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'I drunk-booked a Brazil trip then took on the world'

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Jamie Ather

What do you do when you wake up from a drunken night out and discover you are the proud owner of a ticket to Brazil?

In Lanarkshire man Jamie Ather’s case, you have a big glass of water then pack your suitcase because you decide to go anyway.

The 27-year-old from East Kilbride turned a drunken blunder into a life-changing experience.

He kept on going and went on to visit the seven wonders of the world in just three years.

After a Saturday night out with friends in 2015, Jamie’s morning-after turned epic when he realised he had spent more than £500 on a flight to Brazil.

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Jamie Ather

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Redeeming feature: Jamie and his first wonder Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Stephen Jardine Programme: “That turned out to be one bad Sunday.

“On the Monday I tried to call the airline and cancel the flights because I had no intention of going to Brazil.

“I phoned the airline and it was past the cancellation period.”

Friends and family told him to cut his losses and forget the trip, that it was dangerous to go to South America on his own.

But Jamie had different ideas.

“I thought everything happens for a reason. So I built the trip up and booked flights to Peru and Argentina and created a South America trip.”

Jamie genuinely can’t remember buying the tickets.

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Jamie Ather

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At the Coliseum in Rome

“I was out with my friends and I think we were talking about travelling. I must have come home and gone online.

“To this day I don’t fully remember. I got up and my ‘verified by visa’ was blocked on one card so I must have been quite determined.”

Jamie had been abroad but never on his own. But he went on the trip and loved it.

One year later Jamie was in Rome with friends, on a tour at the Coliseum.

He explained: “They kept mentioning the wonders of the world. I went back to the apartment and looked them up.

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Jamie Ather

“I found I had seen Machu Picchu in Peru and Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio and realised the Coliseum was my third one.”

Jamie then set himself a goal of completing all seven before he turned 30.

Last year he visited the Taj Mahal and then went on to China to do the Great Wall.

He completed his task in late September when he made it to Jordan to see the ancient city of Petra.

What are the new seven wonders of the world?

The Great Pyramid of Giza has honorary status as the last remaining original wonder of the world. This was built in 2560 BCE.

A campaign to create a list of new wonders was completed in 2007. Those chosen were:

Great Wall of China, constructed in 700 BCE

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Jamie Ather

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Checking out the Great Wall of China

The ancient city of Petra, Jordan, 312 BCE

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy, 80 CE

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Jamie Ather

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Jamie at Machu Picchu

Chichen Itza, Yucatán, Mexico, 600 CE

Machu Picchu, Cuzco Region, Peru, 1450 CE

Taj Mahal, Agra, India, 1643 CE

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1931 CE

Jamie says his final wonder was special.

“That was my favourite,” he said. “But I might have had an emotional attachment because it was the last.

“I started crying when I saw the entrance to Petra. It was amazing.”

He also kept the trip a secret. His family had warned him against going there due to current Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice which suggests a high risk of terror attacks.

Jamie booked his ticket and then messaged them en route.

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Jamie ather

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In September Jamie visited his last wonder – the ancient city of Petra in Jordan

He said: “They said it was a no-go zone so I just booked my flights and texted them from Heathrow Airport and said I was flying to Amman but don’t worry about me.

“When I got back my mum picked me up from Glasgow Airport, hugged and kissed me then turned me round and kicked my bum.”

Jamie rounded off his trip by flying from Jordan to Cairo where he saw the last of the old wonders of the world, the Pyramid at Giza.

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Jamie Ather

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Chichen Itza in Mexico

He says his seven wonders mission has changed him forever.

From a drunken plane ticket, he says he has become a different man.

He explained; “I had to save my own money. I fly as cheaply as possible then I stay in hostels and that forces me to go and meet new people. I have built up my confidence.

“Before that drunken purchase I would probably never have thought of going to the other side of the world solo.”

Now people who have heard his story contact him to tell them they’ve booked trips and asking him for advice.

But now that he has completed his challenge, he won’t stop there.

Through his travels, Jamie has visited six out of seven continents.

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Jamie Ather

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Jamie visited an old wonder to complete his collection

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Jamie Ather

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In China Jamie found time to make friends with the local wildlife

Now he has his eye on one more.

“The only one I haven’t done is Antarctica.

I’ve looked into it and you can go from the tip of South Africa, down, so…”

And he encouraged everyone to follow their travel dreams.

“If you don’t plan there is a chance it might not happen and life gets in the way. You need a plan and you need to commit.

“If I had listened to everyone about Brazil I wouldn’t have left and had the chance to change my life.”

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