Much of my travel is for business, but my next trip is strictly for fun. A great friend of mine has a sabbatical from work this summer, and we planned a trip. No sabbatical for me, but plenty of vacation time to use. I’ll miss my family, with extended time away from home, but this should be a trip to remember. We’re visiting Bhutan and Nepal for a few weeks this month.
Two new countries, Bhutan and Nepal
I’ve talked about my country counting, and while I do try to visit new places, adding to my list isn’t a high priority. That said, as mentioned in my post about travel insurance, this trip will add two new countries to my list. We’ll be in Bhutan for a few days, and then going to Nepal for some trekking in the Annapurna region. Bhutan is a unique place, with high fees that both support and limit tourism, so this may well be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Nepal is another place I’ve been interested in visiting. Known as the gateway to the Himalayas, and while we aren’t climbing mountains, our journey will take us up and over some high elevation.
Getting there via Cathay Pacific First and Business Class
For my outbound trip, I found space in Cathay Pacific First Class. It has been far too long since my last time in the cabin, so this will really be a treat. The return is in Cathay Business Class. Flights to and from Bhutan will be on national carrier Druk Air. One of only 2 carriers that fly into Paro Airport, the international airport in Bhutan, which may be an adventure on its own.
How I paid for the trip
This trip is a combination of award and paid flights. Outbound journey was booked using 115,000 AA miles, (with 10,000 of those returned to me as a now dead perk of my AA Aviator card), plus about $50 in taxes. The return trip is booked using Chase Travel, so used Ultimate Rewards points to purchase the one way ticket from Kathmandu to O’Hare via Hong Kong. Kathmandu is a cheap place for premium travel, at least for this trip, the ticket was ~$1400, so I spent 80,000 UR points, and ~$200. Worried about getting enough EQDs for my AA status this year, this will give a decent bump, with 2405 EQD along with over 14,000 EQM.
Flights to/from Bhutan are on Druk Air. There are only 2 airlines that fly into Paro, and due to a cancellation, both inbound and outbound are on the Bhutanese national carrier. With no competition, these flights have fixed prices, and they are not cheap. From Delhi-Paro-Kathmandu, the price is $575/person. Yes, that is for economy. Yikes. Hopefully I at least get a window seat to view the Himalayas on both flights.
I sit here in the British Airways First Class Lounge at O’Hare Terminal 5 ready to depart. This is hardly a first class lounge, but it beats the madness of Terminal 5, or the other lounge options here. I expect to talk a lot about this trip in future posts, but for now I’m looking forward to a long flight in Cathay comfort, and then some adventures. Safe travels!