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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Discover Java | Fashion Aid Travels

Finally, I'm back with another blog post from the South East Asia trip and this one covers our Java adventures which I have to say were just incredible! Just like Sumatra where we were just before this part of the trip Java is not somewhere everyone would think of going but I couldn't be happier we decided to add it to our route. 

Like you would have seen from the Sumatra video we both got very sick at the end of Lake Toba so getting from there all the way back to Medan airport (we booked a private driver) was not the nicest but hey we survived.....Just about :)

We got a flight from Sumatra (Medan airport) to Java (Jakarta) with Citilink which we booked well in advance. You can do this if you have a well organised route and you know in advance when you want to move on to the next destination which we did. We used to book the majority of our flights and that basically helped in making sure we got the best price available. Sometimes you might find flying a day earlier or a day later in the month could save you a lot of money so being able to see the prices for every day of the month on can be a huge money saver for your trip.

Once we got into Jakarta we got a taxi straight to the train station which was not far away and cost very little! You do need to be careful how much they charge you for a taxi before you get in because most will try chance their arm if they can get away with it.
We had pre-booked our train online with and we found this absolutely perfect! Just to add we did print out every ticket we had before the trip and put them all into a folder. Of course a lot of tickets are available on your phone but in my opinion, your better off to have them printed as a backup just incase.

Once we landed in Bandung train station we organised a car using the app Grab which was an absolute life saver for the entire trip and we must have saved hundreds because of it.
  • I was still very sick once we got to our hotel in Bandung and Martijn was not 100% either so for the two days we stayed in the city and just enjoyed normal life to be honest...we even went to the cinema which was a real treat :)
  • We stayed in the Golden Flower Hotel which was located right in the city and was perfect for what we needed. I can't really review Bandung properly because like I said we were still sick and couldn't really explore.There were lots of touristy things to do outside of the city centre which were in our Lonely Planet book but we had to scrap them.
  • If you do happen to be stopping off in Bandung or like us are there for a day or two we did have such a nice meal in the Hilton Bandung !! We also went to Trans Studio Mall which was very cool and so different to what we had been up to in Sumatra. That is where we got to go to the cinema, have sushi and a look around the shops.

Once we finished up in Bandung we got another train which we had also pre booked with to bring us to Batu Karas. This was 100% a highlight of our trip...we still go on about it!
We first of all got a train from Bandung to Banjar and then from Banjar we got a bus to near the villa and then to top it off we also had to get a scooter/motorbike with our bags to the experience that's for sure but once we arrived at Villa Kanari it was so so worth it!
  • We booked Villa Kinari on and I have to say it was just the perfect example of an Airbnb experience just like you see advertised. We had the most amazing villa, hidden away from the town but overlooking the water and our hosts were just so friendly and helpful from start to finish
  • The reason why we had Batu Karas on our route from the start was to visit the Green Canyon but after finding the villa online and pre booking it months in advance we decided to allocate three nights to Batu Karas and we were so glad we did!
  • Not only did we go to the Green Canyon we also did a lot of driving around the area on our scooter we rented which was a lot of fun and so so beautiful!
  • You will see from the photos I have popped below the villa was surrounded by beautiful rice fields which we had to drive or walk by to get into the town. The villa was a five minute drive on the scooter if even to the town where you had one or two places to eat and a beach which attracts surfers from all over the world.

You will see from my Java video over on the Fashion Aid YouTube channel how beautiful the Green canyon actually was...we loved It! We got directions off our host Joni and rented a scooter for really cheap. 

When we arrived at the canyon we paid for a private little boat like you will see in the picture below and this brought us right through the canyon, at the end our guide let us out to have a swim for around 30 minutes which was amazing. You can also decide to go longer depending on what you want to do.

I would highly recommend adding Batu Karas and the Green Canyon onto your route if you are stopping off in Java on your won't regret it trust me.

On the day before check out we organised a private driver with our Airbnb host Joni to drive us to our next destination which was Yogyakarta, this was so handy as we grouped up with another couple which also brought down the price.
As far as I can remember the drive was around six hours long which was surprisingly ok. The prices vary for private drivers depending on the number of passengers etc. but if you organise a reliable driver with your Airbnb, hostel, hotel etc. you should get a reasonable price for the distance you are looking to take.

We had heard a lot about Yogyakarta especially Martijn as a lot of Dutch people go there so we were both very excited to see what all the hype was about.

