Andre Akito

April 23, 2020

The Skateboard Community in Ha Giang

What is the first thing that you are going to do once the lockdown is finally over?   For the guys of Hà Giang Skate Center, the answer is quite obvious: Skate! In normal times, the group meets every day at the central square in Hà Giang. It doesn’t matter the day, the weather, broken arms or fresh scars, you will always find someone from the crew at the square in the afternoon. It’s like a ritual… 

However, by the end of march 2020, things started to change. Due to increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Vietnamese government decided to implement some stricter social distancing guidelines. On March 31, the government ordered a nationwide isolation. With the new measures, most of the public spaces were closed and people could only go out in the streets for basic needs. In addition, several roads were shut and public transportation was halted in most provinces. 

Once a popular destination for backpackers’, mostly because of its famous motorbike loop, Hà Giang quickly became a ghost town. During the isolation days, the streets were empty, with only local markets available to citizens. Due to a high uncertainty about the length of the pandemic, several hostels, homestays and restaurants decided to permanently close their doors. On the other hand, some other organizations had to rethink their business models in order to adapt to this new situation. Jolly Club, the school in which I was volunteering, started to offer online classes, for example. 

During this time, the crew from PWYCCED was counting the days in order to get back to skate life once again. In the meantime, they were skating mostly inside their houses or in closed places. 

The day finally came in the end of April. On April 23, the government lifted nationwide isolation and ease some social distancing guidelines. As soon as public spaces were open again, skating in Ha Giang Central Square was back on track. By that time, I had the chance to get together with them in order to capture some of their joy about returning to one of the things that they love the most: skate.

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