Thai Kids Are Alright
- Documentary DP
- News Shooter / Video Journalist
- Creative Director
- Digital Content Creator
In "the land of smiles", surgical masks slung from ear to ear provide a thin curtain veiling the true expressions on the faces of Thai citizens. In a monarchy where anything short of total adoration of the royal family is considered abominable, one mask has ironically replaced another, providing a solemn, subtle sense of collective relief for those less than fanatical about the new reigning king.
On a dock of the Chao Phraya river, only kilometers from Old City where grim photos of bodies laid sprawled on the streets have been cropping up on social media, 37 year-old Yuvol Schwok has only one thing on his mind: building. The more the world falls apart, the more scraps he has at his disposal. And both are happening in a competing blur.
His first project was The Overstay, perhaps Bangkok's most infamous hostel, and legendary punk rock hangout. Next he built a boat, retrofitting an old barge with salvaged lumber. Today he is drilling the last bits of Masonite onto a half pipe, which he will hoist onto the deck of his vessel only hours before skaters from around the country will descend upon his makeshift floating skate park to compete in a best trick competition.
As the sun sets, I scurry on deck just as the boat is pushing off, literally leaping over the growing gap of water with camera in one hand and the other clutched in the meaty paw of a crewman, who swings me on board with his tree trunk sized arm like a baby monkey.
I arrive to find around 75, otherwise cool conscious full grown adults, acting like kids who had totally lost their minds over the excitement of having a floating skate park as their personal playground. It was as if even the most cynical among us were Cinderellas for the night, and this was the pumpkin carriage.
Maybe it was the 'magic' balloons on tap, or the fumes spewing from the diesel engine, but with the twilight cityscape bobbing along as a backdrop, I'd venture to say that what I witnessed that night was nothing short of the spirit of Thai youth incarnate.
Skateboarding is simultaneously about destroying and creating. You destroy concrete ledges and rails, you destroy your own body, but you create new lines, entirely new ways of seeing and interacting with the otherwise static and lifeless objects of our mundane surroundings.
On this night, the world had already been destroyed. It only took a few to push off, drop in, and create a new one, if only for a few blissful hours.
March 22, 2021