In the beginning of the Chinese winter, filmmaker Patrik Wallner gathered together a motley crew of skaters and set course for far Western China. Starting in the metropolis of Shanghai and then stopping in at Xi'an and Urumqi, our final destination was Kashgar, the very far west of the Far East. Outwardly Muslim in appearance and culture the further west we traveled, Kashgar itself is one of the oldest cities on the ancient Silk Road. Our method of travel was the vastly effective Chinese train system, with over 72 hours spent in carriages and cabins, playing cards, sipping beers, and sleeping—it was a fantastic way to traverse this massive nation. And so it went that two Germans (Daniel Pannemann and Vladik Scholz), two Americans (James Capps and Taylor Nawrocki), two Australians (Timmy McMeel and myself), and a Brit named Barney Page joined Wallner and his Delaware-born Chinese attaché, Tommy Zhao, into the unknown for a skate adventure like no other.
Words and photos by MIKE O’MEALLY
Possibly one of the most remote and desolate skate spots you may never find yourself in… Daniel Pannemann catches a beauty of a frontside flip in high wind, low temps, and at a fountain that was begun sometime in the '90s and is still yet to be completed. This is at a giant park similar to Flushing in Queens, New York—it represents the geographic center point of all of Eurasia. Located about 45 minutes outside of Kashgar, you will find all nations of Asia represented by a bizarre sculpture and a flag (except Vietnam, right, Timmy?)
Throughout Central and Western China, there is a massive push in construction, which means there are cities there bigger than NYC that you have possibly never heard of. End result being much marble and many, many skate spots. James Capps throws caution to the wind on a Xi'an rooftop.
A shanghai boat captain waves from the Pudong River. A Kashgar schoolboy plays gangster with a toy gat. Daniel Pannemann gives a skate lesson to a young Kashgari girl in front of the hostel where we stayed. A blind man in Xi'an plays a different set of pipes while his wife collects the coins.
Taylor Nawrocki sails a fat "fuqboi" from east to west across this heavily sessioned but never switched black-marble chasm on Shaghai's Pudong River.
Our crew disembarks in Urumqi after a 32-hour train ride (note the heavy police presence to our right—Wallner even had his footage erased after an attempt at documenting the station). Tay-God Nawrocki holds on tight as locals in the Kashgar town square attempt to bargain his board away. Camels for sale at the ancient animal market in Kashgar. The tomb of the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an Province.
Another of the eye-popping skate spots in Xi'an gets handled by a James Capps kickflip. This plaza is a large rotunda with these curved Hubbas dotted all the way around—a skater's paradise.
Clockwise from top left: R-L-A lady in Shanghai is happy to give you crabs. A coffee shop in Xi’an where the employees wear the same knockoff hat on the daily. Tay-God is happy for the free ride after a long day of pushing through dusty streets of Xi'an. Timmy Mac ordered up big on beers to pass the hours on the long train ride, and here he catches some easy airtime on a steezy nose bonk into the bank in Xi'an.
When we returned from a three-hour hike to Shipton's Arch, we were met by these sketchy pikeys at the base of the gate and they wouldn't let us out until we bought tickets.
At the tip of the archway it was cell-phone photographer's dream except that many of them froze over—including Taylor's, which actually fell into the snow.
Barney Page launches the wrong backside 180 way over a tall rail at the University of Urumqi. Minutes later these stairs were overrun by hundreds of students coming out of class for their lunch break.
Clockwise from top left: Our illustrious guide and speaker of many languages including Chinese, Patrik Wallner negotiates a cab fare at the Kashgar train station at 6 a.m. Passing the time wisely on the train is the key to maintaining sanity—card games helped to chip away the hours. Hobo fashion of the streets in Shanghai is practical and on point. Our crew whizzes past the temple of the old city in Xi'an Province which remains brightly lit at night.
Taylor Nawrocki nosegrinds backside and long in front of a castle from the early 6th century in Xi'an, where archers used to launch their arrows at marauding Mongols and Huns.
Barney Page and Taylor Nawrocki catch an easy ride through the streets of Shanghai.
Vladik Scholz catches a perfectly styled frontside half Cab flip on a remote bank in outer Kashgar that has definitely never been skated before.
Strangely enough this is an empty swimming pool in the province of Xi'an. Barney Page tore this thing apart despite the steep walls and abrupt banks. Here he handles a frontside blunt amongst other tricks.
Red Bull Skateboarding is rolling out four episodes from this trip. Check the first two here: