Lombok was always touted as the next Bali and is compared to Bali as when 20 years ago. Therefore as a birthday getaway, I and redeemed about 12000+ Krisflyers miles for a return ticket to the Indonesian island of Lombok. Lombok was truely a paradise where life is still very laidback and it does not have the touristy feel and crowds of Bali, even though it is the peak season. Beaches are less crowded, seas clearer, definitely one of the most relaxing holidays I ever had!
02 August 2010
Singapore (SIN) - Mataram Lombok (AMI)
We checked in at Terminal 2 about 2hrs before the flight and I was pleasantly surprised that my seat was "upgraded" to an emergency exit row with more legroom! After clearing the ever efficient immigration, we grabbed a quick lunch at T3 before proceeding over to T1 to check out the renovated departure hall and some plane spotting.
T1 duty free shopping
After exploring the "new" T1, we then proceeded back to T2 for our flight. Our baby airbus had just arrived earlier from Yangon and is currently being readied for our flight at Gate E2.
Our baby airbus A319 at the gate.
Boarding was called about half hr before STD and it seemed the flight was only about 60-70% full. Was greeted by a set of very cheerful Silkair crew when I entered the aircraft. The A319 of Silkair is staffed by 5 cabin crew, 2 working in Business class and 3 in Economy Class. Pillows and blankets were not available on each seat but some were available in the overhead compartments. One has to help themselves to the pillows during boarding or risk running out of pillows when the plane fills up.
My "upgraded" seat. Unlimited legroom!
Another view of seats. Legroom was quite generous for normal seat rows.
Boarding was completed very soon and we were welcomed aboard by the purser and the captain. Our flight time would be 2hrs20min at 37,000ft. The crew then came down the cabin and offered newspapers of either Today or Straits Times. Boarding music was also playing. Hmm, seems like some of SQ's cost-cutting measures have not filtered down to MI yet.
Time to check out the seat pockets. We had the Safety card, Inflight Mag and duty-free mag. Well, at least Silkair's inflight mags will still be around for quite some time.
At the gate waiting for pushback.
Boarding was completed and doors were closed slightly ahead of scheduled. Safety video was then shown via the overhead drop-down lcd screens. The Silkair safety video really needs to be updated! It still features the old economy class seat covers!
Taxied to Rwy 20C for departure.
Banking over Batam.
Climbing to 37000 feet
After seatbelt signs were switched off, the crew came down to distribute immigration forms, followed by a round of WBJ (water, beer, juice) on trays. Then they disappeared into the galleys to prepare the meals. The overhead screens also dropped down and started playing silent TV shows, consisting Just for Laughs and some circus act shows. This is the only form of inflight entertainment on Silkair other than newspapers and inflight magazines. I guess this is sufficient for regional flights of around 2hrs flight time but it is quite mediocre for longer flights such as the 4-5hrs flights to Kathmandu or Bangalore! 45min after takeoff, lunch service was started. 2 carts were used, 1 starting from the front of the cabin and the other from the rear. A friendly but seemed quite newbie crew tended the front meal cart.
Meal service in progress.
We had a choice of Spicy fish with rice or Tomato chicken with rice. Accompanying the meal were fruits and a tub of water. No starters or buns. I wonder is Silkair serves more substantial meals on longer flights..
I had Chicken with rice and a orange juice. It was simple but good.
My friend had the spicy fish with rice. He commented it was average.
After meal trays were cleared, there was nothing much else to do except reading the inflight magazines, newspapers or just staring out of the windows. It was quite cloudy most of the way so nothing much to view. Crew also came down with duty free sales but it seemed nothing was sold.
We started our descent about 30min our of Lombok with dusk catching up.
Halfway during the descent, the captain came on the informed that we would be flying pass some Bali volcanoes and to watch our for a magnificent sight on the right side of the plane. The view was indeed spectacular!!
Approaching Bali and the volcanic mountains.
Flying alongside Gunung Agung. Amazing!!
Had a straight in approach and landing into Lombok since there is hardly any traffic into the airport. In fact we were one of the only two international flights a day into Lombok! The rest were domestic arrivals.
The airport was really small, as you can see in the video. We turned off the taxiway and was almost immediately parked at the stand. No aerobridges either. There were only 2 other propeller planes at the airport, really quiet!
Disembarking by the traditional way.
Riau Airlines Fokker 50 beside us.
The small airport terminal.
Last glimpse of our plane with mountains in the background.
As I mentioned, there were only 1 or 2 international arrivals a day with the rest of the flights being domestic. However, there were seperated terminals for domestic and international flights. Only 1 Visa-on arrival counter for arriving passengers and with our flight bringing pax of mostly Western origin, the visa-on-arrival queue snaked from the terminal out onto the tarmac! Luckily being Singaporean, we were able to bypass the queue to the immigration counters but with only 2 counters available, it still took quite a wait to clear immigration and customs. Baggage belt was at most 10 meters long that airport staff had to remove luggage from the belt to prevent bags from chocking at the end of the belt. In fact, the arrival "hall" was so small that it felt more like a room! The whole terminal seemed overwhelmed by our A319 planeload! What an interesting experience! But I guess thinks are going to change for the better as Lombok's new international airport would be opening soon. On with my holiday in Lombok!
