Flight of the Kiwi


Nine hours and 25 minutes across the Pacific Ocean, the continent of Australia and the archipelago of Indonesia, I’m back in Singapore. All I’ve got on my mind is uploading my pictures when I get back. Not just my work photos, but my personal ones as well. For every assignment, I carry not only my full photo kit but also a point-and-shoot wonder I like to call my Happycam.


Photo by Dony Permedi

Happycams are important because they not only allow for fuss-free quick snaps for less demanding situations such as “look how pretty my dinner is”, but because pictures are produced in a lower resolution and size, it make them easier and faster to share. Having returned from New Zealand, I can’t wait to review my pictures taken outside of work.

Opening my camera bag, I look into all the compartments and move the large lenses around in search of my Happycam. After 20 minutes, no Happycam. I turn my clothes about in my luggage and look through my hand carry luggage. Happycam undetected.  My heart rate rises and my face begins to flush.I go through the whole search again – nada. Finally, I conclude that I must have left it in the hotel in Auckland. I call them.

At what is 2 am in Auckland, I ring up SkyCity hotel and a lady with a Filipino accent, sounding very alert for that time in the morning, answers my distress call. She is quick to do a check with housekeeping to learn if a silver-coloured compact camera had been turned over. My hopes are high; nothing bad happens in New Zealand, people are honest, I’ll find my camera. “I’m sorry miss, I’ve checked the lost and found and nothing’s been submitted by housekeeping. Perhaps you should call again at 8 am when housekeeping gets in.” My heart sinks and I’m about ready to run into the wall for being so careless. This was to be a trip without happy pictures.

It’s 4 am in Singapore and I’m calling SkyCity Auckland again. This time a young man with a Kiwi accent answers the phone. “Ah miss!  We’ve been trying to call you.  I think we’ve got your camera.” Yippee. It’s true, nothing bad happens in New Zealand! He takes down my address and asks, “We’ll courier it to you and just charge it to your credit card?” Of course, I say, happy memories are worth more.

Five minutes later, the young man calls me back. “I’m sorry miss, but it seems I was misinformed. We found a camera charger, not a camera. I’m real sorry about that. We’ll continue to look and will contact you if we find it.”

Then, as with Archimedes in a long bath, it hits me that if I didn’t leave it in the hotel, it must be in the cab I took from the hotel to the airport. One of my job hazards is that I collect anyone’s name card, you never know who you’re going to quote in a conversation, even the cab driver. I shuffle through my stack of cards and there, glowing with hope are the words “Craig Morton. Corporate Cabs, Professionally Driven.” I punch his mobile number into my phone and my blood pressure rises with anticipation. He answers.

“Hi, I’m not sure you remember me but I took your cab two days ago from SkyCity hotel to Auckland airport…” Morton interrupts me, “Ah yes, I remember you, I enjoyed our conversation very much. And your camera is on its way to you!”


July 2008


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debby ngDebby Ng is an environmental photojournalist whose work has been published in several regional and international magazines, including the award-winning Lebanese magazine, Environment & Development. She has also worked with numerous Asian and international non-government organisations such as the TRAFFIC, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

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