New 7 Wonders of the World: Done and Dusted

I’ve always wanted to visit all of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

And by always, I mean since they got voted in and kind of came into existence under that name back in 2007.

Up until about two weeks ago, I’d successfully managed to cross 6 out of the 7 off of my imaginary list. Which, for a ‘quest’ that only officially started five years ago (as soon as I got my first grown up passport I was off!), ain’t too shabby!

The Great Wall was the final destination.

And I did it!

In true Ash Ketchum style, I CAUGHT THEM ALL! And I genuinely could not be happier about it.

You know the phrase “I could die happy”? Well, I’m not going to say that because it’s too damn morbid. I’ll stick to retire.

I could retire from life.

I could shred my passport and throw my backpack into the Indian Ocean. Except I won’t, because then I’d be stranded and arrested for overstaying my visa.

I could buy a piece of land in the middle of nowhere, build a hut and grow my own cabbages and be happy there for the rest of my life.

Frankly, none of the above would prove true in practice.

But I am SO freaking happy, I can’t say or emphasise it enough.

I spent the whole bus home from the Wall compiling messages to send to the friends I don’t talk to as much anymore, telling them that I still love them and all the reasons why. I was so happy that I skipped off the bus without paying. I gave all the change in my pocket to a blind man playing the flute. I told my stepfather that I was going to take up bird-watching as a hobby. I wrote a very excited Facebook status and got repeatedly congratulated for what is, essentially, just going on  a lot of holidays.

Cheesy and cliché as it sounds, I woke up the next day feeling like a new person. A very sleepy new person as it was 2am and I was due to catch a flight at 5:20am, but a new person nonetheless.

Because sure, there are a ton of things I want to do in my life. But this was The One. This was the Big Show, the crème de la crème, the thing that I would lord over all the other old ladies at the Retirement Home. And as it turns out, I can lord it over them a lot sooner than anticipated.

I don’t often post photos of myself on the blog – at least not of my face, though I do have a penchant for showing the back of my head – so please do excuse the sudden overload of me, as well as the slight bragging tone to this post, but I freaking did it!

MACHU PICCHU – July 2011

Machu Picchu

Fresh off the boat, so to speak, and on my first solo trip.
See that mountain behind me? That’s Huayna Picchu. Only 400 people could climb it per day back then, and it was on a first come first serve basis, meaning that I woke up at 2am to make sure I was one of the very first to arrive at the gates of Machu Picchu to get one of those all-important entry stamps. I was person number 187. The climb is absolutely nuts; easily the most reckless, irresponsible and dangerous thing I’ve ever done! Just search for a video on YouTube, you’ll see! It took 3 hours, all of my energy and a lot of balance to get up and back down, and so in my exhausted state I didn’t realise until I was almost at the exit of the citadel that I hadn’t actually had the Machu Picchu photo. You know the one. I couldn’t find the spot, but this was close enough. So yeah, Huayna Picchu is the reason for my crazy hair, forced smile and awkward perch on the rock (my legs ached way too much to sit down properly!).
I went back a few months ago – I wrote a brief post about it here – and it was just as breathtakingly amazing then.

TAJ MAHAL- July 2012

Taj Mahal

This was originally supposed to be a volunteer trip to Nepal with my cousin and then-boyfriend, but for their own reasons neither of them were able to come. I went ahead with the volunteering, adding a sneaky little 2 weeks in India on the end of it, something which I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do had either of them tagged along!
There was an incident at the hotel I was staying at in Agra, which resulted in me having a pair of bodyguards with me for the rest of my stay there. I was genuinely forbidden from leaving my hotel room, unless it was to go down to the restaurant for some food, which meant that unfortunately I didn’t get to see as much of Agra as I would have liked. But it also meant that I had on-hand personal photographers and scarecrows warding off the folk who prey on lonely tourists. And I had free pizza.

COLOSSEUM – December 2013

Colose

Living in Italy for half of my Erasmus Year Abroad, Rome was less than a four hour train journey from my flat, so there would have had to have been something seriously wrong with me if I hadn’t made the effort to pop on over for a little mooch around. And you can’t go to Rome without seeing the Colosseum now can ya?
It being Winter, it was cold but not cold enough for snow, and from what I can remember barely even cold enough for earmuffs. Not that I’ve worn earmuffs ever in my adult life, but yeah.
The Colosseum was by far the easiest of the Wonders to access – right in the middle of the city, there’s a Subway station right outside so no excessive walking, and not a single death-defying staircase in sight! Take note, all you other Wonders plonked in the middle of nowhere!!

