My Visit Of The Golden Mount And A Little Scam Story
Today I went to visit the Golden Mount Chedi in Bangkok. Its full name is Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan or also Phu Khao Thong in the Thai language.
Actually the wat itself is located besides the Golden Mount and is also worth a visit. It has a richly decorated ubosoth and lots of old Buddhist paintings showing the full Buddhist universe of traditional beliefs.
To me it's one of the better places to see when you go sightseeing in Bangkok and I can warmly recommend it to everybody. Wat PhraKeo, Wat Pho and Wat Arun are maybe more popular but those who are into that kind of sightseeing and are interested in Buddhism should not miss it.
To the reach the top of the Golden Mount, you must ascend an easy 318 steps and as they are not of the usual height it's not very exhausting to do. It's a walk accompanied with many flowers, figurines and artificial waterfalls and you can ring many bells while ascending the mount.
It's very relaxing in fact and gave me some peace of mind even before I actually arrived at the destination itself.
After a ten-minute walk one reaches the chedi's hall and is rewarded with a cooling breeze and a great 360 degree view over Bangkok. On a clear day you can also see old Rattanakosin Island.
There are many Buddhas and of course also a leaf-gold covered one at center of the chedi where many Thais bow down to pay their respect to the great teacher of wisdom and peace of mind. It is said that it holds a relic of the Buddha himself.
All in all it's a very pleasant experience for everyone but in addition I'd like to sharpen your senses for what goes on at the souvenir shop up there.
I intended to buy two souvenir-bells and four small golden Buddhas and I knew in a place like this it is a bit costlier than usual as part of the price goes into the temple's fund.
While I was choosing my souvenirs a lady mentioned the prices in quite a pushy and unruly manner given the place which did not disturb me very much but made me calculate while picking.
Small bell = 150 baht, medium bell = 250, 4 small Buddha's 100 each.. Kaching! Makes 800 baht.
The lady then hit the buttons of her calculator and presented me a total of a whooping 2150 baht which made me laugh and change into Thai language.
So I said sorry but I don't understand your calculation. She replied that two of the same sized Buddha's would be more expensive, one at 400 and the other 500 baht. So that would be 1500 baht in total. I replied to her and I started laughing again and said: "No way.. !"
Are you trying to play me for a fool, I asked her. If you wanna do that you gotta make sure you know how to calculate correctly. She even insisted on her price and did not wanna move an inch back. She must be very successful with other visitors it seems but not with me and therefore I gently put back the things on the shelf and said: "Have a good day and good luck for future customers!"
The Buddha teaches us to always be mindful and that how it helped me in an very common situation.
Wat Saket is located in Pom Prap Sattru Phai district, within the compounds of Wat Saket. There are no skytrains or MRT to this area, so the best way to reach the Wat Saket is by taking the taxi. Tell the taxi to take you to Wat Saket. You should use your trip to visit other nearby sights.
Location: Chakkaphatdi Phong Road
Opening hours: 7:30am-5:30pm
Entrance fees: At the entrance of the chedi is a donation box asking for a friendly 10 baht.
Where else do all visitors, farangs included, pay as little as that?
Additional Info: Just north of Wat Saket is also where you can catch canal boats back to the town center, Siam or further up Sukhumvit.
It's a nice spot and definitely worth visiting – and there's a pleasant view from the top. It's only about a 15-minute walk, if that, from Khao San Road.