The sun is shining brightly, a few lazy clouds drifting gently across the sky and a thick wave of humidity hangs in the air. It’s hot. Very, very hot. Matt and I are standing in a place most tourists wouldn’t visit in Singapore, the East Coast Parkway (ECP). Locals love this place, with its beachfront paths, dedicated bikeway and cool ocean breeze (not to mention the amazing food court – one of my favourite places to eat in Singapore!). I’ve always thought skating was incredibly cool, but I’ve watched just enough ‘fail’ videos to have a sensible fear of falling off and getting hit in the groin and somehow going viral. That said, I’ve always wanted to learn to skate because it looks like so much fun! Nothing fancy, like doing tricks, I just want to be able to zoom from place to place and experience the sense of fun and freedom I see others get from it.
So, here I am in Singapore at the ECP, my brand spanking new Penny board in tow, determined to learn how to ride it. It’s slow going, I won’t lie. At the moment it’s a lot of walking around, holding onto it, looking hopeful and trying to build up the courage to jump on it. I’m a bit wobbly at first, but it starts to feel more and more comfortable. The key, like it is in so many other life situations, is just to commit to it. To decide you’re going to go for it and commit to it with your whole mind, body and heart.
After a bit of messing around along the bikeway, with very few witnesses around to see my shaky skating attempts, we decide to head over to the skate park. We’re hoping to catch a few locals there to draw inspiration from. Turns out it’s our lucky day, there are two local guys sitting in the shade with their boards. As we walk up they both pause and smile at us, offering a friendly hello and a kind comment about the bright orange board in my hand. I explain to them I’ve been gifted the board by the guys at Penny and offer it to them to play with, if they’d like to try it out. One of the guys, Jonathan, smiles happily and grabs the board with great joy, eager to test it out.
Jonathan explains he only started skating in the last few years, when he found himself in the grips of a mid-life crisis, gifted with a skateboard from friends. Since that moment he fell in love with it and now skates all the time, learning more and more as the weeks and months go by. He’s putting the orange board through its paces, testing it out, making adjustments and trying out a few of the skate parks concrete surfaces.
We run around the park together like four little kids, checking out all the different ramps and traps, from the absolutely insane through to the much easier, entry-level dips and slopes. Jonathan drags us to the other side of the park, eager to show us the massive pool (it’s empty, don’t worry). We stand on the edge of it, trying to take in just how insane the drop is. Matt and Jonathan climb down into it, buzzing around on the boards and climbing up the sides. There are rails, ledges, half-pipes, quarter-pipes, ramps and a million other cool things that only a true skater could name and totally appreciate.
There we are, in a real locals part of Singapore, hanging out at a skatepark in the middle of the day on a Tuesday and we’ve made two new friends. That’s the great thing about travel, you see. It gives you the life experience and confidence to meet new people and form connections with them. I don’t know how to skate, but Jonathan (a genuine skater!) didn’t care. He was more than happy to share his story with us and have some fun. Without even realising it we’ve spent quite a bit of time together, bonding over something we all love and just having a really nice time with nowhere to be and nothing to do.
When you find something you really enjoy, it brings you close to other people who love it too. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or what you, some things in life are levelling. I loved Jonathan’s story, how he only started skating later in life. It’s powerful because it’s so easy to get to a point in your life where you think, “Oh well, I’m too old. It’s too late, that ship has sailed, so I may as well just forget about it.” It’s never too late to take up a new hobby, try something you’ve always wanted to, learn a new skill or chase after your dreams. I love how travel constantly allows me to meet people who remind me of this! I have a feeling it’s going to take me a while to get the hang of riding a skateboard, but I’m determined to keep trying. Thank you so much to both Penny boards and Jonathan for the inspiration to keep going!
Watch: my video ‘Searching for skaters in Singapore’
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.