Two vans, one full of stoked kids and staff, and the other filled to the ceiling with boards, gear, and musical instruments, set out on a highly anticipated weekend road trip to Kep to skateboard the infamous concrete bowl at the Jasmine Valley Eco-Resort for what proved to be an epic first-ever skateboard contest of its kind in Cambodia. 

Saturday’s festivities included a warm-up session before the contest held later that afternoon. This was the first time our students have ever skated a concrete bowl. Their initial reservation and trepidation was quickly transformed into an all-out charging session.

By the contest’s end, the kids were carving on the vertical walls and tight transitions, and some were even pulling rock-to-fakies, 5-0 grinds, and tail taps. Their bravery and skill levels quickly escalated in a matter of a day.  

It is exciting to think of the tricks they would be pulling if given the chance to skate the bowl daily. A couple of local youth who have access to the pool, inspired our kids with their big bag of tricks, lines and flair.  Our students’ stoke was also fueled by cheers from curious locals, tourists, staff and friends, who all came out to witness the competition first-hand.   In the end, it didn’t matter the standings, but the winners were happy to fill up their phones with minutes, thanks to a generous donation from Smart Mobile!

The Contest Results:

1st Place: Setha
2nd Place: Simon
3rd Place:  Sophanet
Highest wall-ride: Kong Chivin
Most Dangerous man in the bowl: Rithy
Best Trick: Sophanet (high ollie to fakie on the bank)
Best Slam: They

1st Place: Rachana
2nd Place: Tin
3rd Place: Serey

After the contest and a delicious dinner, the party continued into the night with fire-dancing, DJ-ing, and a special live performance by the energetic punk outfit Bob Schkoot and the Schkoots! The action did not stop there. Professor Kinski was on hand and threw in some popular Khmer mixes that kept the kids moving. It seems the young skateboarders’ bones withstood the abuse handed to them earlier in the unforgiving concrete bowl, because they ended up dazzling the crowd with their impromptu display of break-dancing and acrobatic prowess.

On a side-note many of our Skateistan staff members and friends charged the pool hard, tearing it up and gave the kids further inspiration as well as aspiration.  Steve Tierney, Sam Jam, and our fearless leader, Benji Pecqueur were especially rocking it.  Unfortunately, the pool countered the abuse Benji delivered it by leaving him with a broken wrist to keep him humble. True to form, Benji could not be contained and he continued to skate the bowl adorned in an interim cast made out of an ace bandage, chopsticks and a toothbrush. That’s our Benji!

Jasmine and Owen Beck, who opened the magical eco-resort in the jungle-covered mountains, were the most generous and wonderful of hosts.  Aside from inviting us down to skateboard their bowl, they donated their beautiful accommodations for the night and fed us delicious home-grown meals, as well as gave out T-shirts to our whole crew.  

Some standout culinary delights were the curried vegetables, wood-fired pizza, fish amok, deep-fried eggs with chili-sauce and their lip-smacking ribs!  When the kids were not shredding the bowl, they spent time playing pool, ping-pong and swam in the all-natural swimming pool.  In keeping true to their name, the entire eco-resort is powered by solar panels and their gardens and landscaping utilize permaculture design and biodiverse and pesticide free planting practices.  

We were all happy to trade in the constant sounds of traffic and construction in Phnom Penh and instead listen to the peaceful sounds of the jungle’s animals, birds and critters. Jasmine Valley is truly an oasis with its bamboo and thatched roofs, mud-brick architecture and environmentally conscious building practices, along with lush surroundings and breath-taking views.  

The bowl would be reason enough to come back, but our welcoming and consummate hosts and gorgeous surroundings ensure another trek to Kep will be planned in the near future!