Siem Reap's rooftop miniramp.
THE rooftop of Siem Reap's X-bar is now home to the province's first miniramp - a U-shaped ramp, or halfpipe, used by skateboarders and BMX bikers to perform tricks.
X-bar co-owner Carlo Tarabini, who built the miniramp almost entirely by himself and has stocked his bar with BMX bikes and skateboards for willing patrons, told The Post that he hopes the structure will spark a skateboarding craze among local Cambodians.
The madcap behaviour of motorbike drivers shows a natural Cambodian flair for extreme sports, but skateboarding has not yet caught on in Khmer culture.
Tarabini believes the problem lies in a lack of infrastructure.
"Cambodians are already picking up on the Rollerblades because it's easy to set up Rollerblade rinks. But the kids just sort of roll around on a track. It's completely different to skateboarding," he said.
However, Tarabini thinks that if halfpipes are built, the skaters will follow.
"Kids are fairly resilient [to injury] around here," he said. "There's a large population of them, so I can see it happening. Look at Thailand and Indonesia. It's what kids in the world are doing these days, if they've got access to it."
Tarabini came up with the idea to build the miniramp two years ago.
"We talked about it as something that can help kids," he said. "We had it growing up and it was a good release for us. Kids over here don't really seem to have a lot to occupy their time. They've got some kick-a-thong-around-type sports, but not a lot. I saw the potential."
Labour of love
The ramp took six months to build, with work being done by Tarabini in his spare time and others when needed.
"A couple of local expats helped me put the wood down," he said.
The result is a "smooth and fast" 2-metre-tall ramp that overlooks Siem Reap's popular Pub Street.
The halfpipe is open to customers during the day, and plans are under way to install lighting so it can be used at night. Tarabini also hopes to start skateboarding classes for Khmer kids and is approaching organisations that could help him get this off the ground.
"We're talking it out with a couple of local NGOs. We're also looking into organisations like the Tony Hawk Foundation. When Tony Hawk came to town ... it was something he wanted to do."