Recently, I received an exciting call from my boss with news that we had been invited to volunteer with the renowned organization Make Life Skate Life for a special project in Laos. Our team was thrilled and ready to embark on this adventure. Although we initially planned to be a group of four, a passport renewal issue unfortunately left Shake Dai behind. However, we were determined to make the most of our time in Laos and create lasting memories.
Arrival and Meeting the Volunteers
We boarded a midnight flight, transited through Bangkok, and arrived in Laos’ capital, Vientiane, by mid-day. Sam, one of the local volunteers, kindly picked us up and took us to our hotel before heading straight to the project site. There, we met an incredible group of volunteers, including Tom, Wade, Kjell, Dieter, Elijah, the OG Arne, Uncle Alan, Philip, and Sam himself. This diverse and dedicated team set the stage for an unforgettable experience.
Building the Skatepark
Our first day on the project site was filled with hard work and determination. We made significant progress, pouring concrete for approximately 15% of the park. The following day, we achieved another 20% completion. To our delight, Paul, Tom’s brother and a new volunteer, joined us, adding to the camaraderie and commitment. Tom, who had skateboarded 4,200km from Melbourne to Cairns to raise funds for the Laos project, proved to be an inspiration as we worked together to finish the park in just one week.
After completing the skatepark, we took some time to explore the beautiful town of Vangvieng. We indulged in the local cuisine, enjoyed the stunning Blue Lagoon, and even went tubing, an activity that turned into a lively party thanks to the Route One crew who joined us. Laos, known for its vibrant party scene, offered an abundance of beers and fantastic food. Though Shake Dai was missed dearly for his beer-loving spirit and vast knowledge, we celebrated in his honor.
The Opening and Farewell
The much-anticipated opening day of the park arrived on February 5th. We spent the entire day skating and witnessing the remarkable skills of the Route One Crew. Musical performances by our talented friends, including Monica, added an extra layer of excitement. The day was filled with non-stop beers and a delightful BBQ. Exhausted but fulfilled, we ended the day with smiles on our faces. The following morning, we bid farewell to Laos after attending an early morning blessing ceremony, packing our belongings, and making our way back to the airport.
Gratitude and Reflection
In conclusion, I extend my deepest gratitude to 100 Ramps, Holystoked, and Make Life Skate Life for providing us with this incredible opportunity. Thanks to the supportive locals and the warm nickname they bestowed upon me (Chicken), our journey in Laos was unforgettable. Special thanks go to Amy Ram from Route One for her invaluable contributions. The skatepark, spanning approximately 370m² and 60m³, became a symbol of collaboration, passion, and the lasting memories we created together.
Khopchai! (Thank you!)