Cerebral Shangrila

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Thailand - Travelogue

The Kingdom of Thailand draws more visitors than any other country in southeast Asia with its irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, renowned hospitality, robust cuisine and ruins of fabulous ancient kingdoms.From the sun Soaked Beaches & pristine islands and clear waters in Phuket to magnificent Wats(Temples) in Bangkok and the flashy nightlife , the diversity of Thailand is amazing.

VISA DETAILS : Indian Tourists traveling for less than 14 days can obtain an on-arrival Visa for 1000 Thai Bahts.However if one intends to stay for a longer time the visa needs to be obtained from the Country of residence.

WHEN TO GO ? By far the best time to visit is from February to March when the weather is kind and the beaches are at their finest.The peak seasons are August, November, December, February and March, with secondary peak months in January and July.

CURRENCY : The Currency of Thailand is Thai Baht.One Thai Baht is approximately equivalent to One Rupee. So its easier for Indians to measure the value of goods !

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS : Bangkok,Phuket,Pattaya,Ayudhya.

CULTURE : Religion and monarchy are the cornerstones of Thai culture.The Monarchy is reveredin Thailand.95% of Thailand is Buddhist (Theravada).

FOOD : Thai cuisine is pungent and spicy, seasoned with heaps of garlic and chillies and a characteristic mix of lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander. Galanga root, basil, ground peanuts, tamarind juice, ginger and coconut milk are other common additions.However thanks to westernaization American food joints like Mcdonalds,KFC,Subway are common everywhere.
" The Pizza Company" is a widely found franchisee and offers Vegetarian & Double cheese Pizza for veggie foodlovers. The Salom road area in Bangkok has a variety of Indian restaurants including Woodlands,India Hut and there is also a Komala Vilas in Bangkok. The Patong Beach in Phuket too has many Indian restaurants just opposite to the beach.

CLIMATE : Thailand's climate is ruled by monsoons that produce three seaons in northern, northeastern and central Thailand and two in southern Thailand. Generally the 'dry and wet monsoon climate' arrives sometime between May and July and lasts into November. It is followed by a dry season from November to May in which temperatures are relatively lower until February and then begin to soar from March to May.The October weather was Madras/Mumbai like ,with temperatures hovering around 35c with high humidity.


Long Distance : The Trains are comfortable but very slow and infrequent.The Buses are excellent (most of them are Mercedes Buses) with reclining seats & AC for long distance travel.

Inside City : Plenty of taxis are available.But insist on Meter since every taxi driver is out to fleece you.Tuk-tuks are like the Autos found in India and are a bit cheaper. The Traffic is crazy on the roads.Bangkok is famous for its traffic jams and a distance of 20 kmscan take 2 hours at peak hours.

Its a city of contrasts.The roads are dominated by flyovers that make you feel as if the entire city is built of flyovers.The Wats are Magnificent and breath-taking, the night life raunchier and active and the old city crumbling and deserted.The important places to see in Bangkok are :

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew : A stupendous architechtural achievement .The wat structures are colorful with gleaming stupas & rich marble pediments.Extensive murals depicting scenes from Ramakian (The Thai version of the Indian epic Ramayana) line the inside walls of the compound.The beautiful emerald buddha is also located inside the Palace.The palace is a photographers delight.Its open from 830 to 1130 and from 1300 to 1530hrs.Shorts,slippers are not allowed.
Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha) : No Superlatives can do justice to this temple.The oldest & largest wat in bangkok, it features the largest reclining buddha (46m long and 15m high).The giant reclining buddha is molded of plaster around a brick core and finished in gold leaf.Its open from 8am to 5pm.
Wat Traimit ( Golden Buddha) : It houses the impressive three metre tall , 5.5 tonne solid gold buddha image which gleams like no other gold artefact I've ever seen.This temple is open from 8am to 5pm.
Wat Arun (The temple of Dawn) : Named after the hindu god of Dawn ( Aruna),it is more impressive to look at from the River.It has a giant 82m prang (tower).
Wat Benchamabophit ( Marble Temple) : Serene & beautiful.A great place for meditation and the gardens add to the charm of the place.
River & Canal Trips : There is a wide gamut of trips on the Chao Phraya river.The shorttrips last for 2 hours and take you to mini floating markets,Snake & crocodile farms,Wat Arun view.There are also the hyped sunset,Dinner cruises and the longer WatSai & Damneon saduak Floating market cruises.Damneon lies 104 kms from Bangkok and is a better floating market than wat sai.
Nightlife : Bangkok is also very famous for its raunchier much hyped nightlife consisting of bars,coffeehouses,nightclubs and massage parlours.

AYUDHYA : Ayudhya lies 86 kms to the north of Bangkok and was a former capital city of Thailand.The city was named after the City of Ayodhya ( The capital of Lord Rama in the Hindu epic Ramayana).It is famous for its World heritage ruins of Ayodhya,historical study centre and floating markets.

