Meeting The Peanuts at Charlie Brown Cafe

The Peanuts Movie is no longer showing on cinemas in my country. Sadly, I have to accept that I miss it. But actually, long before the movie launching, I once stumbled upon  Charlie Brown Cafe on Grange Road, situated in the middle of the busiest shopping street in Singapore, Orchard Road.

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I was looking for a place to sit and talk comfortably to meet an old friend of mine somewhere in Orchard Road, since I was sightseeing in that area with my parents. Getting a nice and unique place for photography would be a plus.

All of the sudden, I noticed something very familiar on my right side when I was walking down the street. Charlie Brown stood confidently outside his cafe, making a statement that, “There is no service charge in my cafe”. That’s not all. The most famous beagle in the world, Snoopy, was sitting comfortably greeting people with his huge smile and ready to zip his coffee.
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These two fellas stood out among the crowds, making it the perfect place for an “unforgettable” meeting point in the city I don’t know the orientation that well.

I couldn’t hide my excitement to see the giant Snoopy with his cuteness and lovely smile right before me. There’s no way I would miss this opportunity to visit him and his “family” in their small world less than 100 square meters.

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outdoor area

The Peanuts family portraits were from top to toe, where the largest one was on the wall facing guests and crowds passing by outside the cafe. The comic strips under the canopy reminded people how the story of their friendship and the daily life complexity among them get its fame worldwide.

Look at the ceiling and the dining tables. The appearance of the smiley faces of each character assisted us no matter where we were and saluted us from every angle. How sweet.

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the ceiling

My friend, whom I have known since kindergarten, chuckled that I chose Charlie Brown Cafe just because I like Snoopy a lot. Here’s to never growing up!

Occupying a spot in the outdoor area, it would be more ethical to have something Charlie offered in his cafe. As hunger didn’t strike us at all, a glass of strawberry smoothie and a cup of caffé latte would do just fine. Would the coffee be as good as how Snoopy described on his face?

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comic strips

Our orders took longer than expected for a quiet traffic on that day. Fortunately, we were in a very engaging conversation that really killed the waiting time. I almost called the waiter asking for our drinks, but he already brought them to our table.

Something didn’t quite right from the way he held the glass or the cup. For the correct manner and hygiene reason, he should not grab near the edge of it, the spot where the lips zip the drinks. The latte mug had a handle to avoid the boiling heat. Strawberry smoothie was a cold drink, so he could simply hold the main body of the glass. I think he missed the top three lesson on serving drinks to customers.

Was he new? A part timer who only worked ten hours per week?

Oh hey, there you go. Woodstock’s smile could bring back the good mood. I don’t always meet Woodstock in the latte, therefore I should immortalize it in my camera before it turned cold.

Generally speaking, the latte and the smoothie were just okay, not so bad but not the best either. They could improve them with stronger coffee taste in the latte or the strawberry taste in the strawberry smoothie.

However, I realized from the start that the priority of the visit was not about tasting signature food or drinks. Signature characters were the in the limelight of everything presented in the cafe, to create some kind of bond between the good fellas and the fans worldwide although The Peanuts gang don’t exist in real life.

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The friendship never ends, yet we had to end the hangout moment because she had another appointment to catch. The bill came to our table. Charlie literally kept his promise, not to put service charge in his cafe.

We had a great time updating each other’s current news after not seeing each other for long time. Overall, it was a fun experience, thanks to the atmosphere recalling a small part of great childhood memories.

 

 

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Lost and (Never) Found in Changi Airport Part 1: The Lost Backpack on Terminal 2

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.”

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multiple banknotes display under the glass table

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).

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crowds at changi airport

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.

Lost and (Never) Found in Changi Airport Part 2: The Ugly Truth about Terminal 2

The search for my backpack didn’t deliver any satisfying results. The officials from Terminal 2 Arrival Hall couldn’t find it. I was advised to proceed to the airport police station on the second floor. Miss I joined to accompany me.

“TELL US WHAT HAPPENED.”

“Tell us what happened.” A full-figured Malay policeman greeted us in a typical CSI opening conversation.

Ironically, I didn’t want to talk about it, really, although I cried for their help to find my bag. But I had no choice, had I?

After going to the toilet at Terminal 2 Arrival Hall, we went to the seating area face to face with the toilet, where lost and found section with piles of unclaimed suitcases next to it. We sat there for about 20 minutes for a quick rest, texting friends and relatives. Our spot was very quiet and as long as I remember, no one but us sitting there before we left the airport.

An hour later, Miss I reminded me that I didn’t bring my backpack. I was shocked. Nonetheless, since Chinatown (where our hotel was) only took 2 more stops, we decided to put our luggage in the hotel first.

I hurriedly reported the loss of my backpack to the Loss and Found department as soon as we returned to the airport. Despite all my complete description of the lost object, including its contents, the bag was not found.

For more dramatic detail in this chapter, kindly check Lost and (Never) Found in Changi Airport Part 1: The Lost Backpack on Terminal 2

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HE MAY THINK I WAS STUPID

He summarized my story on paper in bullet form to make it easier to remember. May be he thought I was stupid. Too stupid to remember that I had brought a backpack from day one. Too stupid not to know that it was gone until my friend told me so.