  • We checked into the Adhisthana hotel Yogyakarta which we booked with for five nights. The five nights ended up being the perfect amount of time for what we wanted to see and do while we were there. You really don't need five nights if you're stuck for time but we just didn't have to rush.
  • The Adhisthana hotel Yogyakarta was absolutely perfect for our stay in Yogyakarta. We booked a "Superior Pool View" which cost €136.45 for the two of us altogether for 5 nights which is clearly a steal! The hotel catered for solo travellers, couples, families etc. Our room was perfect for us but as you will see in my Java Vlog over on my YouTube channel it was small so do be aware of that. The hotel was designed really minimalistic and was in an excellent location to get to pretty much everything we wanted to see.

To get to both Borobudur and Prambanan Temple we rented a scooter a five minute walk from the hotel and drove to both which was perfect for us. I'm not going to lie the roads aren't exactly the quietest but Martijn drove the entire way and managed it not a problem. You can go by tour bus but we found the scooter the best no matter where we were in Indonesia unless of course it was a longer drive and then we opted for a private driver.

Prambanan Temple was the first of the temples we visited and I have to say this was absolutely incredible. Like I said we rented a scooter and drove ourselves which suited us perfectly and was definitely an experience. The grounds were just breathtaking and 100% worth paying a visit to. It was $15 US Dollars which is a little over 200,000 RP for a student ticket which was worth it but definitely a lot more than we expected.

We also made sure we got to Borobudur Temple while staying in Yogyakarta and this too was the definition of picture perfect. The scooter ride was a little over an hour which sounds like a lot on a scooter but was so worth it. 

We decided against going for sunrise for a number of reasons one being the price and also the fact we wanted to drive ourselves and let's be real the roads were daunting enough as it was in daylight. Sunrise at Borobudur is suppose to be absolutely incredible so don't let me put you off the idea, however, do make sure you pick a day where the forecast is clear and beware of the price difference.

Before making our way to Yogyakarta we hadn't really had "proper" food in almost one month or at least food we would typically have at home in Europe so when we came across Move On we were in absolute heaven. The restaurant/café had both fab breaky and lunch and wasn't too expensive for what you got. It was definitely more upmarket to what you would typically eat in Indonesia but your wallet didn't suffer too much ;)

Yam Yam restaurant was another spot I absolutely loved in Yogyakarta which was more of a dinner spot. If you do want to check it out I would advise you to go for an early dinner or book it in advance as it seems to be a very popular spot with tourists.

Finally, Tempo Del Gelato was a spot I was so impressed with on our stay in Yogyakarta and one you have to check out if you happen to be anywhere near. You can choose from a huge range of homemade ice creams and from what we tried they were all delicious.

I honestly had no idea what to expect from our Java trip but I couldn't have been more impressed! Do keep in mind we were both recovering from being very sick when we landed in Bandung so we didn't get to give it a chance like most people visiting the area.
We did see in our Lonely Planet book there was a number of cool attractions, restaurants etc. to see but they were mainly outside of Bandung city.

I really hope this has been some help for any of you guys paying a trip to Java anytime soon or just looking for some travel inspo.

Éadaoin xoxo

Friday, 5 January 2018


Happy New Year everyone! I have to say I was so excited to ring in a New Year not that 2017 wasn't great but you know that feeling where you are just so ready for the next chapter that was most definitely me at the end of December. This NYE was a very special one spent in Disney Land Paris!!! I have to say we were both like two kids on the lead up and Disney most definitely did not disappoint! 

Many of you may already know my Mum lives in France so after spending a couple of days there we took a speed train to Marne-la-Vallée which is the train station situated right at the gates of Disney. We booked both the Disney New Years Eve party and a full day in the Disney park for New Years Day to make the most out of the trip and we were so happy we did.

So once we arrived at Marne-la-Vallée we were kindly picked up by our Airbnb host Alexandrine and her son who spoke excellent english and honestly couldn't have been more helpful throughout our stay. 

Our Airbnb was absolutely spotless and was also located in such a nice area with amazing restaurants, a well known bakery, The Val d'Europe shopping center which has over 200 stores and the well known Vallée Outlet Shopping Village. 
Another thing which we were so happy with was the free shuttle bus to Disney which was located right outside our Airbnb and if you didn't want to take that Disney was a short 15/20 minute walk which we actually did twice just to see the area. 

I know its almost a year away and it is probably the last thing on your mind but if and when you are planning a trip for next NYE I couldn't recommend the Disney land Paris NYE Party enough. I am not sure when exactly the tickets go on sale but I purchased ours back in October and know they did sell out well before the event over on
They were €49 each which ended up being excellent value. We had no idea but we actually had access to all the rides all night in the Disney park with small queues, parades, the famous New Year firework show at midnight etc.

