August 17, 2012

100 Wonders of the World

Get ready for an overload of gorgeous. This is a picture-heavy post, but it's getting me SO amped up for our trip!

Several years ago, our awesome and travel-loving friends, Kristy and Dave, gave us one of the most awesome gifts ever when we moved into a new apartment. They gave us this book of 100 Wonders of the World and a personalized stamp that says "Tom & Stephanie Were Here" and a change-able date. So now, when we visit any of the places in the book, we can stamp it with the date that we visited. Awesome, right? It's one of my most favorite gifts ever.

When they first gave it to us, we flipped through to see what places we'd already been to. Tom had been to several of them but, sadly for me, I'd only been to 1 or 2 places. This past week, we flipped through the book an HOLY MOLY - We have the opportunity to visit a ton of these wonders on the trip. We won't be able to take the book and stamp with us, but we're going to keep track of the dates so we can update the book when we get home.

First up, the wonders (from this book) of North America that are part of our roadtrip! (Excluding the Golden Gate Bridge because, well, we live here.)

Yosemite National Park: Can you believe I've lived in SF for 8 years and I've never been to Yosemite? That's ridiculous. Yosemite is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Death Valley National Park: The landscape of Death Valley is so stark and awe-inspiring. We're not sure if we'll hit up Death Valley or not. It's either that or Joshua Tree National Park. It will probably be an impulse decision.
Salt Flats in Death Valley National Park

Grand Canyon National Park: I've never been to the Grand Canyon and I'm so excited that we'll be camping on the South Rim of the park for 2 or 3 nights. Hopefully, our friends, Michelle and Paul, will come up to join us for a night. The Grand Canyon is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Grand Canyon

Empire State Building & Statue of Liberty: We've both been to the Empire State Building, but it will be fun to see it together during our time in NYC. We've both also seen the Statue of Liberty, but I don't think either of us have ever toured it. Not sure we'll ever get around to doing that, but we can still admire it from afar. The Statue of Liberty is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Side note: We were just invited to the opera with Tom's Dad while we're there. I love the opera and I've never been to the Met. So excited!)

Guggenheim Museum: I'd really love to visit the Guggenheim for the first time while we're in NYC. I think I can talk my friend, Carrie, into visiting with us!

The Guggenheim Museum, NYC

And once we're in Asia, there are TONS of Wonders to visit!

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, India: The Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 and is supposed to resemble the crown of Krishna. It has 953 small windows, which is what makes it look like lace, that were intended to give the royal ladies the privacy to walk around the property without covering their faces. You're supposed to see the Hawa Mahal at sunrise. Isn't it stunning?
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, India

Taj Mahal in Agra, India: Almost everyone recognizes the Taj Mahal and I can't wait to see it in all its glory. It was completed in 1653 by Shah Jahan in memory of his 3rd wife. It's made of white marble. We hear that Agra (where the Taj Mahal is located) is actually not a great town to visit, so it will probably be a quick day trip just for the Taj. The Taj Mahal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Taj Mahal in Agra, India

And the sites continue in Southeast Asia!

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia: Cambodia is the country I've had the longest-running interest in. Long story made short: my high school boyfriend is Cambodian and I absolutely adored his family (and still do). So I'm thrilled to visit Cambodia. Tom has been already and it's so exciting to share it together this time. Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple in the world and was built in the 12th century. It's now a Buddhist temple and is the most famous site in Cambodia. Angkor Wat is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Angkor Wat at sunset

Ayutthaya Kingdom in Thailand: The Ayutthaya Kingdom was a Siamese Kingdom from 1350 through 1767 before it crumbled after conflicts with the Burmese. The ruins at Ayutthaya are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ruins in Ayutthaya, Thailand

Bagan in Burma: Oh WOW! This place is amazing. Tom has visited and he loved it and it's one of those places that I just can't wait to visit. Bagan is an ancient city in Burma with over 2200 temples remaining. At one time, there were over 10,000 temples in this city!!! A lot of people hot air balloon over Bagan which looks amazing - but that might be a bit out of our price range. Isn't it stunning?
Hot air balloon over Bagan, Burma

Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines: Tom and I were in complete awe over the rice terraces in Indonesia on our honeymoon, and the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines are supposed to be some of the most amazing terraces in the world. It's easy to forget that these sites aren't just beautiful tourist sites, they're operating farms! The Banaue Rice Terraces aren't a UNESCO site, but the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are.
Banaue Rice Terraces of the Philippines

The Temple of Borobudur in Indonesia is a Buddhist monument from the 9th Century and is in Java, Indonesia. Borobudur is still a mystery to the world in many ways because it was abandoned for unknown reasons and then rediscovered by the British in 1842. We're not sure if we'll visit Java or not, but this amazing temple could tempt us further. The Borobudur Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Temple of Borobudur in Java, Indonesia

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam: Holy mystical amazing-ness. Vietnam gets me SUPER excited! I can't wait to visit. And Ha Long Bay looks like somewhere from another world. Unlike most of the Wonders in Asia from the book that we'll visit, Ha Long Bay is a natural wonder. Appropriately, Ha Long Bay translates to "descending dragon bay." Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason.
Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: These 88-floor, 451.9 meter buildings were the tallest in the world until 2004 when the Taipei 101 surpassed it. I think we HAVE to check out this building, but I'm not sure I'll be able to convince Tom to walk across the SkyBridge, a 2-story foot bridge that connects the towers on the 42nd and 43rd floors. Yikes!
Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lastly, we'll be hitting up Australia and maybe New Zealand and there are a few more sites there that will warrant stamps in our book!

Great Barrier Reef in Australia: We are certified SCUBA divers and we both love it. I, especially, adore it. I even have dreams about it sometimes. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. Our good friends (and parents to our godson, Mitch), are both divers living in Brisbane. So I'm hoping we can dive together. Obviously, the Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
So gorgeous!

Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia: The Sydney Opera House is an architectural treasure, designed by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sydney Opera House, Australia

Uluru in Northern Territory, Australia: Most people know Uluru for Ayers Rock, which is a sacred site to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. Tom's been here before and loved it. I'm not sure if we'll get all the way inland to visit it, but we'd love to. Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ayers Rock in Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, Australia

Milford Sound, New Zealand: Milford Sound is the most famous tourist destination in New Zealand. Tom's been here and he's talked about it a lot. I'd love to visit if we're able to make our way to New Zealand.
Milford Sound, New Zealand

Tongariro National Park, New Zealand: Tongariro was established in 1887 and was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. It's an important part of the Maori cultural and has spiritual associations and amazing volcanic features. (Tom's also been here.) Tongariro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Emerald Lakes in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Thanks Kristy and Dave for this awesome gift! We hope you'll join us on the road for a few of the Wonders!


  1. I am so excited you're going to stamp all these places! We will definitely be with you for at least one (hopefully more). I love that you love the book! We judge our vcations now on getting to stamp the book. I just don't know if we'll get all 100. I think the International Space Station will be easier than Mecca.

    1. We really do love this gift. And I TOTALLY want to visit Mecca some day! But, if you're not up for a trip to the actual Mecca, you can always visit MY Mecca, which is the shoe department at Nordstrom.

  2. Thanks for posting this great list, now that we are traveling it's easy to forget what to look forward to. Can't wait to follow y'all!

    1. I know! With all the planning, I had lost a bit of the excitement because we've been planning for SO long. But going through this list got me excited again! Loved reading about your hike in Huascaran National Park!