In the mean time, I whispered, discussing with Miss I about my bag whereabouts in case she recalled anything at all. The bag was still with me until we sat on that chair. If not mistaken, it was on the floor beside my legs. It could be on the empty chair on my left when I sat, turning my body to the other side.

We both had a vague memory about it.

MARC JACOBS’S IN THERE

Apparently he overheard our conversation. He suddenly continued the investigation in Indonesian flawlessly, leaving his Malay accent behind. No wonder, he annually visits his relatives in Jakarta and moreover, he is even familiar with the name of main streets in the city.

His next question hurt me, unfortunately. Because I had to list down what was inside my light blue Reebok backpack, whose top handle had a Singapore Airlines luggage tag with my name, address and phone number in it. There were quite a lot of things in that bag to avoid an extra fine for an overweight luggage. But shit happened and I believe the loss cost more than the fine.

Apart from souvenirs from Korea I wanted to give my family, toiletries and accessories I bought there, I had a portable Chanel no.5 perfume bottle, Marc Jacobs semi cat-eye sunglasses and above all, the most valuable stuff of all was my Fuji X-Series camera, especially the memory card in it. Another worst part was that I only bought it 3 months ago with the 12 month-installment payment deal.

“Marc Jacobs? Really? Wow, he’s (the thief) so lucky.”

It came to my surprise that the policeman right in front of me reacted that way. He even overlooked Chanel. Marc Jacobs number one fan?

I, on the other hand, didn’t think much about those branded stuffs. Instead, I blamed myself that I forgot to put it back from the backpack to my handbag on board.

There were a lot of stories I want to share about the best days of my life in Korea. I already had drafts in my head about upcoming articles I was about to write and it would be pretty hard without supporting pictures that literally tells a thousand words.

Nonetheless, I realized that it had been 2 hours since I lost my bag, more than enough for a thief to steal it. A name tag marking the bag’s ownership was too easy to ignore.

Would I be able to make it?

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HERE COMES THE UGLY TRUTH

Actually I don’t know for sure whether someone took my bag before I know it or I accidentally left it there. I was completely black-out. Hopefully, the analog CCTV screen hanging on the ceiling could give the answer.

The first scene was the luggage claim area, the last Terminal 2 belt number between 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm. I and Miss I watched it attentively. The policeman followed my instruction and kept fast forwarding the recording until we found us on that scene.

“Yep, that’s the one!” I pointed at the rear side of a girl wearing a patterned dress, who was next to another girl wearing a sweater and pants. Despite rough pixels and monochrome images, it still showed a proper silhouette of an object. And for sure, they were no other than us.

In real life, I was wearing a collared t-shirt dress with vermilion red floral pattern.

“Yes, I haven’t changed my clothes since I arrived until now.” I replied in response to the policeman’s question for an affirmation, whether I was still wearing the same dress as that on CCTV. Miss I nodded to support my statement. Same story, she had not got the time to change her outfit either.

On screen, it showed the first chapter of our appearance in Singapore, from the waiting until the collection of our luggage from the belt. My light blue backpack was still attached on my back. After several minutes, there were no odd scenes like a stranger’s hand grabbing my bag or something. Everything went normal.

“How about the scene outside the toilet, at the sitting area?” I asked.

“Wait a moment.” He immediately pressed something on his keyboard to switch to a different CCTV. It unexpectedly took a while. He wrinkled his forehead and the tip of his eyebrows almost meet each other.

“Ow, it’s upgrading.” He said.

“What do you mean by that?” I smelled trouble.

It means the CCTV didn’t work because it was still in the process of system upgrade. I looked at him in disbelief.

The world’s best airport had a broken CCTV??

He revealed the ugly truth, that there were more upgrading CCTVs in the airport, apart from the location of the incident, to comply with the current system.

So far, Singaporean authorities have caught thieves from China and Australia, although some of them could get away with what they did. An Australian coming to Singapore for stealing stuffs? For real? The number of these nasty people have been increasing, yet they have managed to arrest them several times.

Yeah right, but that would not be in my case, since no one could see what really happened at that Terminal 2 seating area.

It didn’t take a genius that I looked completely like hell. He tried to engage us with conversations, especially to comfort me, about the recent situation in Indonesia, what I do for living, his relatives in Indonesia, our travels and so on. Sometimes, small talks stimulate ideas and may bring up some memories that help the investigation. Apparently, it didn’t happen to me.

“I’ll just make you an official report for the insurance.” He said.

That sentence slapped me really hard. I usually regard travel insurance as an unnecessary expenses. From now on, I’ll change my perspective about it.

I finished dealing with the loss bag at 10 pm. Unbelievable.

LOST AND NEVER FOUND

The day after tomorrow, I checked the progress of the search by showing the official police report at the same Terminal 2 Loss and Found department. They said it had not been found yet.

Changi Airport would send an email in case the loss good is found within 3 months. That email has never arrived in my inbox. Until the day I wrote this article 2 years after the incident.

The world’s best airport does not always guarantee the safety of your luggage. The nomination of the world’s best airport does not depend on the amount of active CCTVs versus the broken, or upgrading, ones. The only person who can guarantee the safety of your luggage is you, ONLY you. Not your spouse, friend or partner who travels with you.

Please watch your belongings at all times. Additionally, a good rest prior to the trip will increase the awareness of your surroundings and belongings.