China Quest: Kristjan Prik interview

Traveling and skateboarding go hand in hand, but at the same time it is not so common for Baltic skate crews to travel to faraway lands such as China. So, when I heard that Estonians were going to China to skate and film a video, I was intrigued. How did they pull it off? Where did they get the funds? How did they manage to organise it? And these are the same guys who struggle to come to Riga sometimes. You know what I mean? 

Questions were piling up and no answers were coming in my way. I saw some articles about this trip, which is called Project C by the way, but all of them were in Estonian. How the hell can a Baltic brother get his answers? Good thing I knew them dudes, so I asked about it. This is basically it, if you were curious about Project C, or just curious how did these dudes get from Estonia to China, you can find all answers here, first hand from Kristjan Prik: the man who has seen it all and also took some photos.  

Interview by Edvard Gaba
Photos by Krisjan Prik

Hey Kristjan! How are you man?
Yo! Currently finishing my work for this week and it is Friday, April 20th…so feeling great! Did you know it’s Hitlers birthday today?

No, I didn’t actually, shit I thinks it might be my one of my friend’s birthday, he told me about something Hitler and him being birthday mates! Need to call him! Haha! How do you feel being back home and working after that proskater style China skate trip?
It feels good to be back home! These 2 weeks in China turned out to be the perfect amount to be away since it’s now spring here in Estonia. Now I’m glad to be back working after the refreshment which China provided me with. Although I’m not the biggest fan of living that proskater lifestyle for a long period of time and obviously I am not a proskater, but it sure felt like that in China and I did enjoy it!

I bet it felt like it! How did you guys managed that trip? Kristo told me you had all expenses covered. Free trip to China how is that possible?
The mastermind behind this trip was Kris Süld, he is the organizer of Viljandi Bash, which by the way is a skateboarding-only park contest this year! It takes place from 5th to 7th of July in Viljandi, Estonia.
Anyways…he wanted to premiere a skate movie within the Viljandi Bash festival. But since the circumstances here in Estonia aren’t too good to film a proper movie in like 3 months, he decided to use his magic powers. So he made the moves and next thing you know, the Embassy of China was now backing the project. I think they gave us the main support for this trip, but we also had other sponsors. I can’t say all their names here now, because i might be forgetting somebody haha. Tho I want to mention that Eneli (Siim Sild’s second half) did a really good job with the logistics!! Thank you Eneli!

So basically Kris went to the embassy and said I have some dudes that skate good and asked for money?
Haha, well, I guess the main idea was to promote going to China. To show other young people who it isn’t something utopical – and it isn’t! I really recommend it, culture shock at its finest!

So you as far as I understand you told them that this video will be like a promotion of China to Estonians and Estonian skaters and they were down to fund it?
I guess it was something like that, yes, but I don’t know exactly what went down behind the curtains. What I know is that the people from the embassy were super hyped to support us and helped us out with other stuff as well, so it was not only the money.

Awesome! So tell about the trip, is it difficult to get to China?
So first – get the visa, then buy the tickets and you have the best skate trip of your dreams. Other than that, you should prepare yourself for some squatting in the toilets and eating some nasty foods. Also get some translation app, otherwise you’re totally lost in translation. The people are kind and humble so we had no problem with conflicts or such, even during the kickouts.

So how was it, where did you stayed and who was your host?
We had the hostels booked for each city. Most of them were nice and cheap, but some of us got unlucky with the cockroaches in their rooms…and with some badly stinking fridge. It wasn’t a big problem since we spent most of our time on the streets, filming. That’s what I did there mostly because I dislocated my shoulder on the 2nd day of the trip. And wasn’t able to skate.

When I think of China I picture perfect spots and it seems like everything else must be perfect as well, and cockroaches don’t really fit there haha. So you guys arrived there and all you did was skate, right? Did pedestrians stop to watch you skate? In all american vids they always show that, Chinese people are stocked on skating and hang around during the session, was it anything like that?
Haha, it was exactly like that, we were movie stars! People gathered around in big numbers and sometimes even the cars would pull over, giving no fucks about the traffic jam they just caused – it was like a public movie set. It got quite annoying by the end when 20 kids were following you on roller blades or running, while you try to film a line. But I guess that’s something you need to consider when going there – being in the flashlight. You also get some really fun times with the locals and try to appreciate it because you know nothing like this would happen here.
We took a few days off from skating to heal up and see some touristy stuff also, like the big Buddha statue and some really tall buildings, which are crazy tall there if you didn’t know. But the streets were our true playground.

Which cities did you go to, I don’t know the geography of China that well but how much ground did you cover during the trip?
We landed to Hong Kong, then went straight to Shenzhen for 5 days, Guangzhou for 4 days and ended back in Hong Kong for 3 days. Total distance between HK & Guangzhou is only 120km and Shenzhen is in the middle. There’s around 40 million people living in these 3 cities, so you can see why they need the tallest buildings. The travelling was mostly convenient, though this one time it turned into an adventure with some local taxi hustlers. Some multitask-driving on the highway and Kusti losing his passport, but it turned out fine. By the way, always hustle when buying anything on the streets, you can get it half the prize almost always.

