For the past three months I've been in a constant "Groundhog's Day" scenario of changing poopie diapers and picking up dog feces in New Jersey. I find myself yearning for adventure, itching to get on the next plane to anywhere with my family to see what's out there. But I can't. That would be irresponsible. So instead I live vicariously through my friends. One buddy whose eyes I often get to see the open road through is Dan Zvereff. He's are always flying somewhere remote to skate and see what's out there. Recently Zvereff teamed up with filmmaker Patrik Wallner, Kenny Reed, Casey Rigney and a bunch of other dudes to attack Southeast Asia. Here's a conversation with Wallner about the video, "Mandalay Express," and the adventures that went into its creation.
Who all went on the Vietnam trip and how did you pick this crew?
The crew consisted of the Americans: Kenny Reed, Casey Rigney and Dan Zvereff as well as the British: John Tanner and Laurence Keefe. Then we had Denny Pham from Germany and Geng Jakkarin from Thailand. From the beginning, at least half of those guys told me way in advance that they want to join a trip traversing Southeast Asia. I spent a month or two writing e-mails to many different skateboarders from Europe and America and most of them had to bail out because of the randomness of the trip or they had other sponsored events they would have to attend.
Where did you go and why did you choose those places?
I went to Vietnam to film with some Parisians around four years ago. I'd been vividly reminiscing about the exotic, pristine ledges and marble banks that we skated for the past year and thought about going back with a gang of skaters to film a documentary of us starting a trail crossing Southeast Asia from Vietnam through Cambodia to Thailand and going all the way to Myanmar. All of those countries embed and hold diverse cultures, people, languages, traditions and unusual skate-spots. Visiting all four countries within one trip would be the amusing challenge.
How did you travel and what were some transportation highlights or low points?
Throughout the trip we ended up taking eight to 10 hour night-buses from city to city. We mainly took local buses. We rented mopeds, hired minivans, drove for hours in the backs of pick up trucks and even once treated ourselves to an unforgettable train-ride. Overall, we spent over 76 hours on the road. The highlight and the lowlight both ended up being the train between Mandalay and Rangoon, the "Mandalay Express." This fairly dirty, former Chinese train from the '80s, which hadn't been cleaned for years, ended up being the last transport of our trip through Southeast Asia. The 18-hour ride went through beautiful landscape, but the life on the train and around it was just gnarly and pretty unimaginable from a western point of view. The "Mandalay Express" DVD gives you a sneak peak into that train-ride and the skateboarding and adventures from the rest of the trip.
To learn more about the video and/or to purchase a copy check the website here.