I’ve been meaning to drive to Alor Setar for a while, because Michelle lives there and also because I miss the highway. I didn’t really think the trip through. All I knew was that no one was stopping me and I had a car full of gas. I was too preoccupied with surviving the drive to Kedah to actually think about what to do there after saying hi to Michelle.
On the following morning after the shoot with Narmatha and Erneetha, I took off feeling really excited (20% scared). It was finally something new, and although I’ve been to Alor Setar twice already this trip just felt different. After separating in Sunway in November, my friends have been scattered all around the country. When I look at maps I know that they are contained somewhere in between the grids and lines, but it’s so abstract that it’s hard to believe they’re actually there, or that they exist at all. There’s always the “Well if you ever come to xxx state I’ll be here!” but it gets thrown around so much that it becomes something we say to reassure ourselves that it’s not the final goodbye, which then sinks into the background and blends with the noise. I needed to trace the roads from my own house to another state all the way to the front of my friend’s house gate, and see for myself that we do exist on the same plane of existence.
First 10km after the bridge, I felt like I could drive all the way to England. Then afterwards it just became repetitive and monotonous, and I started wondering if I was there yet.
Anyway I got lost in Michelle’s housing area circling rows and rows of identical houses looking for hers, until half an hour later I gave up and texted her for directions. It was very annoying because I had so wanted to turn up in front of her house. We went for lunch and then decided to do something about all that lush grass of Alor Setar! We didn’t plan to do a photoshoot but I had brought my camera for touristing around, plus I saw this cool Adidas-wannabe dress hanging in Michelle’s room. So it was decided that we were to shoot, and it turned out that I did drive all the way to Kedah for a photoshoot, which is something quite frivolous to think about.
By the time we reached her abandoned mansion (we like to think everything in Alor Setar belongs to her) it was a bundle of rubble and BEAUTIFUL TALL GRASS (THAT WE WERE SEARCHING FOR THE PREVIOUS DAY IN PENANG HILL) but sadly the cloudy day had cleared up. It became so hot that we stayed in the car delaying the shoot a bit longer and finally set out with a red umbrella. We walked around a bit with the sun beating down our necks and these nasty tall plants scratching our legs. Finally we ran back to the car and put the air-cond to the fourth notch. The weather was periodically cloudy, and during the rare moments when the light was nice and diffused, we sprang out from the car to shoot. But the sweltering heat and harsh sunlight prevailed, so we ran back to the car and drove away to another location.
By then it was getting quite late, so we hurried and drove back home to grab a chair, then went back to Location #2. It was also starting to rain. We wanted to try out some levitating shots so we had Michelle balancing on the IKEA stool and pretending to fly, but the photos turned out so comically terrible I don’t think they’ll do any of us any favour.
Now I really had to leave, so we literally raced back to Michelle’s house, dumped everything into the house and hugged goodbye before I was on the road again, gone as soon as I came.