Some photos of Lombok:
Holiday Resort Lombok
05 August 2010
Mataram Lombok (AMI) - Singapore (SIN)
After a really relaxing holiday with a spa session by the beach just before departing to the airport, I literally had to drag myself to the airport for the flight home. The taxi driver had initially dropped us at the larger domestic terminal (there were no signages of stating which terminal was domestic or international) but upon entering the terminal we realised that all the flights shown on the FID display were domestic and the Silkair counter was no where to be found. It was only when we asked that the security guys informed that our Silkair flight would be departing from the building further down the road, about 50m away. So we had to drag ourselves over to the international "terminal" for check-in. Just like arrival, the check-in area was just like a small room with 3 desks opened for Silkair. The other airline using the terminal is Merpati, with their daily flight to Kuala Lumpur via Surabaya.
We were apparently one of the last few pax to check-in. A view of the check-in "room". Departure tax payment and sole immigration counter was just beside, right of the photo.
After clearing immigration, one can either hang out at the small cafe, 3 shops or this open-air pavilion.
If you decided to clear through security, you will end up at the gatehold room which consists of rows of metal benches and a toilet, with view of the tarmac.
My boarding pass stub.
This evening, the airport was slightly busier, with another Merpati B733 on the tarmac. The flight was departing to Kuala Lumpur via Surabaya and was delayed for 2hrs. Our A319 had also arrived from Singapore. Wow, I had seen the other international departure!
Merpati B733 taxiing to the runway.
Soon, boarding call was announced and we had a nice stroll across the tarmac to our A319 aircraft. Pax, including me, were posing for pictures in front of the plane with no interference from the ground staff, unlike in Singapore where eagle-eyed security officers would remind you that photo taking is not allowed once you whip out your camera on the tarmac while boarding at the budget terminal.
Walking to our plane, with passengers posing for photos. So nice!
Climbing up the stairs.
This A319, 9V-SBG, was fitted with new business and economy seats. The economy seats were supposed to be slim-line seats fitted with adjustable headrests, which equates to harder and more uncomfortable seats but an additional row of seats. This is true as I find the seats more comfortable and with more seatpitch on the older aircraft. Crew were equally friendly this evening, with a total of 7 cabin crew (!!) onboard. I then realised that 2 of them were trainee crew on their training flight. So we had a whopping 5 cabin crew in economy today! Our flight was 100% full in economy but business class was almost empty.
Definitely tighter seat pitch. Seats were also hard and slightly uncomfortable.
Surprisingly, no boarding music was played this time round. After all pax had boarded, doors were immediately closed and engines were started. There was no need for pushback and the pilot just taxied and turned towards the runway. Flight time was announced to be 2hr30min at 36000ft. Safety video was also played.
Safety video playing.
The taxi to the runway was so short that the safety video was still playing while we were holding on the runway itself. After the video has ended, cabin crew walked through the cabin for a last inspection and switching on the reading lights for passengers who were reading before the cabin was dimmed. All this while, we were holding on the runway!
Dimmed cabin but the reading lights were very bright!
After the cabin was secured, we blasted down the runway. The takeoff was very powerful!
After seatbelt signs were switched off, crew issued immigration forms and a round of WBJ. Screens also came down and showed silent programmes.
Cabin after takeoff.
Again after about 45min of cruise, dinner service commenced. There were a choice of Chicken with pasta or Spicy fish with rice. As we were seated at the second last row and the carts started from the front, the crew had ran out of the chicken when they reached us. So unwillingly, we had to settle for the fish even though the chicken option looked much more appetizing.
Fried fish with spicy sauce and rice. Again offered with fruits. Had a 7-up to go along. The meal was ok, nothing to shout about.
After trays were cleared, I made a trip to the lavatories. The lavatories on this newer aircraft were fitted with wooden laminated flooring!
Amenities in the toilet. The only amenities were soap, tissues and sanitary pads...
As it was my birthday, my friend had arranged with Silkair to request a birthday cake, which was presented by the crew towards the end of the flight. As we were descending shortly, the crew packed the cake for me to take away at the end of the flight.
Strawberry cheese cake, compliments of Silkair. It was big!
Landing into Changi Rwy 20R.
Taxiing pass a BA B744 at T1.
Parked at T2 Gate E11.
Silkair offers a decent product for its regional flights but I may hesitate to fly them on longer range flights due to lack of entertainment and amenities. If there were able to install proper IFE similar to Garuda on their B738NGs, it would definitely improve their product offerings. However with Silkair's low cost base, I don't see this happening in the near future.
Currently with no immediate plans for travels, my next trip report could be months away. However, I would still appreciate any comments from you readers. Thanks!!
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