Georgetown

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I totally fell head over heals for Malaysia, especially Georgetown — as you can see it’s a photographer’s paradise, with its colourful streetart and crumbling colonial facades. Such a vibrant multi-cultural community, and everyone seems to live in peace and acceptance of one another’s faiths: Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists and Buddhists are all represented here. There are so many temples and places of worship; on one street four Chinese temples stand literally within a stone’s throw of each other. You can visit most of them for free. We took a walking tour, but to be honest it’s just as fun to explore by yourself with a map. It was interesting to hear about Georgetown’s history though and our guide, Xavier, took us to the best street food spots. Every street you turn down has something interesting to discover and although it is touristy (particularly popular with backpackers), it still has a very laidback vibe and we didn’t find it too crowded, even in the height of summer. We stayed in a B&B on Love Lane, which is packed full of bars and restaurants and live music at night. Right in the centre of things — a great spot!

 

© Emily Hughes, 2019

Rain song

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The slick sharp shapes of the city are blurred out of focus. The pale bright sky darkens. And then the rain comes. Sudden. Violent. An eviction. There is thunder. Lightning. I sit up. Turn my eyes to the sky, press my nose to the glass. There’s something thrilling about a storm which makes me feel like a child.

I listen to the rain pelt out tinny drum beats on the coloured metal roof tops. I wait. For it to wash everything away: dirt, sin, hope. I wait for it to end. I don’t want it to end. My eyes are bleary with colour block walls and mischievious gods with kohl lined eyes, scorpions which light up in the dark. Wary children with shy smiles and women who turn their backs to me, flashing brightly coloured teeth which nibble at proud whipped crowns. And banana leaves and teak trees, lush highland greens. Limestone mountains jutting into the sky. The electric blue of a birdwing butterfly. And smells I want to jumble up and strike onto hot night time pavements like firecrackers, inhale like anodyne: ripe melon, chrysanthemum tea, steamed yellow corn. Petrol and incense and ginger flowers. Fried banana doused in vinegar.

And the rain. I want to feel the warm rain on me. Sliding down my cheeks and the back of my neck, bouncing off my toes. I want the force of it to perforate me, punch me out onto an unknown landscape. I want to lean into it, let it prop me up, a cut out doll. I want it to drench my clothes to the outline of my flimsy body, dissolve me into a sugary puddle and suck my flip flops off my feet. I remember once, dancing in the rain. There was music. I was laughing, turning, my face and hands reaching to the sky, feeling the happiest I might have ever been. The rain can be a shelter for your loneliness. It can be freeing that way.

Outisde is all colour. Strange and rattling. But inside is quiet. Black and white. And it feels like I’ve slipped back into some watchful heart space, tender and fragrant as a kiss from a frangipane baby. I slouch against the cushioned seats. Soon, the roads are slushy canals. Sharp needles drill out dents in the pocked concrete. The downpour is exhausting. It slants across my vision, sends me into a cross-eyed daze.

We stop outside a restaurant. I see a group of men sitting and eating with their hands, bare foot, cross-legged. Flexing their toes like lizards.

It’s a slow crawl to the hotel, just 5o yards away. But no-one seems to mind about the hold up very much. No-one seems angry, or in a hurry. After all, they know. They’re no match for the sky around here. They wear patience on their sun-beaten faces like masks. A couple of horns beep pathetically and the rain drums on.

We shrug forwards and it calms, picks out a slower, more accidental rhythm. It builds again to the chorus, another unexpected rush of sound. A rising fury. Crescendo. This happens once, twice, three times.

A verse, a chorus, a song, of the rain.

 

© Emily Hughes, 2018, image and words.

Lethe

 

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© Emily Hughes, 2018

jade

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I love it when nature gives you such gifts of light and form and such vibrant colour as this. I have spotted these intriguing jade vines before in Brazil and I love the way they hang in curling tendrils like cascading waterfalls. I knew they would be perfect for some macro shots, but unfortunately I didn’t have access to my macro lens at the time. I was so happy to spot them again whilst on holiday in Malaysia this summer, in a butterfly farm in the Cameron Highlands. The light was perfect for creamy golden bokeh and rich vibrant colours so I whipped out my macro lens and spent a very happy half hour photographing them to my heart’s content. I haven’t really messed around with these because I didn’t need to; it’s all nature’s own grace and beauty.

More Malaysia plant life/street scenes to follow!

Emily

© Emily Hughes, 2018

 

unraveling

It’s World Mental Health Day today.

Here’s a poem I wrote, for anyone who has unraveled at the seams. For anyone who has had to sop up the mess of themselves and squish it back inside and stitch themselves back up and, well, carry on.

If you are struggling right now then please, go to the doctors. Please reach out to people. Please seek help where you can. Because these battles of the mind are the loneliest and the darkest types of battles, and it takes an army to fight them.

Emily

 

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© Emily Hughes, 2018

waterfall

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© Emily Hughes, 2018

retreat

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After a week on a writing retreat at the Hurst with Arvon I am feeling tired and exhilarated. So many thoughts and ideas spinning in my head. So many inspirational moments. So many wonderful, generous people.

There are countless benefits to a residential writing course and for each and every person the journey will be different; tailor made, if you like. But here is what I found: the freedom to retreat into myself and explore those spaces, the gaps, where the slices of light shine through. I found my voice, with gentle and insistent encouragement. I found that I had things to say with it. Things which are important. I found new friendships. And I laughed and sang and laughed some more, until tears rolled down my cheeks. Sometimes they were tears of happiness and sometimes it felt like there was something else being wrung out of me. Sometimes, I didn’t know the difference.

If you are thinking about doing a writing retreat I would highly recommend Arvon. Actually scrap that — don’t think, just book it! I promise you won’t regret it.

 

Emilyx

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