Orapan Arwen Tongkong แป้ง : ‘the skateboarding is my lifeline’

March 8, 2024 / By mathilde

Meet Orapan Tongkong, the second Golden Ticket for JACKALOPE Mississauga. In this exclusive interview, Orapan shares her remarkable journey through the world of skateboarding, from her humble beginnings to the profound impact this sport has had on her life.

✈ Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in skateboarding?
Hey, my name is Orapan Tongkong. People know me as Ora or Phaeng. Born in Thailand but raised in Belgium. My first time on a skateboard was when I was 12 years old (2010). Had a bit of a rough childhood. Skateboarding has saved my life and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities it has given me and for all the people that I have met.

✈ What is your favorite skate style and why?
I like all styles; everyone skates differently and that is one of the many beautiful things about skateboarding in my opinion. I would say it’s more about the vibe and the aura the skater has and not the tricks or style. I want to be able to see the soul skating and not their mind. if that makes sense?

✈ How would you describe the impact of skateboarding on your life and personality?
It’s all based on that, it is truly my base of my life. some don’t and won’t ever understand that. but everything that is going on till this day it all has something to do through skateboarding. Even when I close my eyes and I breathe in deep, I literally breath skateboarding. It saved me, it kept me alive and it will keep doing that.

✈ Is there a particular skater you’ve met who has left a lasting impression on you or inspires you, and why?
I don’t want to sound cheesy but every skater I met I am impressed, interested by.  I love to hear others’ story and their journey what brought them here and now. But if you really want to hear a name. NESTOR JUDKINS, what he does with his NGO is just a medal worth.

✈ What are your goals as a skater and how do you plan to achieve them?
My goal as a skater is to be able to introduce skateboarding to kids, give the next generation a push into whatever they want to do. Skateboarding is just ‘a tool’ to do so. I am going to achieve that goal by doing what I love the most, skateboarding and sharing. sounds like the perfect combination in my ears.

✈ Can you tell us about your encounter with Mike, the moment he handed you your Golden Ticket? I see the fire in Mike, his eyes, the fire that keeps pushing him to do whatever he loves.

I really respect that and I hope everything he wants in life will get to him. Truly wish him that luck and good health will be his getaway. The moment he gave me the ticket I wasn’t sure if I was the right person to be honest. I felt like I should give my spot away. But in the end, this is what will help me bring closer to achieve my goals, to be able to reach out to the next generation, to empower them that it is in fact true that skateboarding can change your life. 

So, I am really grateful that I received that ticket.

✈ What are you most looking forward to about your participation in JACKALOPE Mississauga ?
Meeting the people and be in Canada for the first time!

✈ Have you ever skateboarded outside of your country? Yes!

✈ Can you share a memorable anecdote or moment related to your skateboarding experience?
I never knew what my mission was until I traveled to Bhutan in 2023 with a non-profit called Salad Days skateboarding. We collaborated with Olympic Committee of Bhutan to hold a 6-day long skate camp in Thimphu at the Johnny Strange skatepark. We went to schools to introduce skateboarding to the new generation of Bhutan. Standing there in front of 100+ kids with 5 skateboarders each holding a skateboard and with only 30 min for some kids to try it out. Some of the kids never laid eyes on a skateboard before they saw us, let alone tried it.

The kids were filled with excitement and joy when they saw us. They knew not everyone will have the chance to try it out today but the fact that they saw skateboarders filled their eyes with joy.

The opportunity to try out skating with us was enough for them. Imagine giving them the opportunity to skate and set goals with it. That’s when I realized that this is what I want to do. I want to share my story about skateboarding, I want to pass my knowledge to young and old. It can change lives. It did so for every skateboarder I know on and off the board. It’s not what you do with your skateboard but what skateboarding does to you.

✈Is there a specific place where you’d love to skate? I would love to go to the Middle East.

✈What advice would you give to young skaters aspiring to succeed in this sport?

Orapan Tongkong’s journey through the world of skateboarding serves as a testament to the transformative power of passion and perseverance. As she continues to chase her dreams and empower the next generation of skaters, her story reminds us that skateboarding is more than just a sport—it’s a way of life.