Longboarding is more than a sport. Longboarding builds bridges between cultures. Everyone is welcome in the community. Especially on the Indonesian island of Lombok. There is a skate crew that makes every day unforgettable – even if a day without skating is up on the agenda.
This is not my first time in Lombok. I’m sure this won’t be the last. I know that even before I arrive in Lombok. The anticipation to explore the Indonesian island with the local skate crew is enormous. During one week, every day we skate at a different spot on the island. #lombokskatetripvol3 is the event called. Participants can expect more than narrow roads in left-hand traffic, the view of deserted beaches and sweating in the blazing sun. This sport provides access to a culture that is not accessible to normal tourists.
Between adrenaline and godliness
One afternoon after a 90 min drive we arrive at the spot, the sun is just burning. We still have to wait with skating, was Ozzie’s comment as we got out. Ozzie is the longboar pioneer of the island and one of the promoters of the event. Sure, I guess nobody wants to skate in this heat. But that is not the reason. Some of the boys are still praying, is the explanation. Most of the Indonesian skaters are Muslims, some more eager, some less. Thus we Westerners become familiar with a religion and culture, in which the skaters disappear before the meal or during a skate session, change the skate clothes for a sarong (wrap skirt), wash their feet and hands and kneel in the shelter of a nearby little house for prayer. I am surprised at how naturally the local residents provide them with clothing and a place for prayer. Less surprised I am at the wide open eyes and filming smartphones of the children, housewives and workers, in front of whose house we skate. This afternoon, they can watch an unforgettable spectacle. I now know that people in rural areas are more likely to have a smartphone than a toilet. For some of them it might be the first time they see a white person in real. Of course it is even more memorable if this white person is a skating woman.
In such moments I am glad that I can already speak a few words of Indonesian. Outside the tourist resort of Senggigi, where our home base and Ozzies cottage is, only few people speak English. With a few words I can immediately establish a relationship, score points with sympathy and soon smile with a stranger into a selfie camera. My Indonesian also helps me to ask for fruit and to bargain about the price in a small village in the middle of nowhere. While the locals have no problem eating rice with anything three times a day, I crave for a fresh pineapple, dragon or other exotic fruit. After all, I don’t think I can get any cheaper and tastier fruit than there.
There are women in longboarding
I have written about the boys above. In fact, there is only one woman among the 20 local skaters.Ocha lives and skates in Bandung near the Indonesian capital Jakarta and is in charge of the Longboard Girls Crew Indonesia. This is her third skate trip in Lombok. Also in her hometown she is usually the only woman who does downhill longboarding. Her female longboard friends prefer longboard dancing – just like the few women in Lombok who love board on four wheels. Dancing is more about tricks like step sequences or pirouettes on the board than about speed and sliding. The awesome thing about longboarding is that everyone is welcome, everyone is part of the community, whether in Indonesia, Switzerland or anywhere else. No matter what age, gender, level, religion, culture, language, skin colour or favourite food – all belong to the longboard family, because this sport unites us, builds bridges and makes possible unforgettable moments and experiences. On and off the board. One highlight of this year’s skate trip is the trip to the Sendang Gile waterfall. Together we climb up hill and down dale, wade through the knee-deep water and sing hits from the radio charts until we finally arrive at the waterfall and splash in the water. What should never be missing: another photo for the family album – or for Facebook and Instagram.
Skate equipment: Sharing is Caring
Most of the skate equipment of the local crew is second hand, given by a longboarder at another trip, or from donations from Europe. I recognize the gloves I gave to a longboarder at my last stay there. I mean, how could Indonesians buy wheels or gloves for 70 dollars if their monthly income is 100 dollars? But the skaters don’t complain. They use the equipment until it falls to pieces completely. They share the gloves, helmets, wheels and other skate accessories. When someone gets new wheels, they give away their old ones. This time I am prepared for the local conditions and asked in my circle of friends for skate equipment. So two complete longboards, several sets of wheels, slide pucks, brake pads, bearings and trucks found a new owner in Lombok. At this point a big thank you to everyone who gave me skate stuff. If someone still has some things in the skatebox/bag that is no longer needed, I will gladly take it with me on my next trip to Indonesia.
Be part of #lombokskatetrip19
Small-minded people who attach great importance to punctuality and are unable to deal with chaos, they probably better don’t join the skate trip. To everyone else, I can only recommend the Lombok Skate Trip 2019. Not later than three days and everyone is in the «meeting point at 9 a.m. means departure at 11 a.m.»-mode and can watch the unorganized spectacle with amusement. I promise, the crew makes sure you will have a great time there.
Rarely have I met such warm and helpful people as the skate crews in Indonesia, especially in Lombok. I can only recommend the cultural exchange combined with skate adventures and hope to see some white faces in 2019. And those who don’t want to wait until the next trip can always contact the Lombok Longboard Riders.
In the first blog I tell you more about the skate spots in Lombok. And about sleeping in a hammock next to a skate bowl.