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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fashionista's Hotel Review: Ibis Styles Yogyakarta

I adore boutique hotels.

Oh let me correct myself, I simply love boutique hotels.

They're small (which I love because this makes their service to you more personalised), they're extremely cute and they provide top notch service. The trip to Surabaya and Yogyakarta, Indonesia last February was my last trip before giving birth (and here I was thinking that I'd be hanging my travel boots once I become a mom, but apparently my trip to Seoul last September with baby Alexa proved otherwise).

This time, the trip's a little bit more special because my parents decided to free their busy schedules and join us. So on that note, I decided to pick the best hotels that I could find in Surabaya (that'll be in another post which I have yet to write I'm afraid) and Yogyakarta.

So here's a review on Ibis Styles Hotel Yogyakarta (psst: there's several Ibis Styles Hotels all over the world, so I guess this is their signature name for their boutique hotels).


We arrived at the hotel and was welcomed to a lobby full of colour and life. That is why I simply love boutique hotels, they're perky and full of fun!

 
Another part of the hotel lobby.
 
 
Registration counter. Absolutely friendly and helpful staffs. Since we had planned to do a lot of exploring and driving in Yogyakarta (Borobudur is roughly a 45 minutes drive away from the hotel) so we booked a car complete with a driver with the hotel. They provided us with a very nice and charming driver. Love that he knows his stuff and was able to provide us with a lot of insight on Yogyakarta and the places surrounding it. 
 
 
You can hang out here if you like =).
 
 
Or here =). There's actually a small pool outside the lobby and another one on it's rooftop terrace but unfortunately we didn't manage to try them out.
 
 
The corridor leading to our room.
 

 
Our bedroom. The hotel is fully equipped with wifi but unfortunately (maybe due to the position of our room, we were at the far end of the corridor) we couldn't get much wifi coverage in the room. But the connection was superb in my parents' room.
 
 
Another angle of our bedroom.
 
 
And the adjoining bathroom. The bathroom and bedroom is separated by a transparent window (what you're seeing here is the window right next to the shower stall). If you're shy, there are drapes covering the window.
 
 
 
For this trip, we took a train from Surabaya to Yogyakarta (in case you're wondering it's a 6 hour ride, I'll be covering the train ride in my next post) and it was quite late when we arrived in Yogyakarta. Luckily the hotel provides a free pickup service to and from the train station (it was raining heavily when we arrived) and here we are famished, waiting for food at the hotel's dining area.
 
 

If you're ever in Yogyakarta, I do recommend staying at this hotel. It's actually within walking distance to Yogyakarta's famous shopping street, Malioboro street (unfortunately due to our hectic schedule we didn't manage to visit Malioboro). Besides that, the hotel staffs were really nice and accommodating (and the scrumptious buffet breakfast didn't hurt either). It was during this trip that Raden forgot his ear pods at the hotel (and only realized it when we arrived in Surabaya). The hotel was nice enough to post the ear pods back to Malaysia. Thank you to the staffs that made it happen. We really appreciate the kind gesture. To me our trip to Yogyakarta showcases Indonesian hospitality at its best =).
 
For more information on the hotel, you can visit their website [here].
 
 
xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fashionista Mommy Adventures: Breastfeeding in Seoul

At the end of last August, we went for a trip to Seoul, Korea, bringing with us our newborn baby, Alexa (who was only 3 months at the time) and was joined by my brother and sister-in-law, Zyan. Some had commented that Alexa was too young to be on a trip overseas (the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul took about 6 hours) but the thought of bringing Alexa with us was not made on purpose; our tickets were booked even before we knew that I was pregnant with Alexa. After much deliberation, we decided to bring her along (because she's breastfeeding so it made a lot of sense to bring her along on this trip).
 
Breastfeeding in Seoul is actually a pleasant experience as all of its metro stations are equipped with a nursing room. Here's some of the photos: 
 
Here's one at Gapyeong Station, the station that you have to get off if you're intending to go to Nami Island.

 
However, the room is locked most of the time so you may want to go to the station's management office and request them to unlock the room for you.

 
Inside the nursing room at Gapyeong Station. The room is equipped with a basin to wash your hands, a changing table and right next to the changing table is actually a sofa where you can nurse in peace. 

Nami library at Nami Island.


The nursing room is located inside Nami library, so you may want to walk right through this door to get to the library. 

 
Here's the entrance to the library.

 
The door to the nursing room is located at just behind the entrance to the library. I just love the cheerful colors!

 
And here's the inside of the nursing room, it's equipped with a changing table, a microwave (for I'm not sure what because you're not supposed to heat up breastmilk with the microwave), a baby cot, a changing table and a bench for you to nurse.
 
At Lotte Department Store, Myeongdong:
 
 
This is among the best place to nurse that I've ever been to! There's a baby care centre located at the kids section in the department store (if I'm not mistaken it's located at the 5th floor of the building) and this place is equipped with a changing station, a waiting area complete with couches, a very helpful staff that can help and guide hapless parents like me, a private nursing room and a private sleeping corner for the babies.
 
 
The entrance to the baby care centre. Here's the waiting area complete with its green couch. Some parent even chose to feed their babies here and there's some highchairs provided just for that.
 