PETRA – September 2014

Petra Jordan

That’s me in the middle, wearing way too many clothes for a desert. I really need to write a whole post about my day at Petra (and night in a strange man’s cave) because it definitely deserves to have its own shiny star, it was so damn incredible.
From the moment I stepped off of the bus and bought the hat that remained glued to my head for at least the next six months to the next morning when we got persuaded to pay for the previous night’s entertainment – a man who banged a bongo a few times and recited poems we could not understand – which we never really asked for nor particularly enjoyed and waved off by the two guys who, it turned out, had lured us to their cave under the umbrella of a lie, the whole experience was hilariously random.
Had I not ended up stargazing under a blanket of animal fur with an almost-toothless stranger, though, the views and the city of Petra itself would have been enough to keep me happy. More than happy, actually.

CHRIST THE REDEEMER – May 2016

Christ the Redeemer

I found Christ the Redeemer to be the most underwhelming of the Wonders.
Construction began in 1922, making it the youngest of all the Wonders by almost 300 years (Taj Mahal having been commissioned for construction in 1632) leaving you questioning how on earth it fits on the list.
And in comparison to the other 6 that share the Wonder of the World moniker, it’s kind of boring. When you’ve got whole cities constructed in the middle of dense jungle, the most magnificent proclamation of love in the world, and a wall that spans the length of almost a whole country, you kind of just think anyone could build a statue and stick it on a hill.
Still, it’s pretty to look at.

My thoughts on Christ the Redeemer: The Reality of Christ the Redeemer

CHICHEN ITZÁ – August 2016

IMG_8529

Due to time constraints Chichen Itzá was the only one I visited as part of an organised tour. Ordinarily I tend to avoid tours, not because I don’t like them but because I like to do things at my own pace, and my attention span is basically non-existent these days. One of the downsides of working freelance – 20% of your day is spent actually working; the other 80% is flipping between Youtube, Buzzfeed and Bloglovin’, with the occasional hour or two of Netflix thrown into the mix, resulting in your attention span regressing to that of a two-year old.
Anyway, the tour was actually a really good idea. It cost $55 per person but included a load of other little added bonuses as well as entry and explanation of Chichen Itzá, such as an optional dip in one of the local cenotes, visits to some of the indigenous Mayan villages and the all-important buffet lunch. I’ll eventually write a whole post about it, but for now just enjoy this photo of me post-torrential downpour.

GREAT WALL OF CHINA – August 2016

Great Wall of China

One of the things I learnt about China on this trip that I was previously oblivious to is that it’s actually a really hot country during summer. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the hottest I’ve ever been to. Which is why I ended up climbing the Great Wall of China in the least amount of clothes since that Halloween I dressed like a “cat”. And we all know the type of cat I’m talking about: the type that isn’t actually a cat, but merely two strips of cloth barely covering an underage girl’s modesty.
Back to the Great Wall… It. Was. Amazing!
I don’t know whether the fact that it was my grand finale made me enjoy it so much, or the company I had for the day, or the fact that I was basically a celebrity and now feature in about 16 different families’ photos of that day, but it was definitely one of the BEST days I’ve had since leaving the UK back in March.

Read more about my visit to the Great Wall: How to Get to Mutianyu Great Wall Without a Tour

Now I’m all done I need something new to focus all my attention and money on for the next five years. Any ideas?

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21 Comments

  1. 9th September 2016 / 6:31 pm

    Even though you’ve described it as “going on a lot of holidays”, they’re well-chosen ones! An impressive feat, given they’re scattered all over the globe and most of them are in pretty remote locations. How did you manage to get a photo on the Great Wall without all the selfie-wielding tourists?! Every other photo I’ve seen of it is overflowing with people and just looks like a human migration!

    • 10th September 2016 / 7:38 am

      Thanks! 🙂 I made sure to go to the least touristy of the most tourist-friendly sections (if that makes sense!) – Mutianyu as opposed to Badaling. Apparently there’s very much the same scenery and structure (obviously, it’s just one big wall) at both areas but Mutianyu is slightly more awkward to get to from Beijing so less people tend to flock there. I saw pictures from the other part on the same day and it was crazy!!

      • 10th September 2016 / 7:46 am

        That’s a cunning way to avoid the hordes of tourists which descend on the wall! A friend of a friend did a charity walk along the Great Wall this summer, I can imagine that would be another way of seeing some less touristy sections!

  2. 10th September 2016 / 12:26 pm

    Pretty impressive! I’m missing a few but hope to hit them all at some point (I feel like I’ve actually done the harder ones!) Going slightly off track, I did the Huayna Picchu hike and thought I’d pitch off the side of that thing! (“Why Huayna Picchu?” is the post if you want to re-live your trauma 🙂 Haha) Anyway, congrats on your accomplishment!

