Sleepless in Singapore

I had some busy last days in Sydney but was feeling pretty on top of things and looking forward to my flight. I was on a Singapore Airlines A380 and had more than enough to keep me entertained, including an interesting conversation with the young man sitting next to me who lived in London but was from Brunei.

When we landed I packed up my stuff, double-checking to make sure that I’d left nothing behind…except I somehow forgot to check the area by my feet. If I had, I would’ve noticed a small bag with my brand new digital SLR camera! A Pentax K-30 with a Sigma lens that I’d also taken a five year warranty out for. So as it was, I walked off without it. It’s weird that I didn’t remember to grab it, given that I spent the last hour of the flight reading about digital SLR photography. At some point while I was reading, I thought it might be a good idea to take the camera out while reading and fiddle around with it and have the notes in front of me…but it seemed like a bit of a hassle to take it out so I decided to look at it later.

I was already loaded down with two bags of hand luggage – one chockers with gifts for friends – which is partly why I forgot the smaller third bag with my camera. I actually didn’t know it was missing until a good two hours after disembarkation and was already out to dinner with some friends at the Newton Food Centre.

Newton Food Centre, Singapore
Newton Food Centre, Singapore

As soon as I realised, we called the airline and they said that they hadn’t found anything. I checked with them again the next morning and it was a done deal – someone had taken my camera. The temptation of a brand new expensive camera clearly overrode any honesty concerns. I also lost the new 16GB memory card with photos from our honeymoon. I’d saved a few but lost the rest but somehow I’m not as traumatised about that as I thought I would be. After all, back in days of old, you didn’t need a thousand photos from a week-long trip. We’ve still got more than enough photos to represent the trip.

The view from LeVel33
The view from LeVel33

Despite the loss of the camera, I had a good night out in Singapore, staying with a French friend I knew from Chiang Mai, and also hanging out with a Singaporean friend I’d met this past year when he was living in Sydney. After we had dinner, we had a drink at LeVel33 which has incredible views of the city and excellent craft beers. Next stop was a twenty four hour department store called Mustafa in Little India where I bought a new compact camera…and I immediately felt better having a small one that didn’t need its own bag. I could never have known that I’d spend my first night away at home shopping for a camera close to midnight but when travelling, just as in life, you really don’t know what’s awaiting you on your journey. As my friend Vicky pointed out to me a few days ago on Skype, it’s exactly this unpredictability that draws me to travel.

After a sleepless night in Singapore tossing and turning, going over what I did wrong and how I could have done things differently, one thing became very clear – if I’d been travelling with Josh, there’s no way that camera would have been left behind because he would’ve noticed. He knows how forgetful I am with things and is always there to remind me. He’s my balance. I didn’t realise so early on that something would happen which would highlight how much I need him; so this year away is going to force me to learn to be better on my own again. It’s clearly going to be a big, transformative year.

A few days later in Chiang Mai, I’m almost over the camera loss, which is not such a big deal in the scheme of things. But it will probably haunt me for a little while. Partly the financial loss, but mostly because of my unbelievably carelessness and not checking more carefully. It’s not the first time I’ve left something behind on a plane but this was definitely a low point in my travelling career. But I’m not being as hard on myself as I would have in the past. To be perfectly honest, I found the idea of having an SLR again a big pain but I was going to Cambodia and Morocco, and wanted to take make the effort again with photography. Typical of me to want to go the extra mile, I guess :-)

Let’s hope the rest of my time away will go a lot more smoothly!


4 thoughts on “Sleepless in Singapore

  1. That is a terrible start to your trip. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
    I left my small backpack on the shelf on bus from Dubrovnik to Split. I realised when booking into hotel. Reception also owner told me many times to be calm. It had my IPad in it. He then rang the bus company which was unsuccessful so he raced away to bus company still telling me to keep calm. He rang 30 minutes later to say he had it.
    All was intact including iPad. He then said he was worried that I had my life saving pills in the bag. No pills had been mentioned. But I am old. So stupid because I always kept my bags around my feet and did again after that.

    1. So comforting to read this story, thanks for sharing. Makes me realise it’s also a matter of luck. My bag could’ve been picked up by someone who returned it. So glad you didn’t lose your bag!!

  2. After 6 months travelling in Europe and living and working in Spain for 3 months I lost my bag with all my undeveloped photos in an unlocked locker at Gare deNord station on my way back to London. I was tired and not thinking and walked away from the locker without securing it. I had to remind myself that I would always have the memories if not the photos.
    And there’s lots more memories that you’ll be making Sheila. Love to you.

    1. Oh my God, how devastating that must have been! Helps for me to hear that you did that, puts my loss in perspective. I’m completely fine now…this whole episode has made me really appreciate having a blog, my favourite way of recording my travels – certainly much more than photography!

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