The view from the sleeping area. There are about six baby cots in this area, it's actually very quiet here as there's a glass door separating this area making the room very, very quiet.
 

 
Alexa in the baby cot. Actually at this moment she was quite grumpy because she's too tired from all the excitement and sleepy at the same time. However, despite the soothing music that they had on in the room and the cool conditioning system, Alexa only managed to sleep for only 10 minutes =(.
 
 

 
The nursing area. This area is separated by a piece of fabric covering the door opening. The room is complete with several nursing pillows and a humidifier. It could comfortably fit about six to seven mummies at the same time (it's that big!).
 
At Itaewon Station:
 

 
The nursing room is located inside the station's management office.
 

And it's also complete with a changing station, washbasin and sofa.

At Seoul Tower:

 

This one was rather small though, the nursing room was equipped with the basic sink, changing table and sofa but the sofa was placed right behind the door so it wasn't very comfortable as you might have to watch out for people opening the door and the door hitting you while you are nursing.
 
At Seoul Incheon Airport:

 
This one was located at the departure hall (there were some mommies using the room so I couldn't take any photos of the room's facilities).


And this one is located also at the departure hall, after you've gone through immigrations before boarding your flight.

So, if you're traveling with a baby to Seoul, be rest assured that Seoul is very baby friendly, every metro station (and most of their department stores) are equipped with a nursing room, just make sure you look for this sign:


I love my experience of traveling to Seoul and I love the fact that they respect the mothers enough so much so that there's plenty of nursing and diaper changing rooms everywhere and there's even special seats for pregnant mommies, or mommies with kids on the metro.

 
Here's my brother with his six months pregnant wife in the metro =).

So for mommies who are planning to travel to Seoul, be rest assured, there's plenty of nursing and diaper changing rooms in Seoul =).

However, the metro stations are not very stroller friendly so it might be wise to invest in a good baby carrier. Luckily we bought an ergo carrier specifically for the trip and ended up using it everyday!



Have a great trip!


xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Halal Food in Seoul, Korea

Here's a follow up to my Halal Food Guide in Seoul (from the previous post Halal Food in Nami Island). Despite the plentiful list of halal outlets at Zabihah.com (there were about 20 listed in the website, by the way), most of the halal outlets are actually located in ONE place, that is in Itaewon. Thus if you're planning to visit Seoul, I do suggest looking for a place to stay in Itaewon as this would make it very convenient for your trip.

 
 
Unfortunately for us, we didn't stay in Itaewon, therefore we had to take the subway there.
 
 
Since you're in Korea, eat like the Koreans, no? Well, we really, really wanted to try some Korean food so on our first day we headed out to Murree which served Indian and Korean food. If you're planning a trip to Seoul and if you're planning to walk most of the time in you're trip, be forewarned that Murree is quite a walk up the hill from the station (I'd say it's a good 15 minutes walk uphill) so be prepared peeps!
 
 
However, we were definitely served good food and the Korean food is absolutely delicious as well, so I'd say it was worth the walk.
 
 
A friend of mine, Lorraine recommends this restaurant (unfortunately we were unable to dine there due to our hectic schedule) but if you like, this restaurant, Little India Seoul is located just opposite of Murree.
 
 
Another restaurant that we went to is Kervan, which offers a lunch set promotion which we tried on our last day in Seoul.

 
The promotion is only available during weekdays, so do take note!
 
 
One lunch set menu consists of salad, bread, soup and a main dish of your choosing (i.e. pasta or kebab rice) and tea. If you're on a tight budget (or on a diet) this menu could be consumed by two people =).

 
Another place that we went was Dubai (on top of Dunkin' Donuts), located right next to Kervan.
 


 
These were among the food that we ordered. The food was absolutely scrumptious, but among all the restaurants that we visited, Dubai is among the priciest. However, the food is absolutely delicious!
 
 
On our last night, we visited Mr. Kebab.
 
 
Here's the deco of Mr. Kebab.

 
Had some kebab beef with rice. Definitely delicious and it's way cheaper from Ankara Picnic (which is on the same row of Mr. Kebab but located right next to the Itaewon station's exit). FYI we had eaten at Ankara Picnic on our first day in Seoul but because we were extremely starving and it was raining heavily, we didn't manage to capture any photos of the place.  
 
 
Here's Seoul Mosque located on top of the hill at Itaewon.  

In Itaewon, there's definitely plenty of Halal restaurants, however, most of them offer either Indian food or Middle Eastern food so there's not much choice in terms of food selection (there were one or two restaurants that offered Malaysian food).


However there might be some circumstances where you might be at a place where it's quite challenging to find halal food. We did the next best thing by getting donuts at Dunkin' donuts or stopping by at Lotteria (Korean version equivalent to McDonalds or KFC) and getting some of their shrimp burger.

 
Our typical breakfast in bed since our hotel was located right next to Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts.
 
For more lists of Halal outlets in Seoul, I suggest you visit: Zabihah.com or alternatively you may also want to visit this site, Muslim Backpackers Seoul.


xoxo Mrs Fashionista


Psst: I'm actually very, very excited that we have a trip scheduled for Spring, 2014. Here's a hint, we'll be going to Doraemon land! Looking forward to listing more halal food outlets there =).