What’s it like skating in China? Well, it’s varies city to city, but if you want to get a general feel, visit your nearest Chinatown, find the most chaotic and smelly street you can, and then imagine skating a perfect granite ledge somewhere around there while steadily inhaling a light layer of grey smog.
What’s it like going on tour with some of the best skaters in the world through China, South Korea, and Hong Kong? It’s kind of like going on an extended family trip, but instead of your drunk uncle, you’ve got Frank Gerwer, and instead of your quiet cousins, you’ve got an am. It’s fun and exhausting, but a wondrous life to lead for sure.
If that isn’t a clear enough picture, and these photos don’t do enough to fill in the blanks, you can check out “Full Service”, the little video we put out documenting our trip with Cons this past October.
Throughout the trip Jake always had an journal or a book close by. At skate spots and in the bus he would constantly be sketching out stuff on this notepad that never left his side. He also seemed to be one of the more interested skaters in the culture of each city we visited. At the demos, I would catch him talking to locals about the scene, and he even had a Chinese expression/language book. He found this random pair of bro/cop glasses lying around a spot in Shanghai, and he put them on and did his best tough guy impression to cover up his artistic predilections.
We were at this massive wall-ride struggling to get the speed to make it to the top when Al Davis magically rolls up to the spot with a full-blown motocross bike. A few different folks played the part of driver, but Al, who was just a guest for the tour, was the best for the task – revving it up and gunning it with that fearless glint in his eye. Not sure why this guy is not on the Cons team, because he should be.
On the way up to this spot there were a bunch of these mini guard rails. Of course I pestered Louie to jump on ’em. Before I came on this trip I still thought of Louie as the brace-face kid from Extremely Sorry. Turns out he’s 21 now, can skate basically anything/everything, is down to go on adventures, and is super humble somehow. He’s kinda like the cool younger brother you wish you had.
This spot is in Macau – which was described to me as “the Las Vegas of China.” Everywhere we went there were big casinos, resorts, hotels, and anything a man with a dirty mind could get himself into. On the boat ride over, some drunk tourist was telling me about a brothel where the girls are “straight 10s, and you just order them up like you would order dishes at a restaurant. They walk around like on a catwalk and you just pick them out.”
Locals in Hong Kong hanging at what might possibly be the best skatepark ever. They should have one of these parks in every city.
As expected, Frank was pretty much the designated entertainment for the whole trip, cracking jokes, dancing, and masterminding “Cocktalk” – a fake radio station dedicated 100% to dick discussion. This show would go on for entire bus rides. I was Frank’s roommate throughout the trip, and can attest that he can riff for days. Each time we’d get to a new hotel, he’d switch on the TV and start flicking through channels, quipping hilarious commentary on the spot before we’d fall asleep to the quiet buzz of Chinese game shows.
Aaron showing off his very serious tattoo collection.
Zered getting a picture perfect switch backside tailslide at another perfect marble spot. Zered was one of “Cocktalks” main contributors and callers.
We rolled up to this little rest stop for drinks, and this dude just kept pointing at my board. Since I don’t speak Chinese, I grunted in a “me not understand” type way and put my hands up. Then he pulled whatever this magazine is out of the shelf. For whatever reason he doesn’t look very happy to try and sell it to me.
You don’t get spots much more scenic than this. #Jkjhnsn with a switch wallride to warm it up.
Mike Anderson ups the ante. I went to a Chinese black market with him to go and buy bootleg shit. I expected him to be looking at phones and lighters and other “man stuff,” but instead he comes walking back smiling with a big bag of dolls from the movie “Frozen.” I thought he was kidding at first, but then I found out that he’s a father. Best dad award right here. Kids first.
Hung out a lot with this guy, Mr. Raemers, who is pretty good at steadily producing skate tricks while also steadily drinking beers. Near the end of the tour, before a demo or before a spot, he’d hit the local shop and crack a tallboy, always saying something like, “Warmup in a can, mate!”
Three very on-trend Koreans at the demo in Seoul. Dime, Palace, Bronze – the holy trinity of the Cool Core Guy.
This demo we did in Seoul, South Korea was the smallest one out of all of them, but it seemed like it had some of the most “hardcore” (for lack of a better word) skaters. There also was a surprising amount of chicks that skated and had boards. I liked this girl’s getup on the left – really feeling the prison uniform style – so I had to catch a flick.
This picture was taken probably around 3 AM in Seoul. We are outside of some club where one of the homies hooked up a bottle and a table. Of course, everyone got drunk and lost each other inside, and since you can drink on the streets it ended up being more fun hanging outside the club. Louie stole a bottle from the table and just walked outside with it where we set up our own mini-club around some dude’s Bentley which Zered is using as a foot rest.
Since there were so many people on this tour, the schedule was pretty set in stone. It would pretty much go like this: 3 days per city. One day to travel there, one day to skate local spots and film, and one day to do the demo and skate more spots. Each day we’d meet in the lobby of the hotel around 9 AM, get a group breakfast, then get in the bus where the tour guide would take us to spots until it got dark out. Following this schedule could get tiring at times for sure, which is why people would sometimes break out and take some time for themselves at the spot. Here’s Jake taking a quick nap.
Caught Ben with a nice one here. The iPhone actually worked pretty well for skate tricks because of the sequence feature, which I didn’t really even know about until a week before the tour. Just hold down the photo button and you get 10 photos a second, that’s magazine quality speed! Really good for skating and surprising quality. iPhone 6 for the win!
Driving into Shanghai from the airport was an eye opener. It was about an hour drive to our hotel, and the scenery was just massive building after building after building – all identical. It was like something you would see in “The Matrix,” or how you would build rows of cookie cutter buildings in Sim City. China has so much infrastructure, and it just keeps growing, despite having full cities that are practically abandoned. Would love to do a skate video filmed entirely in one of these ghost towns, sponsors, hit us up!