Skateboarding is probably not the first thing you think of when you think of getting around in Hanoi: after all, where would there be room? But things are changing, and a few months ago a mini half-pipe was constructed at Hanoi Rock City. I spoke with 25-year old Englishman Sam Murdoch, one of the brains behind the initiative, to find out more.
Sam’s been living in Hanoi for about 18 months, working as an English teacher and graphic designer. Until recently he worked at streetwear retailer Bosua, and while there got chatting with colleague Viet Hung. He says: “Both being skaters, we were talking about the lack of any ramps or skateparks in Hanoi. There are loads of good street skaters but they didn’t have the chance to try ramp tricks. We then decided if we found the right venue we would build a mini half-pipe.”
The courtyard at Hanoi Rock City came to mind and “thankfully they were interested,” Sam says. Sam worked with a friend and fellow skate fan Rob to design the ramp. They researched ramp blueprints online then drew up a design and took it to a local carpentry firm in Cau Giay district.
“They did a really good job putting it together in a few days and the framework was accurate and strong,” he says. Everything went smoothly, although they’ve had some problems with the wood becoming damaged due to the damp weather here. “We are looking to get it re-surfaced with some higher quality wood or perhaps aluminium soon,” he says. The ramp was funded by Viet Hung.
A Skate Jam was organised for the launch event, with Sam and friends making artwork, breakdancers and the support of local skate shop LB: “It was good times had by all as we drank, danced and skated until we could nae skate nee more!”
It’s still popular, with skaters still getting down there most days; Sam’s there about three times a week himself. “The aim was to build a ramp suitable for all ages, beginner to advanced: a place for all of Hanoi’s skaters (including ourselves) to hang out and skate for free and to encourage ramp skating, as it is just as big a part of worldwide skateboarding as street skating is. We hope we’ve achieved that.”
The ramp is open for all from 16:00-22:00 daily, although HRC will close it if they need the space for a big event. If you don’t have your own board Sam says the skaters are friendly and would be more than happy to let you have a roll!
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.