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Let's Buddhist! i-path in Thailand.

CHIANG MAI

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The flight to Thailand from the US is one of the longest you can make, only surpassed by traveling to Australia. It took close to 32 hours to get there; it's literally halfway around the world. With a tropical climate and close proximity to the equator, Thailand is hot year-round. We began our trip in the city of Chiang Mai, staying just outside the wall of the "old city." The wall is backed by a canal, and right now it's Songkran, the Thai New Year. One tradition of the Songkran celebration (aside from partying in the streets) is splashing people with water. Some of this water is regular old tap water, and some is mixed with freshly-melted blocks of ice, making it shockingly cold. But most of the water is dredged up from the aforementioned canal. Just make sure to puke if you get any in your mouth because it smells like a fish market and most likely carries e-coli.

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4:00 AM, UP ALL NIGHT

We're still in Chiang Mai on the second day of the tour when Fred and Kenny return from a crazy night that had started out at the pharmacy. Both of them are sporting black eyes, but Kenny really looks to have been at the end of a heavy fist. Turns out Fred, Dave, and Kenny were out roaming the streets and got separated. Kenny wandered into a random bar all by his lonesome, where he was soon after accused of trying to kiss someone's girlfriend. He denies the make-out, but since he's been blacked out since the trip began, I doubt the bouncers heard anything he said. The bouncers escorted him to an alley where the accusers were allowed to pretty much have their way with him. Fred found Kenny wandering the streets post-pummeling and, feeling bad that he wasn't there to help, punched himself in the face in an act of solidarity. I'm going to presume it was about this time that Nesser hailed a cab to the airport and flew home less than 24-hours after arrival. I'm not totally sure, because I've neither seen nor heard from him since. Around sunrise Dave wandered back to the hotel, only to see Fred clinging to the building's outside wall like Spiderman, transferring between one hotel balcony to another before finally reaching his room (he'd locked himself out). As we're all watching Fred jump between balconies, hoping nothing goes wrong, we see Kenny stumble out the front door in search of breakfast. It has quickly become apparent that Ben Rayboum and Ryan Lay are going to be doing most of the skating on this trip.

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THE THAI MASSAGE

"Look out! Fred's naked!" This phrase was uttered numerous times on the trip, often times by Fred himself, and it was never a false alarm. One of the most notable naked moments occurred in the lobby of a Thai massage parlor. Fred asked if we thought the place served happy endings. No one had an answer, so Fred just took off all his clothes in the lobby and sat down in the chair. The lady came to get him and freaked out, saying, "No! No! It's not that kind of place!" So that answered that.

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BANGKOK

Bangkok became known as a skate destination after Eric Koston's part in Menikmati. He mentioned how the spots were so good and that security could be bribed for as little as two dollars, some cigarettes, and beer. A decade later, this is no longer the case. The spots that he skates are still there, but the 24-hour security no longer take bribes--even if it's the equivalent of their monthly salary. Getting kicked out of every spot within two tries of showing up was becoming frustrating. By the end of the trip it had become a daily game of cat and mouse with the same two security guards. So when our guide Tao Kitpulla mentioned that there were a couple more skatespots two hours away near the Tiger Temple, it became obvious what to do: Get out of town!

As long as we got to visit the tigers first, that is. I figured if we weren't going to get a photo of Kenny Reed doing a front pivot on the roof of a Buddhist temple, we should at least chill with a tiger to warrant traveling half-way around the world.

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THE RED SHIRTS

Political unrest. The Redshirts are protesting the government. Rural laborers have taken over the retail district in downtown Bangkok. I'm somewhat concerned about how this will effect us as far as skatespots go, and more importantly, our lives. I'm assured by I-Path's team manager that we'll be fine: It's a Buddhist country, and these protesters are non-violent. But that had all changed the day before we left the US, when over 20 people were killed on the bloodiest day of unrest in over two decades. The tensions continued to escalate while we were there. The day after we left Bangkok, several grenades were thrown onto the deck of a train stop, the same stop we'd gotten off at each day to meet up with the guys at Perduce skateshop. Luckily those guys didn't figure out how to make their bombs a day earlier, or we might have been cooked like Pad Thai.

by joe hammeke

Caption: Ryan Lay, wallride beneath the bridge over the river Quail

Caption: We were kicked out of this Bangkok hubba everyday. Ryan Lay wasn't content with a first-day 50-50, so after four days of sneaking around the security booth, he rolled away with the 5-0

Caption: While everyone else was at the baggage claim, Ben Raybourn snapped this ollie

Caption: Raybourn, twist and shout, roll it on out

Caption: If this photo was a scratch and sniff you'd puke. Gall, ollie from rooftop to walkaway
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Author:Hammeke, Joe
Publication:Thrasher
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Dec 1, 2010
Words:995
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