Travel

Visiting Petra

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After a quick breakfast at the Marriott we jumped in the car and headed to Wadi Musa. The drive only took ~10 minutes, and we didn’t have any issue finding street parking across from the Movenpick.

To give you a sense of how the town and the historical site are oriented, here’s a picture taken from a hill above Petra, which I’ve added labels to.

It’s about 2 kilometers from the Petra Visitor’s Center to the Treasury, to give you a sense of the distances. The Treasury itself is only about halfway down the main road into Petra — you’ll go another 2 kilometers to the end of the main road where you can see some of the other key sites.

You’re looking at a minimum of 5 miles of walking if you stay on the main road and don’t explore any of the side trails, so keep that in mind when choosing your footwear!

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Mystery: Why Is My Korean Air Flight So Long?

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I’m flying from Seoul Incheon to Kathmandu today. I had mapped out the flight when I first booked this, and noted that it covered a distance of 2,469 miles.

When flying a route for the first time, I typically compare it to a route I take more frequently in terms of length. I thought to myself that the flight was just a few miles shorter than New York to Los Angeles. Since this was a westbound flight, I figured the flight would be maybe 5hr30min in the air. U.S. carriers typically schedule New York to Los Angeles flights at around 6hr30min gate-to-gate, and that includes generous padding, plus plenty of time for dealing with two congested airports.

Ford asked me how long the flight was, so I said “maybe five and a half hours, or so.” I knew what time we were scheduled to depart and arrive, though with timezone differences hadn’t investigated the actual flight time.

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Korean Air 747-8 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from Incheon! I just flew Korean Air’s 747-8 business class for the first time ever. I’ve flown Korean Air’s first class product several times before, including on the A380, 777, and 747-8, and have always enjoyed my experience on them, so I was curious to see how their business class product compared.

Korean Air has Apex Suites in business class on the 747-8. I’ve flown the Apex Suite on Japan Airlines and Oman Air, and the window seats in this configuration are the best business class hard product out there, in my opinion.

Well, I’d say Korean Air’s upper deck window seats on the 747-8 are the best Apex Suites out there, and by extension, the single best business class hard product in the world. Not only does the upper deck feel private, but there are huge storage bins along the side of the cabin, which make the seat feel even more spacious. I genuinely think the hard product is the best in the world.

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Review: Petra Marriott Hotel

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After a full day in Wadi Rum we headed north to the town of Wadi Musa, where Petra is located.

It was an easy drive along highways we’d traversed the day prior (how was it only a day?!), so even with a brief maintenance stop it only took ~90 minutes from leaving Wadi Rum to arriving at the Marriott.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I’d booked the Marriott Hotel Petra during the Black Friday sale. We paid $95 + tax for each of our two nights. This is a Category 4 hotel though, so you could also use:

• Anniversary certificates from the credit card
• 20,000 Marriott Rewards points (15,000 on PointSavers)
• 6,667 Starwood Preferred Guest points

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My Big European Summer Travel Goal

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The focus of this blog is the journey rather than the destination, so for years I haven’t really had the goal of visiting a certain number of countries, or anything. And I still don’t, though I am making an effort to spend more time visiting new places (perhaps largely motivated by my effort to try more unusual airlines).

If I return to a favorite place a dozen times, I’m perfectly happy with that, because overall I’m still getting to visit a lot of new places. I’m sure the peanut gallery will be by shortly to tell me that I don’t really travel, that when I visit somewhere it shouldn’t count, etc… and that’s fine. 😉

I’m not sure how realistic it is, but I’m starting to plot out a summer “road trip” of sorts. I say “road trip” because for once, a trip won’t involve flying 10,000 miles from destination to destination.

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The Sharah Mountains & Little Petra

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This will be a shorter post (“Thank goodness!” I can hear you saying, “We just read 3,000 words about a freezing cave masquerading as a hotel.”), but I wanted to highlight another of the drives we took in Jordan, and the site of “Little Petra,” which is less-visited than the larger complex just a few miles away.

As we were packing up to leave Feynan Ecolodge, one of the hosts asked where we were headed. We explained we were going to Wadi Rum, but hadn’t decided which road to take. His eyes lit up as he insisted “You must go via Wadi Namla! It is the most beautiful road in Jordan.”

That seemed like a great endorsement, so with a few more instructions “Google Maps knows the way” and “ignore the ‘road closed’ sign” we jumped in the car.

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How Do I Stay Productive On The Road?

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Reader Nick asked the following question in the Ask Lucky forum:

“Love the blog! I’m just wondering, do you always need an internet connection to add content to your blog? For instance I remember in one of your posts, you were on the aircraft that didn’t have wifi and then again in the uber (obviously didn’t have wifi there), so how do you get your content out so quickly and efficiently?

Is it just a simple case of writing in pages and then cutting and pasting one you’re in wifi range? What about adding pictures? Same thing?”

