Monday, January 26, 2015

Tourist Prepaid SIM Cards in Macau

There are two mobile telephony operators in Macau whose prepaid SIM cards can be purchased by tourists - "3 Macau" (Hutchison) and "CTM BEST". It is hard to spot company shops selling these SIM cards but other retailers and road-side SIM card vendors sell them in the markets located in the lanes around all the major casinos in Macau city. Some are exclusive mobile shops while some others combine mobile phone business with their money exchange / money lending / pawn business, etc. There are very few signboards in English so one needs to recognize these shops from the merchandise on sale. Vendors usually do not ask for any document for selling prepaid SIM cards and these SIM cards get activated automatically when the first local or IDD call is made. Prices of prepaid SIM cards start at 50 HKD/MOP which includes 50 HKD/MOP or more pre-loaded talk time. That means you get 100% or more talk time on the new prepaid SIM cards. Subsequent recharge transactions also bring some bonus talk time according to the offers current at the time. In this page I will give details of the prepaid SIM cards on offer from 3 Macau and CTM, local & IDD call rates, data packs, balance/validity checking numbers/codes, and recharge options, etc. It will save some money for you if you pay for your SIM card in MOP rather than HKD because of the HKD-MOP exchange rate difference. You may also like to carry printouts of the card package images given in this page to avoid communication problem with the vendor. Keep reading...




Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to Get a 20% Discount on Priority Pass First Year Membership Fee

Priority Pass is the world's leading airport lounge access program giving its members access to 700 airport lounges across the world. The program has three levels of membership: Standard, Standard Plus, and Prestige with varying number of free lounge visits in a year. The Prestige level membership at an annual fee of 399 USD allows unlimited free lounge visits to the member while the Standard Plus membership caps the free lounge visits to 10 in a year but comes at a reduced annual fee of 249 USD. Standard membership does not entitle the member to any free visit but has a low annual fee of 99 USD. Paid visits and guest visits to Priority Pass lounges cost 27 USD per person per visit. Membership and visit charges vary according to the country of your residence, so please see the Priority Pass website for the exact charges applicable for you. Paid visits at 27 USD each appear to be expensive but are good value at some of the airport lounges where apart from free food and free drinks, shower facilities are also available. Moreover, priority Pass guarantees you access to airport lounges regardless of the airline or the class of travel. Well, if you already like Priority Pass, I am sure you would love to get a 20% discount on the first year membership fee. Some banks offer completely free or discounted Priority Pass membership in which case the discounts go up to 50% but additionally one may have to pay the annual credit card fee. I incidentally found a direct discount of 20% offered by Priority Pass. Keep reading...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Do Prepaid Forex Cards Make Your Holiday More Expensive?

My answer to the above question would be a "Yes" but then prepaid Forex cards do happen to exist in our world and that can only be so if there are people who find these cards useful. Before I get to talking about what makes prepaid Forex cards a little too expensive, let us first see the  benefits of prepaid Forex cards. The primary feature and selling point of prepaid Forex cards is that these cards are safe and secure. The safety is due to the four digit PIN that is supposed to be known only to the customer and the security is that in case the customer loses the card, they can contact their bank to block the card and prevent its misuse. On the convenience front, a Forex card can be used at all Visa/MasterCard merchant outlets and Visa/MasterCard ATMs across the world. Some other benefits of Forex cards that are advertised by banks are: built-in travel insurance cover, online usage and tracking, etc. Your bank may have compiled a list of 10 other benefits of their Forex card product but trust me, much of that would be irrelevant. Keep reading...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Matha Kuar Shrine Kushinagar

A few meters away from the Maha Parinirvana Temple in Kushinagar lies a simple structure called 'Matha Kuar Shrine'. This small building is so unimposing that it hardly conveys the importance of this Shrine in the discovery of Kushinagar as the actual place where Lord Buddha attained Maha Parinirvana. There is a Buddha image inside this Shrine carved in blue stone depicting Buddha under the Bodhi Tree in the 'Bhumisparsha Mudra' (Earth Touching Attitude). An inscription on the pedestal of this image dated the construction of this Shrine by a local Kalachuri Chieftain during the 10-11th century. Later the Shrine was subjected to destruction and plunder by someone. The Buddha image was broken and its upper part was thrown out of the temple and later supported against the trunk of a mango tree nearby. This Buddha image gave the name of 'Matha Kuar' to this place that was later deduced by historians to be 'Mrit Kumar' or 'Dead Prince'. Thus came the suspicion that this place was perhaps 'Kushinara' where Lord Buddha had attained Maha Parinirvana. Keep reading...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cheap Prepaid Internet For Tourists in Thailand

