Recently, I had the chance to fly to an "exotic" destination for a working trip, Solo City in Indonesia. According to Wikitravel, "Solo lies some 100 km south of Semarang and some 60 kilometers east of Yogyakarta. As the 'twin' sister of Yogyakarta, this city looks much like the later. But because Solo is not a provincial capital, this city has preserved much of its Javanese character. This also means that Solo is less touristy than Yogyakarta. Today's Solo is a bustling economic centre of some 800,000 (with the suburbs). It is in close proximity to the temples of Prambanan. The town is a centre of art and education, offers some good shopping and has some range of tourist facilities." This is a city which not many people have heard of, even in neighbouring Singapore. Tourists are far and few between, with most tourists heading to Yogjakarta directly from Solo. In fact, Solo still retains much of the original Javanese charm, with its tagline being Solo-The Spirit of Java. Thus, it was a unique opportunity for me to visit this quaint little "city".
For such a small city, there is actually an international airport serving it, Adisumarmo International Airport, mainly with domestic flights to Jakarta (an hour hop away). The only international flights at the airport are Silkair's 3x weekly flights from/to Singapore. AirAsia used to operate daily flights to KUL but it was cancelled from 2nd Sep this year. Guess due to the low number of tourists visiting Solo, AirAsia could not sustain flights as most tourists would fly direct to Yogyakarta. Even Silkair's flights are sustained mainly by connecting traffic from SQ.
11 September 2012
Singapore (SIN) - Solo City (SOC)
The departure flight is scheduled early in the morning at 0755hrs, which must be the earliest morning flight I had ever flown from Changi. However Changi was already bustling with the early morning departures to regional destinations. Surprisingly, the flight up to Solo was totally full! It appeared that almost the entire flight were french tourists connecting from Paris. Guess they must be visiting the UNESCO sites in nearby Yogyakarta. Fortunately, I could choose the emergency seat row during online check-in for free!
Baby airbus A319 9V-SBD would be operating the flight from Gate E10.
Boarding has commenced when I reached the gate and it was very efficient even with the full load. Welcomed by the friendly Silkair girls (whom I find are generally more relaxed than their SQ sisters) and directed to my seat. There were 5 cabin crew on this flight, 2 in Business and 3 in Economy. Very generous crewing by Silkair for 128 pax. The plane has been retrofitted with the new slimline seats in economy, which I personally feel is less comfortable than the older well-padded seats. Business class cabin is also retrofitted with new leather-clad seats. Blankets and pillows were available in the overhead compartments.
At the gate.
Lots of legroom!
Crew came down the aisle with selection of newspapers and soon doors were closed. Flight time was announced as 1hr45m. Safety video was shown on drop-down LCD screens and we were pushed back. No delays in Changi so early in the morning!
Only a short taxi to Rwy20C.
And off we go!
Rotate and passing Tiger Land (aka Budget Terminal), which would be closed on 25th Sep.
Scene of morning Singapore.
Climbing to cruising altitude of 37,000ft.
After seatbelt signs were switched off, crew first came through with arrival immigration forms and then went back to the galley to prepare for meal service. Inflight entertainment was silent shows played on the drop-down screens. Breakfast was served about 30min after takeoff, with all 3 crew members using 2 carts to deliver meals. I was one of the first to be served by the 2 crew manning the second cart.
Choices for breakfast were Fish with Noodles or Scrambled eggs with Chicken Sausage. Accompanying the main course was a warm bun, coffee/tea and drinking water. No fruits, no yoghurt. I also had an orange juice to go along. Silkair has also introduced new serviceware, with the previous ceramic casseroles replaced with lighter plastic ones (similar to SQ), albeit in a nicer design. However, metal utensils were still used with the exception of the teaspoon which is plastic.
I chose the Fish with noodles, which consisted of fishcake, fried fish in sweet and sour sauce, ee-fu noodles and green vegetables. It was a delicious and filling meal!
The other choice of Scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, potatoes, mushrooms and broccoli. Did not look too appealing. My seatmate left the eggs untouched. Lesson: Always stick to the Asian breakfast choice.
I wiped out my noodles. However I wished that Silkair could at least have some breakfast fruits with the meal. But overall still a satisfying meal. A second round of drinks were offered during tray collection.
Cabin view. It was a really full flight!
Soon we started our descent into Solo. Volcanoes in view!
Not sure which is Gunung Merapi though.
Overflying the city of Solo before making our approach to the runway.
Final approach into Adisumarmo Rwy26.
Spoilers up but no thrust reversers were used as we rolled towards the end of the runway, where the terminal building is located.
Reaching the terminal. There were only 2 aerobridges at the terminal, 1 each for international and domestic.
Parked at the gate. Welcome to Solo, The Spirit of Java.
It was a pleasant flight on Silkair. Even with the full load, service by the crew were generally warm, friendly and efficient, and I would say more so than SQ girls. Having the emergency seat row also enhanced the comfort level on this sector. Silkair is definitely an acceptable choice for short regional flights, such as this 2hrs sector.
[Edited 2012-09-16 07:16:37]