The question can often arise of how a skateboard or longboard scene is formed along side the limitations imposing of an area. Within North America, we are mostly struggling with the sports social, political and legal acceptance. You would think that this is the sole issue everywhere you go, but being in South East Asia, there is a sure culture shock of how a skate community is formed. The limitations down here are in fact a polar opposite of what we struggle with in most parts of the world. Socially, the sport is welcomed with open arms. On a political level, there is a lot of support for youth activity and funding is provided to build facilities for a variety of sports including skateparks.
You are rarely ever kicked out of a spot for riding, cops and pedestrians will in fact stand by to watch and encourage your session. But the limitations here can stretch to the terrain. In Kuala Lumpur, the nations financial capital and epicenter of the longboard scene has an abundance of mind-blowing hills, but virtually no possibility to commute on a skateboard. With close to no sidewalks, districts separated by highways, unimaginable traffic and erratic drivers, a longboarder does not get into the sport initially by commuting, which is how many of us got our feet wet. A longboarder does not have the privilege here to learn the basics on a bike path, calm residential road or do a long distance push. Most are thrown into the sport by being forced to ride the gargantuan hills which are plastered with speed bumps to control the huge street racing scene. This brings less riders into the culture but those who are able to dip their toe into the sport come out with the awareness and skill to handle the harshest of longboard environments.
Because of this daytime limitation to ride with traffic, we most often ride at night from 2-6am, but we decided one afternoon to get some day shots. With a fierce afternoon of weaving through sketchy traffic and early grabbing speed bumps at 50k, Leo and Tim got into a spill causing tim to sit bedridden and wheelchair bound for over a week as his torn back muscles heal. With this, we decided to take some time off our skateboard to travel around and have some apre-longboard fun. We went into Singapore to hit up universal studios and a few other amusement parks where we used Tim’s crippled state to get into the front of all the lines threw the handicapped access where we almost felt bad…but Didn’t. We managed to find a public downhill luge track, similar to the one in Mt Trenblant Quebec, which you may remember Mat k skating from the cover issue of Skate Slate in their late summer issue. Even though we could not skate the epicly winding and perfectly paved track, we charged it in our little luges in regular draft formation, fiercely battling each other to be the first one down.
After spending some time in Singapore and seeing first hand its difference from Malaysia we noticed a huge contrast. Only 4 hours away from KL, and you feel like your are in an entirely different continent. Not only does it urbanely resemble North America, but at a glance it is a street skating paradise. We were soon shocked to hear some detrimental news….It is illegal To skateboard in Singapore. Not just a by-law, but a criminal offense. This astonished us as there is a pretty solid longboard scene in Singapore. But how could a culture and community grow in an environment where the sport is not only socially rejected but legally banned. Stay tuned for our future blog posts to hear about the story of a scene built underground with local interviews and community tales.
With Tim Practically healed, We ventured back to the jungle to skate what we could find in the untouched environment of Janda Baik. With an open mind, we meandered through the streets looking for anything to shred. In no time at all our session exploded as all the guys creatively adapted to the unusual terrain and environment. We ducked into alleys, dodging mopeds taking the back streets of this little mountain village. Locals crowded, and kids got exited. Old ladies held traffic for us, and business owners let us ollie of their deck into the streets. Longboarding inspired the whole community in the area to get engaged with us as we showed them how to turn their everyday environment into a play ground. This has to be one of the most precious experiences in traveling to remote areas for a skate trip. Longboarding can be a mode of communication with people you would have never come in contact with or possibly inspire, simply due to the fact that they are in amazement of how we are able to transform their everyday environment into a creative atmosphere.
With our 20 Landyachtz completes, and 8 Roarocket Press Kits finally arriving, our first clinic will take place on Dec 1st, so stay tuned to see how we can transform the perspective of some kids in Malaysia’s Capital, Kuala Lumpur.
This very moment I am sitting outside in the jungle getting eaten alive by malaria infested mosquitos as I squat next to a building for Wi-Fi to speak to all of you, so on that note, till next time Thane Kittens.