The original seven wonders of the world are The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. They’re all in the Mediterranean as they were originally recorded by the Greeks in the years 1-2BC. They’re almost all destroyed (mostly by earthquakes) and there’s speculation that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon never actually existed. (Though I just have a weird feeling it did). The only one left standing today is the pyramid of Giza, which I would love to see but have a mental battle with myself about the way women are treated in Egypt and also the fact that I hear there is a McDonalds right outside. Anyone been? Anyone want to weigh in??
Here they are!
A fair few people have tried to rewrite the seven wonders of the world, with worthy places being included and discarded and shortlisted constantly though there was a large scale and unscientific attempt to do it ‘properly’ in 2007.
And then in 2016, USA Today published an embarrassingly goddawful ‘modern wonders of the world’ list which with an incidental slap in the face of the world, included the polar icecaps which we as humans are destroying and the Old City of Jerusalem which some of us are destroying alongside natural wonders like the Serengeti migration and the Grand Canyon, and then… the internet (from which I can only conclude that they really liked cats and porn.) I’m mostly joking- I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today without the internet but I can’t lump the thing that brought us “fake news” and Nyan Cat in with 1.5 million wildebeest spreading really really quickly.
I’ve recently noticed places embracing their dubious sort of fame by being included on the “worst of” lists- like this restaurant where the staff are rude. And this goddawful hostel in Amsterdam. And who can forget notoriously dire film ‘The Room’s cult status…? “Oh hi Mark”.
Thousands of people can show you the delights of a spa break and five-star, but far fewer will hide in the shrubbery and sneak onto the roof for you so as a constantly-travelling rough-sleeping woman who definitely does not blog for the luxury market, here’s my jump onto the bandwagon:
The “Seven Dubious Wonders of the World”.
1) Duct tape.
Fixes all manner of things. The usual joke goes that if it moves and it shouldn’t, use duct tape. If it should move and doesn’t, use WD40. Only duct tape is included because you can’t make a botch-job plaster for your blisters with loo roll and WD40. You can’t stick things in your travel journal with WD40, and you certainly can’t waterproof a useless tent with bin bags and WD40. Duct tape should come on all of your travels, especially the ones that don’t involve flying first class.
Oh yeah, and… 😛
2) All night airport coffee shops
Speaking of flying… If you’re cheap like me and see absolutely no point on forking out £67 for an airport hotel when you need to be at check-in at 4am, the departures lounge is the best place to spend the night. If the reclining seats are already taken and there isn’t a soft-looking bit of floor, you might as well stay up all night and get a really really early one when you arrive at your destination. Airport coffee shops rock and the seats are comfier than the nasty metal ones you’ll be stuck in otherwise.
Stansted Airport at “screw you o’clock”
3) Feminine wipes.
They don’t have to be feminine. They could be masculine wipes- in steel grey and black packaging with a scent like “cold mountain sledgehammer” but Superdrug don’t seem to stock masculine wipes so…
Spilled your milk-based drink all over yourself? No problem. Sweaty and gross but sanitising wipes make you smell like a hospital? Worry not. No loo roll? It’s all good. Unexpectedly getting lucky at that kind of festival? Congratulations- you’re ready.
4) Drunk, feminist kickass women
This one is for women (obviously!)- I saw a meme in which somebody else had clearly noticed the same thing as me; there’s a special kind of drunk woman. She’s not so drunk she’s ill and needs help- she’s the kind of drunk that makes sitting in the toilet of a club, talking about sisterhood with other women the most appealing and fun thing to do on the planet. This is the most supportive friend you could have even when she’s a total stranger.
Not over your cheating dick of an ex? She’ll think of myriad cruel and unusual punishments. Want to share personal philosophies that only make sense at 3am? She’s the one to do it with. This particular kind of drunk woman will take the time to give an honest opinion about which potential outfit says “job interview” best and give you a tampon if you need one.
I detest “the tall poppy syndrome” syndrome; the desire to cut you down to size if you stand out too much and I especially hate that this way of thinking is considered ‘normal’ for women in todays society. We are constantly pitted against each other and this isn’t a war so lets be more like drunk feminist kickass women!
Tall poppies help each other grow! Photo by Amy Colwell at the Grasmere Guzzler
I know I just said how much I hate that the internet has been hailed as a wonder of the modern world BUT… it is has saved my neck. So much so that I have an article in a travel magazine about exactly why knowing the WiFi code kept me safe and sane when I was trapped in what could have been a very dangerous situation. (Which if it got as bad as its potential, it could have saved my life.)
It’s on the ‘dubious’ list because I still feel slightly dirty putting it in. While I can’t bear people who spend every social interaction with their eyes glued to a screen and miss the sunset because they’re too busy trying to take a selfie with it, I can’t deny that WiFi has its uses- many of them.
6) Plastic bottles
They clog up the ocean, trap small creatures on land and are full of harmful chemicals, but if you’re in a country with unsafe drinking water, bottled water is generally your best bet. If you’re travelling through swampy ground, in a flood or over water with something you need to keep dry, you can be pretty sure that sealing your stuff in a plastic bottle will keep it from becoming pulp. If you’re really out of options for food storage and you’re likely to go hungry, store muesli with plenty of dried fruit, seeds and nuts in a plastic water bottle. And getting to the ridiculous- if you have enough of them, you can build a credible raft.
Please, please recycle your plastic. (Not just bottles). Don’t leave bottles without lids lying around as they can trap creatures, and try to be economical when using them. Kthnxbye. 😛
Would somebody like to get me this water bottle please?
7) Banana cosies
I was going to say bananas, but bananas are fragile, prone to squishing and therefore being absolutely vile by the end of a fifteen minute tube journey and they divide public opinion over the perfect ripeness. But… as they’re the perfect snack for travelling (full of potassium, full of vitamins, filling, with non-stodgy carbs and are one of your five-a-day) they’re annoyingly brilliant. A few years ago, my mum gave me the most ‘mum’ gift: a banana cosy. And despite the embarrassment caused by admitting that I am a person who owns a banana cosy, they have stopped me throwing out so many destroyed bananas. They’re also a great place to hide valuables- drop your bag all over the floor or get forced to hand over your wallet? That sucks but as nobody’s going to want your banana cosy… or it’s assumed contents, hopefully whatever’s in there should be safe. At the very least you have an unsquished banana to eat in the police station waiting room.
As for the eighth? Everybody thinks they have one. What’s your eighth dubious wonder of the world? 😉