Tourist Sim or Traveller Sim are a type of prepaid SIM cards in Thailand that offer unlimited internet for a few days and special call rates for making international calls. Its perfect except that such 'Tourist SIM Cards' cost 299 THB which is not really cheap. Unlimited internet is a plus but tourists visiting Thailand are not going to spend much of their time surfing the internet. So, my question is, is it really worth spending that 299 THB on a SIM card or is their a better option. I guess there is. We already know that international calls from Thailand can be made really cheap by using calling cards such as Bolo Card that offers very low rates like 1 THB Per Minute for calling some countries in South Asia including India. A prepaid SIM like the DTAC Happy Smartphone Sim costs just 49 THB, can be purchased at 7-Eleven shops, and comes with a pre-loaded talk time of 15 THB. If I were to use Bolo Card for making my calls back home, I will never need to top-up this card because when I use Bolo Card, the stored talk time of the SIM Card does not get used. Now that only leaves the question of internet. And there is a perfect answer for that question too. Meet the Time Based Internet Packs on offer by DTAC Thailand. Keep reading...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wat Chedi Luang and City Pillar Chiang Mai

Wat Chedi Luang is one of the most prominent temples of Chiang Mai's old city. The grounds of this temple are also home to 'The Sao Inthakin' or 'City Pillar' which, assisted by three Dipterocarp trees planted close to it, is supposed to be  protecting the city of Chiang Mai. Wat Chedi itself has a long history. Originally there were three temples here - Wat Ho Tham, Wat Sukmin and Wat Chedi Lunag of which now only one 'Wat Chedi Luang' remains. 'Chedi' literally means 'pagoda' and this Buddhist temple got its name from a massive pagoda constructed here that was the largest structure in Chiang Mai when constructed. The building of this Chedi was started by King Saen Muang Ma in the 14th century. The king wanted to bury his father's ashes at this place. But he could not complete the construction which was later completed in 1475 by King Tilokaraj. The height of the Chedi at that time was 82 meters. The upper 30 meters of the pagoda got destroyed in the year 1545 due to an earthquake. The present day structure is a UNESCO sponsored reconstruction that was taken up in the 1990s. Keep reading...

Tha Phae Gate Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai's heart is its old city with its many Buddhist temples including the city's oldest temple Wat Chiang Man, the Three Kings Monument, and a few museums too. The old city is surrounded by a moat which still has water in it. And in the center of the four boundaries of the old city are four original "Gates" - Chiang Mai Gate on the south side, Suan Dok Gate on the west side, Chang Puak Gate on the north side, and Tha Phae Gate on the east side. East side is the one that is closest to Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar area. But Tha Phae Gate is not prominent just because of its proximity to Night Bazaar. Tha Phae Gate dates back to the beginning of Mang Rai Dynasty (1296-1558 A.D.) when King Mang Rai founded the city of Chiang Mai in the year 1296. The gate was originally known as Chiang Ruak Gate named after a nearby village of that name. "Tha Phae" literally means "Raft Landing" which was the name it got over a period of time. Keep reading...

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rajdarbar Indian Restaurant Night Bazaar Chiang Mai

Anusarn Market in Night Bazaar area of Chiang Mai does have a few restaurants that serve Indian food, including vegetarian Indian food. But those restaurants mainly serve Arabic food which is predominantly non-vegetarian. I knew there had to be an exclusive Indian restaurant around there somewhere. My search did not take very long and I found one close to my hotel - Suriwongse Hotel, at the beginning of Loi Kroh Road. This was Rajdarbar Indian Restaurant (99/2, Loi Kroh Road, Phone: 053-279 424/427), next to Hotel Le Meridien (see location map below). Rajdarbar opens everyday from 10.00am to midnight and has both vegetarian & non-vegetarian Indian food and a limited drinks menu of soft drinks, beer, and wine. The best thing about Rajdarbar is their easy on the wallet pricing, like a large bottle of Chang, Leo, or Singha at 100 THB or a full Indian combo meal starting at 200 THB. Keep reading...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wat Chiang Man: Chiang Mai's Oldest Temple

A not to be missed attraction of Chiang Mai's old city is its oldest Buddhist temple called 'Wat Chiang Man' built during the time of Mang Rai dynasty (1296-1558 A.D.) and later partly restored in the year 1571. A new building of a prayer hall called "ubosot" was constructed in 1805. A stone inscription in front of this "ubosot" in this temple complex states that the city of Chiang Mai was founded by King Mang Rai and his friends in the year 1296. The stone inscription also states that during the time of founding of the Chiang Mai, King Mang Rai stayed in the place where the present day Wat Chiang Man is situated. Certainly, its the most historically important temple of the old city of Chiang Mai. A modern temple building is constructed in the front but some very old buildings are still there in the back. Prepare to spend some time in Wat Chiang Man. Keep reading...
Blog by: Narinder Singh