    • 11th September 2016 / 11:17 am

      You should definitely try and get to them all! It’s gonna be my “interesting fact” at job interviews for years to come. Ooh, I’ll hop over and take a look now! When I did the Machu Picchu Mountain this time around my friend said how difficult it was and how I should be proud of myself, but he’s never stepped foot on Huayna Picchu so he hardly knows the meaning of the word difficult 😉 Thank you!

  3. 10th September 2016 / 6:00 pm

    I loved reading your post from all way start to end! It for sure a super great achievement! I can only imagine the feeling. 🙂 nice pics! …which next ventures are on your mind now ?

    • 11th September 2016 / 11:19 am

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it 😀 A bit of a selfish “look at all these pictures of me” kind of post but for a damn good reason 😉 Ah I’m not sure! Kind of feel like a deflated balloon now, nooo idea what to get up to next haha. I’m thinking the biggest of everything – biggest lake, biggest waterfall, biggest mountain, biggest cow, you name it!

      • 12th September 2016 / 9:30 pm

        Just follow your heart, you will know your next adventures… Maybe great expeditions like artic or Antarctic, I always wish to do them once in my lifetime! 🙂

  4. 27th January 2017 / 1:43 pm

    Well done girl! And you are in every picture as evidence that you went! I didn’t like Agra either, so staying in your room you didn’t miss anything. How about for your next project, the 7 natural wonders of the world?

    • rhiydwi
      28th January 2017 / 2:36 pm

      Yep, the only reason I really take pictures is to use as “evidence”! I was actually thinking about making that my next one, seeing as I’ve already got a kind of headstart having been to the Rio Harbour!

  5. 27th January 2017 / 2:33 pm

    Really amazing that you’ve covered all of these new 7 world wonders! 😀 Of all these I’ve only been to Colosseum and I really want to visit Taj Mahal next. By the way, what kind of volunteering job did you do in India?

    • rhiydwi
      28th January 2017 / 2:38 pm

      Thanks Fiona! 😀 It was actually Nepal that I volunteered in 🙂 Teaching English to children and their teachers at a voluntary programme in one of the smaller villages of Chitwan. Definitely worthwhile! If you’re looking for some kind of volunteer work in India though, there’s absolutely loads of opportunities! But if you do plan on it, make sure you do your research first as a lot of them are simply money-making schemes with little to no benefit in the local community.

  6. 27th January 2017 / 2:39 pm

    This is so frigging epic! You are totally allowed to brag! I have done Machu Picchu and it was amazing! Petra has been on my list for a bit as well so who knows! So many places to see!

    • rhiydwi
      28th January 2017 / 2:38 pm

      Oh thanks Stacey! 😀 I’ll be claiming these bragging rights for years to come for sure. Petra is just beautiful, I really hope you’re able to get around to experiencing it!

  7. 28th January 2017 / 12:04 am

    I still have Petra & Taj Mahal to visit to get all 7. I love Machu Picchu and have just completed my 4th visit!!! Hopefully I can get to the Taj Mahal this year and maybe Petra next year 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      28th January 2017 / 2:39 pm

      Machu Picchu definitely has a special place as the first of the lot – and it’s so magnificent in itself that nothing can compare! Oooh, fingers crossed for you!

  8. 28th January 2017 / 1:39 am

    Wow these places are truly wonders of the world. Thanks for sharing your amazing journeys. They’re both awesome and inspiring.

    • rhiydwi
      28th January 2017 / 2:40 pm

      Thanks guys 🙂

  9. 28th January 2017 / 11:38 pm

    Love that you achieved your goal! And awesome that you have visited all these incredible places! I can understand how Christ the Redeemer could be a bit underwhelming (we did that one first so had nothing to compare it to!) and I’m in the middle of planning my Jordan trip to get to Petra and Wadi Rum which I cannot be more excited about, but I’ll keep in mind to avoid caves with men playing the bongo and reciting poetry!

  10. 28th January 2017 / 11:39 pm

    Very well done! It’s amazing you actually saw all of them! Isn’t it great when you get to tick off all the things you wanted to see? From this list I would love to do the hike you described in Machu Picchu. Strenuous climbing and wobbly legs? What can I say, I am just a big hiking fan. It’s a shame Christ The Redeemer wasn’t as impressive as expected and well done on 6 months in Italy! I was in Greece for three months with Erasmus doing an internship and it was very tough. All worth it in the end though!

  11. 2nd February 2017 / 9:22 pm

    Wow congratulations. I’ve only been to the Colosseum but I’m definitely dying to go to Petra. Sorry to hear you had trouble in Agra but at least you were able to see the Taj Mahal while you were in India!

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