On New Years Day we checked out of our room and had the option to leave our luggage in the baggage room which was absolutely perfect! The Airbnb is located in a block of accommodation which almost feels like a hotel as you have a reception desk, assistance with information regarding hotels, timetables etc, access to the swimming pool etc.
If you want you can also bring your luggage to the train station right beside Disney and pay to leave them there it just depends on what is most convenient for you.

We pre booked tickets for the Disney Land park for January 1st like I said above so once we checked out we got the shuttle bus to Disney for the day.
If you were staying in Paris for a couple of days and just want to experience Disney for a day you can book a return train ticket to Marne-la-Vallée which couldn't be closer to the park.

We couldn't have had a more magical start to 2018 and I am so excited to share lots more blog content with you all in the year.
Thank you so much for all your support and here is to a successful 2018.

Éadaoin xoxo

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Discovering Sumatra | Fashion Aid Travels

I am a typical girly girl I'm not going to lie (at the best of times anyway) so when Martijn mentioned adding a jungle trek into our travel plans I was slightly apprehensive.

Flying from modern Singapore to Medan airport was a culture shock to say the least but a good one! I am usually on my phone when I have a few minutes to myself never mind a five hour car journey but from the second we got our private car to the time we arrived to Bukit Lawang I did not take my eyes from the car window it was just incredible to see the way the locals lived their lives which was so different to home.

Bukit Lawang

So when we arrived to Medan airport we had a driver arranged to pick us up from arrivals (we organised this with The Jungle Inn staff online). Our driver was so nice and got us eventually to The Jungle Inn after a long five hour journey (the traffic and roads in general are crazy btw). 

When we first arrived to Bukit Lawang we were greeted by staff from our accommodation who assisted us with our bags as we actually had a 15/20 minute walk from the car to The Jungle Inn. Always tip locals when you can, they are on such little money so giving them anything at all will make their day.

Our accommodation was the definition of the jungle experience and we absolutely loved it! Bukit Lawang isn't where you go for a glam few days spent sipping champaign and going to and from the spa it has adventure written all over it.

  • The staff at The Jungle Inn were amazing during our stay in Bukit Lawang, they knew the area inside out and helped us with whatever we needed...nothing was too much to ask.
  • We organised a one day jungle trek with our accommodation and this was not only a highlight of Sumatra but our entire summer! We saw not one but three orangutans in their natural habitat and at the end of the day, we rafted back to our hotel which was a lot of fun!
  • On our second night in Bukit Lawang we came across an amazing restaurant which you will see more of over on the Fashion Aid YouTube channel. The restaurant was part of the Ecolodge and we ended up having dinner here twice....100% recommend it.
  • Despite the fact it took a lot of persuading from Martijn we did a tour of a bat cave just 10/15 minutes walk from the Ecolodge which was really cool, I can't believe I am even saying that :) 

We once again organised a private driver with our accommodation in Bukit Lawang to bring us all the way to Parapat, Lake Toba. Once we arrived after a 7 hour car journey we got dropped off at the ferry. The ferry brings you over to Samosir island in around 30 minutes I think it wasn't too bad at all. The ferry stops off at each of the accommodations which is really handy.

I am not going to lie this part of Sumatra didn't go to plan as much as I thought it would which was down to illness. On our second day I began to get very sick with my stomach and then the next day Martijn got food poisoning which was not good! So despite the fact, we got to see lots of the island we didn't do as much as you would do in five days.

  • We booked The Lekjon Cottages for five nights in advance back when we decided to go to Sumatra and they were perfect for us. The view from our cottage was incredible and the staff once again were so friendly and assisted us with whatever we needed. As travelling students for over 10 weeks we didn't have a big budget but this was perfect for us in terms of location and price. One thing I would say about the cottages is the noise so if your looking for somewhere very quiet I wouldn't book it however we are all about getting out and exploring so for the time we weren't sick we didn't find it a problem at all.
  • Samosir does not have a lot of tourists which was a real treat and something we loved about the island just like Bukit Lawang. The locals are all so friendly and when we were both sick they couldn't have been any more helpful with medication, finding a doctor etc.
  • We came across the Tabo Cottages when we were out for breakfast one morning and we were so impressed! We ended up having a couple of meals here over the five days and if you do have a bigger budget I couldn't recommend it enough! It is actually amazing value for what you get. 

When we were leaving the island we were collected by the ferry at our accommodation and brought back to Parapat, from there we booked a private driver who brought us all the way to Medan airport which concluded the Sumatra part of our trip.

I really hope this post helped any of you guys planning a trip to the island of Sumatra or if you are planning a trip to Indonesia in general I couldn't recommend adding Sumatra to your list wont be disappointed.

I also have my Sumatra Adventures video live over on my channel showing you exactly what we got up to.

Have a fab weekend,

Éadaoin xoxo
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