PHUKET : They Call it the " Pearl of South". Its a must see place for any tourist to Thailand.It is famous for its Sandy beaches,limestone cliffs,forrested hills and crystal clear waters.Its a paradise for swimmers,snorkellers,parasailers & scuba divers.It is a 12 Hour bus journey from Bangkok to Phuket.There are also local flights like Phuket Air,Thai Airasia operating between Bangkok & Phuket.Phuket has three main beaches viz Patong,Karon,Kata.Patong is the largest of the three and is quite commercial too and has an active nightlife and wonderful marine actvities like Snorkelling,scuba diving.Kata & Karon are much quieter beaches with silver sands and beautiful coastlines.

ISLANDS : The must see islands around Phuket include Phi-Phi islands,Maya Beach (Where the movie Beach *ing Leonardo Decaprio was Shot),Khai Island.The above places are a one day tour from Phuket in a speed boat with oppourtunities to Snorkell,Canoe and swim.The islands are breath-takng with wonderful views and the Greenest/bluest waters one would have ever seen.There is also a half day trip to James Bond island where the bond movie " The man with the golden gun" was shot.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES : Bangkok is an amazing city.The Wats are spectacular and I was amazed after seeing the reclining and golden buddhas.Its a photographer's delight.The palace is grand and visit it early in the morning to get some good photos.Phuket was fantastic.Haven't seen clearer waters than this ever in my life and the parasailing was an unforgettable experience (they dropped me in the middle of the Ocean in a parachute !).The islands are awesome with picture postcard views and the speed boat drive is a memorable one that I would cherish for a long time.Imagine travelling at 100 km/hr in the mid ocean with clear blue waters all around you.

The Indian influence in Thailand is stunning.The Ramayana is a celebrated epic there.Indian food,music & movies have a big footprint too .Was also Surprised to meet so many Tamils in Bangkok.

TRAVEL TIPS : English is not widely spoken in Thailand and hence language could be a major problem during the trip.Carry a lot of Sunblock lotion.Plan your trip very carefully and do not miss Bangkok,Phuket,Ayudhya.Bargain everywhere because the locals can fleece you otherwise.Vegetarians have little choice in food but the good news is that there is some veggie dish everywhere.Carry a Map wherever you go and check the timings for Wats.Dress properly when visiting temples.Practise your swimming skills before going to Phuket.Its truly " Amazing Thailand" !

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Week of Happenings

Exams are over ! While I was immersed in my books during the past week , a lot seems to have happened in the world ! ( Isn't that ironical ). Veerappan has been Killed by the STF . Great job. While the press has been debating if it was a suicide or a shootout , I believe the end result matters. The elephants in Karnataka,TN can breathe easily now. Interestingly I have a photograph taken with Vijaykumar (STF Chief) when he presided over one of my School Sports Day functions and handed me a prize.

On the other side of the Globe , the unthinkable has happened. The Boston Red Sox beat the NY Yankees to enter the World series. Probably the " curse of Bambino" lost its spell !

So I am off to Thailand tomorrow morning. No blogging for next one week and I shall be back on Saturday .

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Thailand - Here I come

Just one more exam to go ( Saturday). The entire next week is vacation for me before the start of the next trimester. I am going to Thailand on Sunday with a few friends . Got a good deal in one of the low cost airlines ( Air Asia). We intend to visit Bangkok & Phuket ( and if possible Pattaya). I have heard a lot about Thailand being one of the most visited nation by tourists from all over the world and of course heard the other side (dark side) of the story too. So it will be a refreshing few days away from the world of Cases,assignments & books !

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Three down , one more to go

Three of my exams are over . Just one more to go ( on Saturday). They say MBA stands for " Mostly A's & B's " . Let me see how true it is.Wish it was true !

Monday, October 18, 2004

Open Book Exams

Just finished my Economics Exam. Was troubling my 6 year old cousin yesterday seeking Pencils,eraser & Sharpeners from him :-)

Most of the exams in MBA are Open Book exams. One is permitted to bring his/her Laptop ( No internet connection though) , Books,Notes etc.. This must be shocking for most Indians in particular since in India exams are sacrosanct with no external help. The adventurous of course always managed to slip in the Bit,resorted to mass copying & became rebels of the Class.

The joke about Open book exams is that the book is of little help to you.Since most of the Questions are thought based ( Which make you think than state facts ) , books are of less help and in fact one might end up wasting time .In most of the exams I am taking , the final exam counts only for 40% or 50% of the final since we have already been evaluated for the rest in the form of Cases,assignments,Class participation.

I really enjoyed the Macroeconomics and hope to sustain that interest.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Exam Time

I am searching for the guy who invented the concept of " Exams".Let me know if you find him.

My first trimester exams are next week and its back to 18 Hour days ( I think i last did all this madness probably 7 years ago during my engg days).So the blog posts might be fewer in the coming days . Letz see how the exams go............

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Is it the best Ad of 20th Century ?

