Bangkok Almost Ready to Skate

In Thailand, action sports are very popular on TV. News and TV and various media outlets of Thailand love to use the image of skateboarding to sell their product. You would think that there is a skateboard in every household, but unfortunately that is not the case. You see, skateboarding is a very time-consuming activity that takes patience and the willingness to “fail and fail until you succeed”. And it hurts also. There are many injuries that can occur from skateboarding, but this does not stop the youth of Thailand from picking up a board and learning to ollie. Weather would be a factor but for those of us who are dedicated to skateboarding, a little rain isn’t enough to make us call it a day.

While walking down the street in Bangkok, you probably won’t see a skateboarder buzz past you on his skateboard, but if you do, it’s usually a rare sight and you will be compelled to stare at them. Even if you come from the USA, Europe, or Australia, countries where skateboarding is popular, a person rolling down the Bangkok street on a skateboard is not a common sight and you tend to stare. I know…. I’m one of the guys who roll down the sidewalk on my skateboard, and I’m sure you’ve stared at me. Maybe not me, most likely my friends has been one of the guys rolling down Sukhumvit sidewalk.

But where are we rolling to? Obviously you wouldn’t think that we would use a skateboard as a form of transportation to go walk the malls. Well most chances are that we are on the way to a skatepark. “Hold on a second…there are skateparks in Thailand?” Well yes there are. Although they are not at the same level and quality as the skateparks in the west, they are enough for skateboarders to have fun and refine their skills upon. Skateparks are not as common in Thailand as they are in the US, and a lot of times they are really hidden from public view, so even for skateboarders here, the location of a skatepark is usually spread through word-of-mouth and (for the technological savvy) Google maps. Although there are many small DIY-style mini-skateparks located randomly in various parking lots and empty spaces, here I will mention the most important and impacting skateparks in Bangkok.

Where to Skateboard in Bangkok

The first skatepark that many beginning skateboarders go to, and where many visiting skateboarders from foreign countries visit, is known simply as “Queens Park Skatepark”. Although it’s not big at all and not the best, what makes this skatepark the most well known is the ease of access. Located just 100 meters from Phrom Phong BTS station inside Benchasiri Park right in between Emporium mall and Imperial Queens Park Hotel, this skatepark is the most easily accessible skatepark in Bangkok. It is usually the first place that a lot of people (of all skill levels) skate in Thailand.

There is a second skatepark in Bangkok that is up to international standards with huge ramps and handrails, where frequently skateboarding competitions are held and professional skateboarders from the West come to do Demos. This park is known unofficially as Hua Mak Skatepark. Located right in the middle of the Rajamangala Stadium complex, this skatepark is huge enough to also accommodate BMX bikes also. This is a place where intermediate and advanced skateboarders go to hone their skills even more with bigger obstacles for them to familiarize themselves on. Although this park is not easy to locate, access is completely free of charge. With a huge warehouse-sized roof over the park and flood prevention barriers, this is the park to go skate when its pouring rain in Bangkok.

In the middle of 2015, a new skatepark was opened on the far outskirts of Bangkok inside the Rangsit campus of Thammasat University. Known officially as “Thammasat X-Treme Plaza”, it is the first concrete skatepark in Thailand that is actually up to international standards. This skatepark is also for the more skilled skateboarders, although beginners will also be able to find a friendlier obstacle that they can tackle, and it will help them build confidence to progress their skills. Although there is no roof to cover it, the skatepark is made out of concrete which will definitely help with the longevity of it, since it’s hard for weather to affect concrete. This park is fairly new, and it seems that it will be here to stay.

Facebook: X-Treme Plaza

And there is always the streets and various parking lots of malls and grocery stores. Personally I don’t live near any of the aforementioned skateparks. Most evenings I usually tend to go skate at the empty parking lot of the local Tesco Lotus grocery store and save the big skateparks for the weekends.

With the skateparks mentioned, now people may be wondering where they can buy a skateboard. Well honestly a proper quality skateboard can be purchased at malls in Thailand, mentioned here are the skateshops that support skateboarding in Thailand and are helping it grow and evolve.

Skateshops in Bangkok

The first ever local skateboard brand in Thailand is known as “Preduce”. Although they were not the first shop to sell skateboards, they were the first guys to start their own skateboard brand here in Thailand, which also happened to be the first Thai skateboard brand. Before Preduce, there were only big-name skateboard brands available, and at exorbitant prices also. In 2003, Nung Arthit and, later on, Swiss friend and fellow skateboarder Simon Pellaux, started the brand Preduce. In 2006, they opened their first shop in Siam Square soi 1 (and it’s still there at the same location), they have only been growing ever since. Preduce, as a company, supports and gives back to Thai skateboarding by hosting competitions, giving local artists a name, being responsible for many of the professional skateboard teams visiting Thailand in the past decade. They have a professional sponsored team consisting of Thai locals such as Geng Jakkarin, Tao Kitpullap, Lert Sae-li, Suriyan Kanlaya, and they keep an eye out for up and coming young skateboarders who may become a professional skateboarder one day. They have also inspired many people to start their own skateboard brands and they support and help other shops rather than see them as competition for business. Today, many skateboarders in the USA and Europe know and travel to skate in Bangkok, and it’s very much thanks to the guys at Preduce.

Another three Thai skateboard brands that have started up in recent years are known as “Again Skateboards”, “Tricket Skateboards”, and “Switch Skateboards”. Respectfully these brands started as a group of local Thai friends who skated together, and then went off to start their own skateshops and, subsequently, skateboard brand. These three shops/brands are actually brother brands to each other, so essentially they are the same company under different names. Again is owned by Suriya (Beer), Tricket is owned by Jirawat Pao-In, and Switch is owned by Weearyut (Nut) Eksirasuwan. While not that well known to the rest of the world, these three brands are very popular among local Thai skateboarders, and they are generally seen as the same brand, just with different names.

The newest skateboard brand to have started up in Thailand is known as “Dreg Skateboards”. This company just started in 2013 and it has hit it big and fast. While they do not have a shop, this brand’s skateboard decks can be found at various skateshops in Bangkok. Currently they are in their early stages, but they have the support of people and soon they will be opening a shop.

An honorable mention that I want to give to is neither a skatepark nor a skateshop, but it is actually a restaurant/bar known simply as “Skate Cafe”. Located at Coco Walk right by Ratchathewi BTS station, this is the first skateboarding-themed bar and cafe in Bangkok. There is a mini-ramp on the premises that you can skate if you have the skills to show off, or if you just want to have a drink and watch some skaters skate the mini-ramp, you are more than welcome to. The owners of this bar are also skilled skateboarders so there’s a chance that you may see P’Vor (Vorapong Woraputhirunmas) shredding the mini-ramp himself.

Skateboarding in Thailand has evolved so much over the past two decades. Where it once was a foreign activity that not many Thai people dared participate in, it has now established itself in Thailand and the only thing that skateboarding can do in Thailand is grow and evolve, and there’s no signs of slowing down. The days of it being rare to see a skateboarder rolling down the sidewalk in Bangkok are becoming less and less as the number of skateboarders in Thailand is steadily growing.

Written by Rungrot (Roger) O’Connell

 

 

 

 

 

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