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.

powder puff dreams

I found this unusual flower on my trip to Sri Lanka where the hotel grounds were scattered with them. After some research I discovered they are from the tree ‘barringtonia racemosa’, otherwise known as the ‘powder puff tree’. They really do look like exquisite little powder puffs – dreamy, light and graceful. I love the way the festive shocks of vibrant pink and gold contrast against the creamy white strands. They look so elegant and otherworldly – like floating sea anemones, or delicately unravelling strands of silk – against the rustic earthy- grey concrete wall. I overlaid textures of crumbling Sri Lankan walls to the images to give added character.

  pink2  breathe, 2014

pink1dream, 2014

pink3dazzle, 2014

pink4desire, 2014

© images and words Emily Hughes, 2015

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