“You teach ice skating? In Bangkok?!”
This is the guaranteed reaction of anyone who asks what I am doing here in Thailand. Yes, despite the 30 degree heat and limited space, Bangkok is home to no fewer than seven ice rinks, mostly situated in large shopping malls among the designer shops and cool cafes. So if you’re wondering what to do with your little ones, stop sweating (literally), and hit the ice!
Of course, if you don’t want to risk looking like Bambi on skates, you can sip a cuppa in the rink-side cafe and watch the kids glide around from a safe distance. Hire a penguin stabiliser or get a coach to teach them the basics and keep them entertained for an hour. As if you needed more convincing, here are 7 reasons skating is great for kids (and adults):
1. It’s fun! Most kids in South East Asia rarely see a rink, let alone get to play on one. The novelty of sliding around and seeing ice and snow somewhere other than in a dessert is enough to thrill young kids in the region. I am still surprised at how fascinated my skaters can be with a sprinkling of snow!
2. It’s active – whether by messing around with friends or learning with a coach, skating is an excellent way for anyone to get exercise without even realising it. If your kids are glued to another re-run of ‘Frozen’, get them up and active by stepping into the ice world for real.
3. It improves mental health – regular exercise, especially in the cool rink air, helps to relieve stress. Focusing on physical activity distracts from niggling worries, and learning new skills is a great confidence-booster.
4. It improves physical health – besides simply being active, skating improves joint flexibility, bone and muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. Oddly, regular skaters rarely get colds thanks to the cool, fresh atmosphere of the rink. Oh, and let’s not forget improved balance!
5. It’s social – skating is a fun way for children to meet new friends (usually by crashing into them), and for single adults to meet people too. Or invite current friends and family to join you. You can also consider having a skating birthday party; most rinks have special birthday sessions available. Have a group lesson or party games with a coach and head to the rink cafe afterwards to have your cake and eat it too!
6. It’s educational – students learn more than how to skate. Most of my skaters are Thai children who get to learn and practice English with me. They also learn about on-ice etiquette and, for more serious skaters, the healthy discipline required to pursue a sport to competition level. I teach my students to have a healthy attitude to competitions and tests, and to maintain confidence and resilience in the face of set-backs. Needless to say, these are crucial skills outside the rink too!
7. It’s available year-round – there is no excuse for only going once a year at Christmas time – Bangkok’s rinks are open all year, even on most public holidays.
Where to start? Head to Central Plaza Grand Rama XI by MRT Rama 9 for the best quality rink in central Bangkok. I am a female native English speaker and teach there everyday. You can book a private or group lesson on arrival and ask for Coach Byul, or call me on 062-720-4960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a look at www.therink-icearena.com and www.bangkok.com/sport-ice-skating for a list of more rinks and opening times in Bangkok and beyond; there are rinks in Korat, Pattaya, Chiang Mai too. Note that the rink at Central World is currently closed for refurbishment.
What are you waiting for? get your skates on!