Apple not only makes cool products but everything about the company is " cool" . The TV-Guide has voted this ad (Click on the link to see the ad) for Macintosh as the best ad of the 20th century. The amazing thing is this ad ran just once during the NFL Superbowl of 1984 but has been repeated by talk shows & other TV programs numerous times. Having read George Orwell's " 1984" just now , I am amazed at the creativity of the ad makers. For the uninitiated, here is a brief history about the ad :

In December, 1983, Apple Computers ran its' famous "1984" Macintosh television commercial, on a small unknown station solely to make the commercial eligible for awards during 1984. The commercial cost 1.5 million and only ran once in 1983, but news and talk shows everywhere replayed it, making TV history. The next month, Apple Computer ran the same ad during the NFL Super Bowl, and millions of viewers saw their first glimpse of the Macintosh computer. The commercial was directed by Ridley Scott, and the Orwellian scene depicted the IBM world being destroyed by a new machine, the "Macintosh".

Sunday, October 10, 2004

B-School Rankings

I do not trust B-schools rankings very much. But there was considerable excitement at our School on Friday , when "ECONOMIST" rated us as the Top Business School in ASEAN Region and one of the Top 10 in Asia ( Asia & Australia combined). We were voted the # 1 School in Asia based on " Student Diversity" & # 3 on " Faculty Strength".

However, at the global level we are ranked towards the end of the Top 100 list ( A curse which befalls most Asian Schools including IIM-A ! ). Its good to see the Brand of NBS Growing.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Nobel Peace Prize

It is heartening to see that the Nobel Prize for Peace has been awarded to Wangari Maathai , a Kenyan environmental activist,whose Green belt movement has been responsible for planting of more than 30 million trees. Normally Peace prize is awarded to people who prevent armed conflicts. Its a wonderful positive step by the Nobel Committee to recognise the magnitude of environmental conservation.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Blogger Founder leaves Google

Evan Williams,the founder of Pyra Labs ( Creators of Blogger) is leaving Google. He announced that decision in his Blog. The " Father (Founder)" is happy that he is leaving the " Baby (Blogger) " in safe hands (Google). Here is the report from CNET.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Best "Out-Of-Office" Replies one Can Set

Got this mail from one of my Humor Newsgroups.

The Best "Out-Of-Office" E-Mail Auto-Replies one can set :

1. I am currently out at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position.

2. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.

3. I will be unable to delete all the unread, worthless emails you send me until I return from vacation on 4/18. Please be patient and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

4. Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queueing system. You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

5. Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first ten words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.

6. I've run away to join a different circus.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

e-Choice - US Elections

Its the age of internet. Are you confused about whom to vote for, in the upcoming US Presidential elections ? Don't worry , there is help on the internet. You can express your views on important election issues ( Like Homeland Security,Education,Taxes,Healthcare etc..) and this website will tell you which US Presidential Candidate closely matches your views.

I did a sample survey and found out I was a Democrat ! Try it out , afterall who doesn't want to have a say in electing the most powerful man on earth ( Though I know most people who read my blog don't have Voting rights in the US ) .....

Monday, October 04, 2004

BBC - HARDtalk India

It did turn out to be a Hard Talk. For a difference this time by the Interviewee than the Interviewer. Read this Verbatim transcipt of Jayalalitha's Interview to Karan Thapar in BBC World.

I have no comments to offer further.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Issue of "foreign" Consultants

After weeks of deliberation, the Govt has finally yielded to the left's demands and has scrapped the policy advisory groups containing foreign consultants from World Bank,Asian Development Bank (ADB), Mckinsey & Co.

This incident has once again exposed the double Standards of the Indian Communists(CPM). Communists refuse to accept experts from World Bank,ADB,Mckinsey & Co in the Planning Commission's Advisory Groups but West Bengal Govt is using McKinsey to revamp its agro and IT sectors, ADB to clean up the Kolkata Municipal Corporation mess and accept aid from the UK government to restructure its dying PSUs. Here is the report on Indian Express.

When will these communists grow up and come out of their Selective Xenophobia ? Shame on the Commies.God save our Country.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


We all know Fishing . But What is Phishing ? Phishing is one of the fastest growing identity thefts on the Internet. Phishing is a technique used to gain personal information for purposes of identity theft, using fraudulent e-mail messages that appear to come from legitimate businesses. These authentic-looking messages are designed to fool recipients into divulging personal data such as account numbers and passwords, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.

Isn't that really scary ? For Example, You get a message which looks like to come from someone@citibank.com , asking you for your Credit Card Details,Social Security Number etc for verification, but it turns out to be from someone fraudelent trying to cheat you.

How Big is it ? The Federal Trade Commission reported that 9.9 million U.S. residents have been victims of identify theft during the past year, costing businesses and financial institutions $48 billion and consumers $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses.

How to prevent it ? Found a nice article from Anti-phishing Working Group on how to prevent this. Here is the Link from Microsoft's website on prevention.

Be Cautious before divulging any personal Information , we all know how dangerous the internet can be.