How did he lose his passport?
We wanted to take a bullet-train from Shenzhen to Guangzhou, but the tickets were sold put, so we had to bargain a reasonable price with the og taxi hustlers. The 2 hour trip was roughly 20-30 euro per face. We arrived to our fancy hotel, but by then Kusti had lost his passport and the situation didn’t look good. Somehow he managed to reach the hustlers, who didn’t speak English, to search for a passport in their taxi. They found it between the seats and returned it for another ~ 20 euros.

That’s crazy! You said that you can can bargain on the streets? haha What was some of the weirdest things you bought on the street?
Yeah, if they say 100, you will probably get it for 40. I bought a bag full of weird foods for my friends to try, but they haven’t been too popular yet… There’s a lot of things that leave you clueless.

Did you get some Chinese weed on the streets?
No, we didn’t bother about that… There’s good and cheap beer sold 24/7 and you can almost always find a nearby store. It was even cheaper than Latvian beer.

Cheaper than here? Homies are going to move to China because of that ) So were the spots as good as they look in clips? I remember some black wavy statues and that double set next to a red wall, what did you guys skate?
Yes, even cheaper haha!! The spots were crispy! They haven’t been overskated like most of the Barcelona ledges are. Actually, many of the perfect marble ledges that we saw, were not skated before, there’s just too many of them. So yeah, a lot of perfect flatground with uncountable amount of ledges, but also massive architecture, which naturally creates some huge, weird and unique spots. You’ll have to come to Viljandi to see the spots yourself.

I will have to go to Viljandi to see Chinese spots! You said earlier that you dislocated your shoulder, how did that happen and did you had insurance or something how do hospitals work there?
You know the wavy spot, the famous one? Well I tried to back lip one of the waves and somehow ended up on the ground. It wasn’t a big fall or anything, but the left shoulder bone popped out of its socket. The medics took me to a hospital for 2 hours and after x-raying the shit out of it, they re-popped it. The dislocation was nasty but happily no bones were broken and it didn’t hurt at all, which was weird. In the end the whole process costed only around 50 euros and it will be covered by insurance. Now im going to rehab for at least a few months – don’t want it to dislocate again… They even had one doctor speaking english!! So I was good.

Shit that’s nasty, you were probably bummed out. So did you go out at night? How is the night life in China? Do people do the same stuff as her in Europe? Like go out and party?
I was bummed out at first, until they relocated it. It’s the best feeling when your bones are where they should be haha. After that I was the guy who called out tricks for others. Almost every night we stayed out on the streets until late, so couldn’t find time for any night clubs or such. Chinese people don’t drink much, so we didn’t see drunk people on the streets… only us, sometimes. It takes a lot of beers for a skater to get drunk in this climate while skating.

Was there anything that shocked you the most? Like culture shock? Maybe related to local life or local skaters?

I wasn’t prepared to how advanced they are when it comes to payments via QR codes. You can basically do anything with QR codes there and it takes only a second to pay for a beer in the most random basement store. Of course we weren’t as advanced and had to deal with coins and dirty money. On the other hand…they have holes in their toilets, which seems kinda primitive to me. So you aren’t able to sit down, relax and scroll the thrashermag feed in instagram (maybe they’re able to do it, i don’t know). Jump in and out, or should i say, squat in and out. It seemed like every man there is a smoker, but i didn’t spot a single woman smoking! The traffic is fucked up. It’s like a controlled chaos. We saw a biker going the wrong direction on a multirow highway, slaloming his way through the oncoming cars and trucks. There were plenty of other small things to notice, but as a conclusion, I’d say it was a culture shock in a good way, nothing we couldn’t handle. It also gives a solid perspective of how we handle things here.

What about the Internet? I heard that websites such as Google and Facebook are banned there.
Internet (social media) as we know it, is pretty much banned. Google, Facebook, Instagram etc are blocked so you just can’t use them. Hong Kong is on another side of the China border so there it’s legal. You can figure out ways to still use your apps though.

What an awesome experience! You made the whole Baltic community jelly haha! So the video is going to be called Project C? C meaning China, right? In Viliandi you are going to premiere the video with only China footage or some more from Estonia? What kind of video is it going to be? Skate or a documentary with interviews?
C as China, yes. It’ll be China (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong) footage – skating combined with some hijinks & possibly touristish material. I’m not sure, if it’s the only movie in the program, but before Viljandi Bash, some project-c webisodes should be popping up as well. If we did make someone jelly, then i hope it’s for the best…hopefully we’ll get to see the “RajonTV adventures in China” next year??

Yeah right, Rajon in China, that would be insane! Any last words? Shout outs?
Shoutout to everybody in the Project C crew, our sponsors, the medics from the hospital & Buddha. Definitely going back!

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One Reply to “China Quest: Kristjan Prik interview”

  1. These guys sure make lemonade. Hope this story will serve as inspiration to Latvian and Lithuanian crews to get on some free travel

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