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The DHS Has Reviewed My “SSSS” Case…

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As I first wrote about a bit over a month ago, I seem to be on some sort of a U.S. government watchlist. I belong to the TSA Trusted Traveler program, and am typically eligible for Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check.

However, for all of January and much of February, I had an “SSSS” on all my boarding passes when I’d fly, signaling that I was being subjected to additional screening. While in the past I’ve gotten secondary screening occasionally, I’ve never had it on back to back trips, let alone on about a dozen flights in a row. See this post for details on what this additional screening entails.

Fortunately there’s an appeals process. It’s not all that transparent (understandably), but at least there’s a process you can go through to try and clear your name. It’s called the DHS TRIP program, which stands for Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. In theory this should allow you to get a Redress number, which you can add to your reservation so that you’re not constantly subjected to additional screening.

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US Citizens May Soon Need Visas To Visit The EU

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The concept of reciprocity seems to be quite common when it comes to countries’ visa policies. While I get the idea behind it, sometimes it seems a bit self destructive to me, given that visa requirements can have a big impact on tourism, etc.

Well, if the European Parliament has their way, American citizens will have to apply for visas before visiting any European Union country this summer. That’s because the U.S. doesn’t allow citizens of Cyprus, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania, to visit the US under the visa waiver program. Due to this unequal treatment of EU citizens, the European Parliament is urging similar restrictions against US citizens. Per Reuters:

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Philippine Airlines 777 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from Vancouver! I just flew Philippine Airlines business class on their rather unusual route between New York and Vancouver. They launched this route in 2015, and I’ve been intrigued by it ever since. Cathay Pacific also operates a flight between New York and Vancouver (and from there the airlines continue to their respective hubs), so it’s probably North America’s most interesting fifth freedom market.

Philippine Airlines has attractive business class fares on this sector — they’re about $440 one-way, or about $750 roundtrip, which is pretty great for a longhaul business class product on a transcon flight.

While I’ll have a full trip report soon, I wanted to share my initial impressions in the form of a typical “10 pictures” post.

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Egypt Postpones Their 140% Tourist Visa Fee Hike

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As I wrote about a couple of days ago, Egypt was planning on raising the cost of tourist visas on arrival from $25 to $60 as of March 1, 2017. That’s a 140% price hike, which is substantial, especially for a country that is trying to rapidly grow their number of visitors after a rough several years.

Well, Egypt has decided to postpone their visa on arrival fee hike until July 1, 2017, per the country’s prime minister. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s postponed beyond that.

This is the second time in a couple of years that Egypt has backtracked on introducing stricter visa policies. In 2015 Egypt planned on discontinuing visas on arrival for tourists, though they quickly postponed that, realizing the impact it would have on tourism.

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Driving The King’s Highway In Jordan

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There are three near-parallel highways running North > South in the central part of Jordan. The most-traveled skirts the shore of the Dead Sea, while the Desert Highway runs to the East. Either would take you from Amman to Aqaba (on the Red Sea), in about four hours of easy driving. Between these two highways lies the old “King’s Highway,” an ancient roadway that winds through mountain towns and around tiny villages.

If you have the time, this is the road to take.

We were starting our day in Madaba, not in Amman (and I recommend you do the same, or at least start at the Dead Sea), and would be ending in the Dana Biosphere Reserve. The more direct route along the Dead Sea would have taken about three hours of driving, our more circuitous route took all day, but was full of scenic vistas and ruins.

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I Can’t Believe How I’m Flying From New York To LA…

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In about a week I need to get from New York to Los Angeles. I’m finishing up one trip, and need to position for my next big trip.

Logically I could have just booked a ticket on American in economy and hoped for an upgrade. Then again, upgrades between New York and Los Angeles can be really tough, and I’d like to avoid a 6hr30min flight in economy, if possible.

I suppose I could book one of the way off peak flights. For example, American now has a 10:30PM flight from New York to Los Angeles, arriving at 2AM. I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself if I took that flight, given that I usually get up at 4-5AM, so by the time I got to a hotel and fell asleep, it would be time to wake up. Is it worth taking an inconveniently timed flight in order to get a better shot at an upgrade?

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How I’m Flying To & From Bhutan (I Think?)

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I’m really excited about visiting Bhutan in March. It looks stunning, and there are two new and nice looking Le Meridien properties there. I love the outdoors, so it seems like a beautiful place to enjoy some fresh air and hiking.

As I’ve explained in a previous post, flying into Paro, Bhutan, isn’t easy. It’s one of the most dangerous airports in the world, and only a couple of airlines fly there. In our case, I booked us on Druk Air from Kathmandu to Paro, and then on the return from Paro to Dhaka (these flights tend to sell out in advance given the limited capacity, so that’s the best I could do).

Given that Druk Air doesn’t have any partnerships (at least that I know of), these tickets need to be booked with cash and on a separate reservation from longhaul tickets.

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