Watch ‘Meet the Stans’ Visualtraveling skate feature – Caught in the Crossfire
As promised two week's ago, Patrik Wallner returns with another incredible, full- length visual traveling skateboarding feature titled 'Meet the. Skate video 'Meet The Stans' follows the Silk Road through Central Asia. Patrik Wallner has been running amok for the last decade. . that we were planning to film a skate-umentary called Meet The Stans ().
In the end we captured a minute and a half of skateboarding, which I am pretty proud of regarding the circumstances. Thanks to these young guys who have fought the Taliban a decade ago and gone through so much in their lifetime, they have made it possible.
You guys had a meeting with Atta Muhammad Nur, the governor of the Bahk Province of Afghanistan, and put on a demo for him and his troops. What did you discuss with him, and what were you thinking during your meeting?
Meeting Atta Muhammad Nur was pretty bizarre.
He seemed calm, nice and had a cool manner. At first, he was curious about what we were doing in Afghanhistan. He later told us that he wanted to build more skate parks around the country for kids. Having a new activity would take the attention away from the civil war and terror.
Were you ever in a situation where you thought you were going to die? Trying to fall asleep in a Afghani hotel room where people would see us come in and out of for a couple days was scary.
Meet The Stans
On the last night, I went to bed thinking about how close my bed was from the door and wondered If they put a bomb in the hallway, whether I would die from the blast or from shrapnel, etc. I guess it was just paranoia in the end, but it could have happened. There were bombs going off while we were there. We just really felt comfortable to the point where Kenny was chilling one night in only boxers, which is pretty rude in Afghanistan revealing your skin in public.
So yeah, I think in Afghanistan I was afraid for my life, but luckily nothing bad happened.
Visualtraveling - 'Meet The Stans' (Trailer) on Gnartifact
Overall, we have been pretty lucky. Our Thai mate, Geng Jakkarin took a hard slam in the middle of nowhere in Myanmar and severely dislocated his elbow. We had to put Geng in the back of a pick up truck and drive him an hour to the closest hospital which was facing black outs, where they could put him to sleep and break his elbow joints back to place.
Seeing your friend suffer in an alien environment is a horrible experience. How do you think visiting these nations, interacting with other cultures, and experiencing various cultural celebrations has affected your view of America and the world?
In North Korea, for example, you are not even allowed to speak to the people. When arguments arise I try to support America, but the unnecessary involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea for personal gain and the visualization of a global police officer is hard to defend.
Overall, by going to these places, I realized how spoiled and wasteful America is when it comes to wasting food and water, gasoline, and other resources which would be conserved in a more precious fashion in these third world countries.
If a spot is popular, it is almost certain to be blown out before long, which is one of the main reasons why skateboarders are always on the search for new terrain.
What responsibilities do you think we have to the locals when we visit their home and skate their spots? To some extent, we are modern day conquistadors, going eastwards seeking new treasures. But like Tim says, there is a certain way of approaching the situation. In the end, most of the locals want to see that new level of skateboarding, but still want to be able to skate the spot after you leave.
I think most of the countries we go to we leave a positive impression. The only spot that we kind of shut down for the locals was the white marble wave spot in Ho Chi Minh City. We bribed the cops with smokes, beers and then with money.
Afterwards they kept asking the locals for money to skate the spot.
- Watch ‘Meet the Stans’ Visualtraveling skate feature
- 'Meet the Stans'
- Meet The Stans
I still feel bad doing that, but the greed of skating this perfect spot took over. A lesson learned though, never mess it up for the locals that may skate there everyday. The majority of skate videos are primarily focused on the tricks skaters collect on trips, while your videos are focused around the whole trip experience.
Why have you decided format your videos like this and what do you want your viewers to take away from your films? I personally want the viewer to finish watching my skateumentaries and have a little understanding of the countries we traversed afterwards and maybe even spark some interest to look further into it, or even travel there.
I had someone e-mail me saying he had such a desire to go to Southeast Asia after watching one of my films that he just bought a ticket and moved there. I am just glad when I can capture more than just skateboarding and make a short story out of it. The Future In a previous interview, you mentioned that technology, specifically the Internet, is making it more difficult to produce non-commercialized videos, do you still feel this way? How do you envision the future of the skate-video?
Wow, you did some digging…haha. So if you add up all these points, it just made sense for me to start exploring further and to try and document it in a way I thought would be entertaining for skateboarders as well as non-skaters. How has skateboarding helped you break down barriers with people and cultures during your travels? I must say that skateboarding is looked upon with joy by most people.
The average backpacker has nothing interesting to offer to a local in a random country. Bringing skateboarding to these various nations breaks the ice right away. People can approach you, ask where you are from, what the deal is with skateboarding and generally start small talk while being entertained watching a dude jump down a ton of stairs over and over again.
From Macedonia to India to Mongolia to East Timor, you will always find someone complaining about their northern or eastern neighbour.
Meet the Stans: Skating the Silk Road
I guess it is a bit of a nationalistic trait caused by war or tension which occurred in the past. Otherwise people just want to live life peacefully and care for their family. We are all the same. Turkmenistan was hard because they blacklisted most of the Visualtraveling dudes after we tried to enter while openly telling them that we were planning to film a skate-umentary called Meet The Stans We tried a couple more times afterwards but got denied.
Somehow I fell in love with this nation that usually gets confused with the state in the US. The geography is just stunning. The cuisine is unique with oversized dumplings and cheese-filled bread known as Khachapuri. There are two breakaway states known as South Ossetia and Abkhazia which makes Georgia even more mysterious. The architecture is run down but in a beautiful way. It's just a beautiful country where the wine flows like water because it is actually the birthplace of wine, not France or other nations one might assume.
It was actually 'cold' dog soup cold soups are quite popular in the DPRKso pretty much the most depressing dish one could think of. That has happened but we somehow made spots skate able.
I remember Madagascar, Yemen, Djibouti really lacked spots, but Bangladesh had almost nothing. Why bother with the obscure places? Skateboarding is sometimes secondary. Our hunger is to explore these lesser-known nations and skateboarding is the tool that gives us a reason to go and make a film out of it. Which country surprised you with how many spots it had? Kazakhstan was a bit surprising. I knew they gained wealth from natural gas and an underground oil reservoir but the Soviet-style architecture with China-like plaza's really made it a playground for the team I was out there with in Did you ever foresee this happening when you started the Visualtraveling series?
I initially wanted us to do a clockwise trek around the Eurasian Peninsula. After a bit of research I knew that crossing from places like Myanmar to India or Pakistan to Iran are impossible or a nightmare to get visas for. So, that dream had to be put on the back burner.