, who once reaching ocean bed will form a semi circle holding each others' hand. Staff on duty would open up bread packets under water and fishes would come close trying to eat these food items. They are so many in number and seem to be fully used to tourists. They gather courage and come close to take a bite of the bread piece, but won't let us touch them.
Apart from seeing fishes up close, we were also shown coral pieces and other interesting creatures. In the above picture, each of the pipe would be connecting to one tourist's oxygen mask

If you need a photo/video of your adventure, pay 700 baht extra. We didn't opt for it.

Be sure to keep your head vertical all the time. Any tilting will result in more water entering the mask. You may experience little pain the ear.

Some influential tour guide like person was managing to push his people ahead of the queue, hand in glove with the guy in charge. This resulted in heated arguments and eventually the queue system was honored.

Also see: Parasailing in Pattaya * Scuba diving in Netrani *  Hot air balloon ride

Monday, August 20, 2012

Golden Mount temple-Wat Saket

Golden Mount is a small Buddha temple in Bangkok, close to Grand Palace. Visiting this place was not in our plan. We had half day to spare and a local guy guided us to this place.

Golden Mount has a Stupa erected on top of a small hill. It isn't natural but man made. Build by King Rama  3, 4 and 5. [More history on Wikipedia] Going to top involves climbing 300+ steps. Steps are well laid and climbing is very easy- similar to driving in circles around a hill to reach hill top, the steps circle around the stupa. Going on top of the Golden Mount lets us have a 360 degree view of Bangkok town. 

Above: Bells on the way to Wat Saket.

As we reached the top, a group of tourists/pilgrims was engaged in some ritual. They had a big strip of cloth and to which they were affixing flower like things. Once done, they held it and conducted a prayer. Some text in the prayer included :
Buddham sharanam gacchami I go to the Buddha for refuge. Dharmam sharanam gacchami I go to the Dharma for refuge. Sangham sharanam gacchami I go to the Sangha for refuge. Dutiyampi Buddham sharanam gacchami For a second time, I go to the Buddha for refuge. Dutiyampi Dharmam sharanam gacchami For a second time, I go to the Dharma for refuge. Dutiyampi Sangham sharanam gacchami For a second time, I go to the Sangha for refuge. Tatiyampi Buddham sharanam gacchami For a third time, I go to the Buddha for refuge. Tatiyampi Dhammam sharanam gacchami For a third time, I go to the Dhamma for refuge. Tatiyampi Sangham sharanam gacchami For a third time, I go to the Sangha for refuge.

Above prayer text and English translation sourced from this link, as I felt lazy to type again

The hill also had a small waterfalls. Not sure if it is natural, since the hill is too small to clash with the clounds and generate water.

 View of Bangkok town from top of Golden mount.
We were expecting to leave the footwear on the way, but they are allowed till very top. There were signs all the way saying "Do not leave the footwear here"

We took a tuk-tuk from Grand Palace at a cost of 40 Baht (INR 75). Few other  Buddha temples and Souvenir shops also exist in the campus. Entry is free. In November Golden mount will have its annual ritual.

Also see: Chinese temple near River kwai * Sleeping Buddha temple * Golden Buddha temple 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Kuang-im Chinese Chappel temple near River Kwai

River Kwai is a historical river in Thailand. The Bridge across River Kwai is a popular movie. More about River kwai in a separate post. Adjacent to River kwai bridge lies a beautiful Chinese temple. It was closed when we visited, but below are some pics of the same.

Do not know much about its history and significance. The board says "Kuang-Im Chapel" but couldn't find much about it on the net

 Closeup of the roof top art- lots of dragons

 View of the Kuang Im Chinese chapel from the River Kwai bridge

 Another small temple and statue
 A big statue
 View of River Kwai and its bridge from the top of Chinese temple