The Mandalay Express is a sequel to last year’s more expansive 10,000 Kilometers, which was a train ride through two continents’ worth of skate spots. Mandalay is confined to the southeastern quadrant of Asia, near where the previous video left off, and covers four countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar, via “78 hours of buses” in 30 days. The crew for the trip consists of Casey Rigney, Kenny Reed, Denny Pham, Geng Jakkarin, Laurence Keefe, John Tanner, TF personality / nose manual mastermind Dan Zvereff, and the video’s creator, Patrik Wallner.
Travel videos are made to tap into our instinctual fascination with new skate spots, even if we experience them on a vicarious level. Patrik could make this same video another eight times in regions that have experienced a similar lack-of-interest from mainstream skateboarding (for example, non-Brazilian South America, or even Africa, though probably not the Middle East), and it would be just as interesting. Watching it, we could only imagine what sort of skateable things exist outside of major cities on this planet, as one of the video’s most amazing architectural discoveries is a bust-free, half-completed religious theme resort in the middle of Myanmar, which is described as looking akin to a mini golf course.
Without dipping too far into skateboard documentary clichés about how we interpret the world differently, Mandalay, and all off-the-radar skate excursions for that matter, are testaments to how there are few travelers more concerned with the minutiae of foreign locations than skateboarders. The video’s narrators make a point of mentioning their relative indifference to renown temples and other tourist destinations when weighed against the prospect of new spots, no matter how ridiculous they might be (i.e. “So the first spot we skated in Myanmar…was basically a tree.”) Mandalay does have a bit of non-skate tourism mixed in, but only dwells on the grandiose (The Angkor Wat in Camboria, the largest religious monument on earth), and the bizarre (eating a still-beating cobra heart and chasing it down with blood and vodka.) At the same time, when on a foreign skateboard trip, you leave yourself susceptible to many of the unpleasant hallmarks that normal travelers desperately try to avoid, be it injury or law enforcement, and the video deals with both.
Like its predecessor, the video is tightly edited, clocking in at 30 minutes for a 30-day trip, with a ten-minute raw footage bonus section. Most of its time is spent on actual skating, only including the most noteworthy facts about any given location. It zips through more heavily-covered ground like Bangkok, and takes its time with lesser-known curiosities once they reach Myanmar.
After Sorry and The DC Video came out, you could easily get any thirteen-year-old to draw you an accurate aerial diagram of MACBA or Para-lel before he told you who designed La Sagrada Familia. Though many of those thirteen-year-olds never made it to Barcelona, they certainly grew tired of seeing it in every skate video for the next ten years. The Mandalay Express strays far off from skateboarding’s geographic biases, and puts the amount of remaining, untouched spots in the world into great perspective. You can purchase it on Patrik’s website, VisualTraveling.com.
Somewhat related: In honor of ambitious skateboard missions, here are two favorites from the past year: Enjoi in Kazakhstan & Snack Skateboards in Columbia. And don’t forget, “You most likely know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me.”