Changi Airport has been repeatedly voted as the world’s best airport, chosen by passengers. Including me. The restaurants, the cafes, the science center, and especially the shops located strategically in every gate never fail to excite me. Nonetheless, positive reviews and impression that stick to my head for years are like pouring tea into a full cup. I learned the hard way that there’s always a room for other possibilities below expectations when I landed in Singapore from Seoul 2 years ago.
TERMINAL 2 ARRIVAL GATE, CHANGI AIRPORT
After picking up our luggage from the baggage carousel, I directly approached the rack of tourist maps. Suddenly, my friend Miss I interrupted, “What if we go to the toilet first?”
We took turn to the loo and the one who didn’t go was in charge to watch the bags and suitcases. Having answered the nature call, we sat on the chair facing the toilet entrances. I didn’t want to think much about reading maps and MRT stuff for a while. I calmed myself down by texting my friends and parents before leaving the airport.
We soon noticed that “our toilet” was next to the Lost and Found section, full with piles of suitcases and bags that had not yet been claimed.
ONE HOUR LATER
When we were in the alley of the MRT station to take the next subway to China Town, I heard Miss I calling me from behind. I looked back. She moved her hands up and down about 2 to 3 times in front of her shoulders. The back of her hands were facing to me, while her fingers were folded, grabbing the air. I pinched my eyes and slightly shook my head. I was aware it wasn’t a gymnastics warm-up, but I really had no idea what she was trying to say.
“The blue thing!” She exclaimed.
“What blue thing?” I still didn’t get it.
“Your backpack! Where is it?”
I paused. In a few seconds I finally got it. The gesture I couldn’t understand in the beginning demonstrated my backpack straps. All parts of my body instantly felt so weak. I almost lost my voice. I limply said,
“My camera’s in there.”
Miss I showed her wide-eyed look and gasped. So did I. I completely forgot allocating my camera to the other bag, where I kept my wallet and passport, when I was on the plane. However, we decided to deal with it later on as it only took another 2 stops to China Town Station where our hotel was located to put our suitcases.
How she realized that something went wrong with me was logical. In the last day of our trip to Seoul, we all had a heavy backpack that drained the energy to move faster. In her point of view, I walked way too fast, too carefree for someone who carried a 5 kg backpack, although It’s been my habit to walk fast.
What I still don’t understand is how come I didn’t notice that I lost or left my own backpack, after travelling for so many times before in my life.
Back in Seoul, we had had lack of sleep the day before the morning flight to Singapore. Moreover, we arrived in Incheon International Airport an hour late, the queue was pretty long at the check-in counter and we almost missed our flight. Not to mention that I had a problem with the tax refund that the custom official had to confiscate my favourite 250 ml shampoo I bought.
I thought the bad luck had ended. Yet it was destined otherwise. The hope still rose, though. Remember that our seat was face to face with the Lost and Found section.
THE RETURN TO TERMINAL 2
When we arrived at the hotel, I couldn’t wait to return to the airport and find out what happened to my blue backpack. The comfortable bed in front of me didn’t stop me to do what I wanted to do next. Hunger didn’t strike me any longer. Miss I insisted on accompanying me although I didn’t ask for it.
The lost and found information counter on Terminal 2 meeting point was surrounded by people who had the same problem as mine. Meanwhile, I spotted a multi-storey rack with dividers behind the counter filled with suitcases, laptop bags and hand carries. Some were even on the floor since the rack was overloaded with the leftover luggage. And my backpack wasn’t there.
Almost half an hour later, my turn came. I was required to describe the outlook of my backpack and its content on paper. Tons of people reporting lost luggage every, day making the Lost and Found department one of the busiest department in the airport, a Filipino lady officer said to me, who thought I’m from the Philippines (no surprise, she’s not the first person to assume that way).
An hour later, after processing my report, an Indian woman in black uniform was assigned to search my bag based on my description inside the “passenger’s only” arrival gate, where “our toilet” was located. She walked back and forth sweeping around the last spot where we were at. Including the area around the belts nearby where we collected our luggage.
Since the distance between the “passenger’s only” arrival gate and the meeting point was just a stone’s throw away, separated by the tempered glass and a sliding door, I could see the whole searching progress very clearly.
I spontaneously approached the glass separator, trying to communicate with her. My index finger pointed the Lost and Found section next to the toilet. Then, I pointed myself and the spot she was at, while saying something by solely using the movement of my lips,
“I’d like to get in!” I was eager to assist her in person.
Instead, the lady over there gave a hand signal that I had to step away from the separator, waving her palm that I was not allowed to re-enter the site.
A brief pantomime show was over with no results.
IT WASN’T THERE
Having repeatedly observing and searching in the same location, she shook her head and lifted her shoulders. She couldn’t find my backpack.
How come? I had it labeled with my name, address and phone number on its handle. A good Samaritan could easily find it and put it in Lost and Found nearby. Or call the officials to text me or something.
A good Samaritan? Is there any these days?
The Filipino lady advised me to report the incident to the airport police upstairs suppose I wanted to proceed further about the search. I agreed, the CCTV could be the answer of everything!
So that would be my next destination. Too bad it wasn’t Orchard Road.
Stay tuned for the upcoming next sequel shortly.