North Korea's first skate park just opened in Pyongyang--makes me wonder if this is another step in the country's gradual catch-up game with the rest of the contemporary world.
This could be a positive sign, as skateboarding is obviously an American concept. (Traditionally, anything American or Western was condemned in North Korea.) But with the young Kim Jong Un in power, maybe certain aspects of outside culture are slowly being accepted within their borders.
Surfing continues to grow in China, thanks to Hainan Island's temperate climate and ideal waters. Although many Chinese citizens aren't completely familiar with the sport, surfing is swiftly expanding throughout the country as both young men and women are finally beginning to take advantage of their attractive coastlines.
This is only a win-win for everybody. Surfers tend to be really in tuned with the world's water issues for obvious reasons, so hopefully this new generation of surfers in China will propel more environmental education and pollution awareness in their country.
Some amazing images from Otelo Burning, a 2011 film about a group of young boys in apartheid South Africa. After growing up afraid of the waves, they soon end up using surfing as an escape from their oppressive lives in their township. The main character Otelo possesses a unique talent for surfing which leads to an exciting new lifestyle, which is interrupted by a family tragedy. His life changes parallel to Nelson Mandela's, whose release from 27 years in prison coincides with Otelo's personal crossroad. The film is in Zulu with subtitles.
Nassima Atker, a homeless girl in Bangladesh, is one of the top surfers in her country despite living in a culture where the sport is deemed inappropriate for females. Her story has captured the interest of documentary filmmakers as well as Deputy Executive Director of United Nations Women Lakshmi Puri, who included her in a recent IOC speech.
It's hard to swallow that in 2012 there are plenty of places in the world that discourage or even forbid females from playing sports. Most of this kind of reasoning revolves around the notion that a woman's place is at home--not participating in activities that could damage their hymens and therefore "lose" their virginity. We can thank archaic faith-based reasonings mainly seen in third world countries for maintaining such dark-age philosophies. While these countries tend to be in the Middle East and some parts of Asia and Africa, it's clear that this way of thinking is slowly but surely on its way out.
The benefits of the camp have been far reaching. The youngsters from the isolated village of Isithumba have discovered that, through this sport, they can be part of something bigger. "They realise they can be part of the international sub-culture of skateboarding and feel connected to a bigger family than that of their usual day-to-day experience," explains [Indigo founder Dallas Oberholzer]. It has opened doors to the local youths who network with the skateboarders visiting the camp. "There is a connection that transcends the barriers of language and allows everyone to share in their skills and their passion," he claims.
She's riding manmade waves in the middle of the desert at Wadi Adventure, located in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. In a town where rain is rare, this high-tech water park offers not only surfing but also whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip lining, rock climbing, and of course swimming.
But it's the surfing aspect that demands a more serious implication here--the International Surfing Association sees this wave technology as a crucial selling point to having the sport enter the next Olympics. Controlled waves offer a fair playing field for competitors, who are used to dealing with swells based upon Mother Nature's randomness.
Surfing was a part of the X Games a few years back but was pulled for a variety of reasons. As one of the most global and elite sports in the world, I hope the International Olympic Committee will be able to handle the sport properly.
Another gorgeous morning in the ocean, though it was still nearly 80 degrees by the time we left mid-morning. Plenty of seals, but no Buddhist monks this time--maybe the Los Angeles heat wave kept them indoors?
Sure plenty of women are into the whole skateboarding thing now, but Katherine Hepburn was doing it back in 1967! Apparently her sister's son hooked her interest while he was writing a book on the sport. Here are some old shots of her riding in Beverly Hills: