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Saturday, 3 March 2018

THE BEST FOR LAST....LOMBOK | Fashion Aid Travels

I'm not going to lie I was not overly enthusiastic about Lombok before we stepped foot on the island and leaving the Gilis in my head was the end of the sun holiday vibes which I was not overly excited about either but I was so wrong!

We got a boat from Gili Air to Lombok (Bangsal Harbour) and from there got a private driver to Senggigi which is where we started our Lombok adventures. If you are going to Lombok you need to be very careful when you arrive off the boat! The second we arrived we got approached by every driver possible and the trick is to just keep walking until you get out onto the street. There we got an official taxi (Blue Bird) to Senggigi. You can also arrange a coach but we just decided to get on the road the minute we arrived.

We didn't have the best experience in Senggigi and the main reason for this was because of the accommodation we picked. Do try up your budget a little when you cant find a place for your budget its just not worth staying somewhere you feel unsafe.

We got a private driver along with a few other passengers to Kuta Lombok and from here we just had the best time! We booked our accommodation for Kuta, Lombok the day before we arrived and we couldn't have been luckier to get The Magic Valley Guest House which we found on Airbnb so last minute.

The manager Andy couldn't have been any more helpful if he tried. We rented our scooter with Andy for around 60,000 IDR per day which was standard enough for a scooter in Indonesia.
We did not plan on driving half as much as we did on our 12 week trip but renting a scooter is definitely the best form of transport when you're on a new island just because you have the independence to drive where you want whenever you want.

You will see more of The Magic Valley Guest House in my Lombok Vlog but it was just the perfect place to stay in Kuta. We loved coming back to such a peaceful place at night but also have the option to drive to all the busy spots which were really only a five minute drive away on the scooter.

Tanjung Ann Beach was most definitely the highlight of the Lombok trip for me and I'm sure you can see why. It was the most beautiful beach I have ever stepped foot on and the cool thing was there was bearly anyone there. If you are in Kuta, Lombok you have to check it out. The beach was around 15 minutes away from The Secret Valley Guesthouse so if your staying in Kuta Lombok near Kuta beach it shouldnt be more than a 15 minute drive by scooter to Tanjung Ann.

There are lots of little warungs where you can get Nasi Goreng for little to no money. We drove there really early in the morning, got a sunbed and ate at the little warung on the beach for the day. You can also get fresh coconuts which we practically lived off on our beach days (they are so cheap and so so good!)

We met Sarah and Paul who were also staying in The Secret Valley Guest House from London and we ended up spending the majority of our time with them.
The four of us drove to Pink beach from our accommodation in Kuta, Lombok which let me tell you was not just a spin down the road but it was one of the most beautiful drives ever! We downloaded our map from google maps before leaving our Airbnb WIFI to make sure we would get there safe and sound and after a lot of windy, bumpy roads we got there.

Pink Beach was absolutely beautiful and it happened to also be roasting on the day we went so we had such a nice day chilling on the beach with our fresh coconuts however it is definitely not as pink as you see on the Instagram pics which is clearly because of so many people over edit.

For our final night in Kuta, Lombok we decided to book into the Puri Rinjani Bungalows which was only a two minute walk to Kuta Lombok Beach. We booked a standard bungalow which was absolutely perfect and to be honest the only reason we changed from our Airbnb to the bungalows was to have the pool for our last day or two.

The bungalows were also a two minute walk from the strip which had all of the local markets selling clothing, gifts for home etc. as well as some fab restaurants which I can assure you we checked out :)

It was 700,000IDR on for our final night which is €41. Clearly, in Europe that is an absolute steal but in Indonesia, we got a lot for 700,000 and never spent that much on a nights accommodation.Like I said in the vlog we wanted to end the trip on a high so we did.
The morning we checked out we had the option to leave our bags at reception and go for food before heading to the airport. We arranged a private driver to the airport which was only 30 minutes away and worked out perfect for us.

It felt so weird to head to Lombok International Airport knowing we were finished our entire trip but we honestly couldn't have ended it on a higher note...Lombok blew us away.
The Lombok Vlog has also gone LIVE over on the Fashion Aid YouTube channel so that will give you even more of an insight into what the place was really like.
THE BEST FOR LAST....LOMBOK | Fashion Aid Travels

Thank you so much for reading and let's hope there will be lots more content coming soon.
Have a great weekend,

Éadaoin xoxo

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
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