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It’s been little more than a year since I last wrote my little report on the Malaysian longboarding scene for Silverfish Longboarding. Back then hosting an event where only 10 people showed up was considered an achievement in itself, and coming across a store that stocked one Sector 9 board was an awesome find. Looking back, it’s amazing how much the scene has picked up here and how far we’ve come since then. Before I go on, I know most of you reading now must be wondering, what on earth is Malaysia and where in the world is it?
We’re that country occupying the chunk of land just above Singapore and under Thailand. Just ask Martin Siegrist for directions the next time you see him. As some of you are probably aware, Martin had moved to Malaysia in 2009 for a little under a year, which was more than enough to get the kids star-struck and stoked. Everyone (or at least those who weren’t too intimidated by him) would start looking to him for skating tips and just for a chance to skate with an industry pro. Of course, his short stay here did a lot for the scene. I think it’s safe to say that a lot more people started to focus more on downhill skateboarding, and we also managed to get a government-approved downhill event going on at Bukit Putus. We even got the police to escort us up and down the hill! It’s pretty common for the cops to come down hard on skateboarders in general, but for some strange reason the cops seem to love us here! Maybe it’s the absence of any law on longboarding, or maybe they just don’t know what to think when they see a bunch of aliens going down a hill, but we have yet to have any nasty run-ins with the law.
Even the press seems to love longboarding – well, for now at least. While there have only been two news reports on longboarding here that I know of, longboarding in Malaysia has generated nothing but good press, and I think that’s a great start! A local newspaper covered the event at Bukit Putus, and a show on one of our local television channels dedicated one whole episode (that’s 30 whole minutes) to showcase longboarding.
Another big push to getting the scene growing was by our very own Mambu Longboards. Much to my amazement, by the time I returned back to Malaysia, we had gone from having to source all our gear overseas to having our own local longboard manufacturer. The good thing about the guys at Mambu is they make some affordable and reliable gear. This really made all the difference, because the prices of a complete North American or European-made longboard would literally put most people here on a diet of instant noodles until the next solar eclipse. A good majority of the riders here are teenagers still in high school, making it really difficult for them to fork out more than 1,000 Malaysian Ringgit for a setup, so Mambu boards are definitely the go-to boards for most of them starting out. And hey, not only does Mambu make boards, they host regular skate sessions over the weekends! Some pretty hands-on work from these guys!
We’ve also had a ton of support from probably the one and only local longboard retail store. Wheel Love skate shop has started carrying gear from Landyachtz, Abec 11, TimeShip Racing, Caliber trucks and others and has helped sponsor most of the longboarding events here in Malaysia. Shout out to the guys at Wheel Love for all the stoke!
We recently had two downhill outlaw races at Kuala Kubu Bahru (KKB) organized by Abdil Mahdzan and Gilbert Wong. The road at KKB was about an hour out of the city and was a two-lane highway than ran along a dam, making it a pretty scenic run. The first race got rained on, hard, which didn’t surprise much, as we’re in a tropical country. What we didn’t expect, of course, was for it to rain nonstop from 10 in the morning until 5 in the evening! That was too bad, because a good number of Singaporean riders turned up, making it a total of 24 riders that day. Because of the weather conditions, only the street luge races were run that day. In order to satisfy the craving of the downhill skateboarders, another KKB race was held only a couple of weeks later. Even though only 12 riders raced that day, the absence of rain, getting in a bunch of runs down and some tight racing were more than enough to satisfy the hunger.
A few other notable happenings worth mentioning: Having Troy and Huw from New Zealand pass through our land for their Skateventure trip through Southeast Asia and sharing some cold mac and cheese with them at Wheel Love while skating in the rain (yes, rain again!). We heard some really cool stories on their trip, mainly about their gnar spills and falls on crappy Malaysian roads. Some Malaysian roads are infamously known for their inconsistent surfaces, ankle-deep potholes and, of course, the crazy drivers on the roads. I have to admit it is a bit of a challenge scouting for rideable roads around the area.
In addition to the bad road surfaces, the heavy traffic makes it too dangerous to ride most roads. But when we do find good runs, they’re definitely keepers! Some of the best are Wang Kelian in Perlis (hairpins galore!), Bukit Tinggi (what Abdil and Martin would describe as “Maryhill on steroids”), Janda Baik (a good mellow run with jungle surroundings and the occasional pack of wild dogs giving chase) and Hulu Langat.
Despite what has been going on, the scene in Malaysia is still relatively low-key compared to our Southeast Asia counterparts like Philippines and Singapore, but with longboarding videos from all over the nation and groups popping out everywhere on Facebook, longboarding here is definitely heading in the right direction. So what can you expect to see happen in Malaysia in the not so distant future? Well, we’ve got kids putting themselves out there and pushing the limits, more skate sessions and events being organized every week, and outlaws, outlaws and more outlaws!
If you’re ever passing through this part of the world, be sure to drop by! Get in touch with the crew on our website, longboardingmalaysia. ning.com, say hi, and we promise to treat you well. Much stoke from everyone here in Malaysia! CW
Written By Ching Ling Ho