Around March of last year we were planning an awesome trip.
We were going to go to Bhutan- a country that measures success in Gross National Happiness! I was exceptionally excited about this trip. I bought the travel guide. I started reading a memoir of a woman’s time in Bhutan. I kept looking at pictures of Paro Taktsang, the Tiger’s Nest monastery. It seemed that it would be so different from other places we had visited. I was really hoping for authentic glimpses of cultural and pristine scenery.
Bhutan takes a little more planning and prep than most trips. You have to book through an authorized travel agency, and the country wasn’t even open to tourists before 1974. We were working with an agency and had planned an itinerary. All we had to do was give the final ok and book flights.
Except. Bhutan is really expensive. With the way we usually travel, we could go to three other places just for the price of this one vacation to Bhutan. We were really torn. We had the money, but should we spend it all on one trip? We only knew one person who had been to Bhutan. He was an American who had left his job to travel the world for a year. We had met him at our cooking school in Chiang Mai, and had kept up with him through Facebook. We appealed to him for help. He asked a simple question. Did we want to visit Nepal someday? Absolutely. Then, save the money for other trips. Nepal and Bhutan are not the same, but similar enough for us to choose one over the other. If there has to be a choice between the two, choose Nepal.
So, we told the agency that we would not be visiting Bhutan. It was still a hard decision to make. It was the first time we had said no to a trip, especially when being so close to finalizing details.
We quickly went the opposite direction for spring break and got SCUBA certified in the Philippines. That turned out a be a wonderful, rewarding vacation. I have no regrets about going to the Philippines, but I still wonder about the trip that almost was!