Malaysia - Skateparks of the Peninsula

Posted on January 14, 2015

Skateparks were scarce during the first four months of my travels. Even when a city did have one, chances were it wasn't up to par with what I was used to back home (poor me, right?). Thus, I was thrilled to find that not only are skateparks relatively common in Malaysia, there are some really fun ones to boot! As a result, I spent more time skateboarding in my month on the peninsula than I did anywhere previously. To aid any wandering skateboarder who might happen upon my blog, I've compiled a list of all the parks I visited. It is by no means comprehensive, but provides a rough overview of what one can expect when traveling to the country, board in tow.

Penang

Despite reportedly having two skateparks on its premises, the island of Penang seems to be void of a living breathing skateboarding population. My only encounter with another supposed skateboarder occurred as I was walking alongside an eight lane divided highway, having just nearly stepped on the rotting corpse of what at the time was the largest lizard I had ever seen (later that day I would see a living version of a similar size, then the next day I would nearly run over an even larger one at the skatepark). The boarder in question pulled his moped up alongside me, apparently unfazed by the lizard carcass or the traffic whizzing by us, and without once removing the cigarette from his mouth, asked where I was from and where I was heading, then informed me that he too "plays skateboard" and that there was a skatepark close by. I faked surprise, as I was not wandering aimlessly as I had told him, but rather in search of the very skatepark he mentioned. He offered to give me a ride there on the back of his moped, but I politely declined not so much because he was a stranger, but rather because I had never (and still never have) ridden on the front, middle, or back of a motor scooter. Fearing that I might meet a similar fate to that of the aforementioned reptile, I inquired as to the whereabouts of the park and said I might check it out after I finished walk to nowhere in particular.

I never found it.

The apparent lack of skateboarders on the island is not to say that the one park I was able to locate is completely lifeless. There are certainly plenty of monkeys present, who occasionally frolic adorably on the quarterpipes and banks, but more often hang around on the decks picking each others' rear ends. Of course, none of this gives you any idea of what the park is like to ride a skateboard in. In truth, it is not particularly good. There are a few flat rails that are really fun, though, and the steep and wide quarter pipes did put a smile on my face. The flora and fauna surrounding the park are reason enough to go there, and the wacky, sometimes illogical layout and construction are, surprisingly, reason enough to stay.

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Ipoh

It is somewhat of a stretch to use the word "park" in the description of Ipoh's public skateboarding facilities. The "park" consists of a concrete miniramp, maybe 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide, set in the grass next to a circular ribbon of pavement where a broken concrete bench has been turned into a makeshift ledge. I didn't get a chance to skate either due to inclement weather, but when I feel the urge to poke fun at the rather measly offering, I am reminded of the countless towns and cities in the USA that fail to provide even such a small modicum of acknowledgement to the skateboarders in their vicinity. So while it may sound like a cliche, it is true that this miniramp and accompanying bench are better than nothing. There is also a small DIY project in the city, but that's all I'll mention about it lest one of my countless readers "blow up the spot" as the saying goes.

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Kuala Lumpur Metro Area

Putrajaya Challenge Park

This park holds the somewhat meaningless distinction of being the first Asian skatepark I ever skated. In retrospect I chose well. It is large, smooth, and full of lines. I will say that for a park of its size, it is lacking in the coping department. Even in the areas with transition, most of the features are closer to banks than quarter pipes, which is great if you're really into ollieing or just pumping around, but I like to get a grind in every now and again, and on numerous occasions I zoomed eagerly through a corner only to find more of the same banked landscape on the other side. A little anti-climactic if you ask me. Of course, my assessment is to be taken with a grain of salt as, after the half hour train ride and hour of pushing that it took to get there, the typical monsoon season afternoon rains set in like clockwork, and cut my fun short.

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Shah Alam Extreme Park

I successfully skated the Shah Alam Extreme park two out of the four times I ventured there. Like Putrajaya, there is a bit of a trek involved in getting to the park, and in the time the journey takes, distant storm clouds can move in and wash away any hope of skateboarding that day. Though not an especially arduous trip, one must ride the KTM Kommuter train from Kl Sentral Station about 10 stops out of the city before unloading and reloading into a taxi for another ten minute ride. This, of course, is provided the taxi driver knows where they are going, and doesn't make a wrong turn, only to stop and drive a quarter mile in reverse against the wishes of the now oncoming traffic. This was the case during trip number 2 to Shah Alam. Had this happened back home, I would have been beside myself with fear, but being in another country, I chalked it up as just something drivers there do. I was later informed that his actions were just as outlandish there as they would be anywhere else. The park is a bit rough in spots, but the three foot bowl with spine is a blast to cruise around, as are all the features along the outskirts of the park. Provided you can make it there before the daily downpour, this is my top pick for Kuala Lumpur skateparks.

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Petaling Jaya

Though not the most outstanding that The Kuala Lumpur Metro Area has to offer, Petaling Jaya is perhaps the most easily accessible from the city center. The old sheet metal ramps seem to be lacking proper support in places, and bellow as if being painfully assaulted when ridden. This is not to say that the park isn't any fun, though. There is a small flybox that is a blast to float over, a bunch of rails and boxes to mess around on, and all the kids there are stoked to meet somebody from out of town. There is also a really good Nasi Kandar restaurant right around the corner; an incentive with the potential to draw me to any park regardless of quality.

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Mont Kiara

With two really fun concrete parks within a reasonable distance, one would think Kuala Lumpur's expert skateboarders might frequent those rather than the back and forth Skatepark-of-Tampa-esque Mont Kiara Skatepark. The fact that they do not says something about the type of skating that is popular in the country (and seemingly everywhere in the world outside the United States). The majority of skateboarders of a certain skill level are far more interested in rail and ledge tricks than transition ones, which works in my favor, because it leaves all that other stuff empty for me. Mont Kiara is the place where all the contests take place, and all the demos happen when pro teams come to town. The array of ledges, rails, banks, and quarter pipes yield countless opportunities for tricks if you've got them - which many of the skaters there do.

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Red Bull DIY

Unlike the DIY park I stumbled upon in Ipoh, I have no reservations in discussing the Red Bull DIY park in Kuala Lumpur. The idea of a DIY park funded by a zillion dollar company like Red Bull seems a bit contradictory, but it guess the notion is kinda cool. Personally, I think It would have made a lot more sense and would have been a lot more generous if they had just sprung to have a park built rather than saying "here's some money, build one for yourselves." Abandoned rather quickly after its inception, all that remain are a couple ledges and a bank with coping set on a patch of rough concrete, the sound of which is drowned out by the three growling German shepherds lunging at the fence surrounding the adjacent mansion.

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