Culture / Travel

Thailand, Cambodia & Dubai with Katie Bivins

BY // 07.09.15

For a month this spring, former Grange Hall shopgirl Katie Bivins and her brother, Will Bivins, journeyed across Asia, hitting Thailand, Cambodia and Dubai, and uncovering many picturesque scenes along the way. Read on for Katie’s account of the siblings’ expedition, from treasure hunting at markets to exploring mountains and cruising blue-green waters.

In your suitcase.
As little as possible! I didn’t want to lug a huge bag for five weeks (I think my brother packed more than I did). Beach cover-ups that I could throw a slip under at night and wear as a dress are what I lived in. Jackie Bolin, co-owner of V.O.D., is amazing at the art of packing, and I was good to go after a quick stop by her store. While in Dubai and visiting various sacred areas, I kept a lightweight long-sleeved shirt in my bag that I could wear when needed.

Carry-on must-haves.
My big headphones, a great moisturizer and my huge Stella McCartney scarf that I can wrap up in like a blanket.

Living quarters.
We stayed in a mix of places, including luxe hotels and local small hotels; we even rented a house for a week through Airbnb. We wanted to have as many experiences as possible.

Obvious, but true: Thai food was every bit as amazing as we had hoped. As a general guideline, we found the hole-in-the-wall spots we would not have discovered without recommendations from locals to be the best. One of our favorite spots was called Restaurant #9 ½. We did stumble onto some great Italian food there as well.

The night markets along with the JJ market outside of Bangkok were magical. I was on the hunt for vintage jewelry and unique textiles, while my brother was looking for lasers that can burn through paper and cell-phone jammers — all things that are hard to come by in the States. Many handmade items are flown in from China, which does nothing to help the Thai community, so I only sought out locally crafted goods.

Of course, the beaches are nothing short of magic, and the mountains seem like something lifted from a Lord of the Rings set, but my favorite part of the journey was getting to explore Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples in Cambodia.

Would you go back?
Already planning our return.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Tourism in Cambodia is still relatively new and still feels uniquely authentic, which I fear will fade over time as it becomes more commercialized. If you have the opportunity to travel there, go!

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