Yangon: With their indie hairstyles, tattoos and ripped jeans, Yangon’s teenage skaters look like their counterparts anywhere in the world and — like their peers — they struggle to find somewhere to skate.
The city’s one dedicated skate park was bulldozed a few years ago without explanation, leaving the small but committed group of skaters to improvise with a battered tyre, a chipped wooden ramp and a rail.
But the group — in their teens or early 20s — say they are desperate for a proper space to hone their skills without getting in the way of pedestrians and shop owners.
“We want to have an international standard skate park in Yangon, for skaters from across the country to visit,” says Ko Thit, his tattoos stretching out from beneath a vest.
Yangon’s skaters have been unexpected beneficiaries of Myanmar’s cascade of political and economic reforms, with freer access to foreign websites keeping them up-to-date with skater fashion and the latest skateboarding videos.
At the same time the roll-back of sanctions has raised the possibility of boards being imported, while the expected introduction of online payments may soon allow them to buy skating paraphernalia from overseas.
As they ollie, kick-flip and grind into the evening, Yangon’s skaters say whatever the outcome, nothing will change their dedication to skateboarding.
“You can say it is an art… everything is beautiful here,” says Pi Oo Narzi.
“Whatever happens, I will continue.”