‘It made my mum cry’: Daredevil teenager tells how Hong Kong ‘rooftopping’ video upset family
The latest daredevil to scale one of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers while shooting a vertigo-inducing video has admitted that his death-defying antics reduced his mother to tears.
Without using any safety equipment, German teenager Andrej Ciesielski recently reached the top of Lee Gardens in Causeway Bay, while using a GoPro camera to shoot enough video to make his audience go weak at the knees.
The building stands more than 240 metres high, according to website Emporis, which give information on buildings and construction worldwide.
Ciesielski, 18, says his family enjoys the pictures he takes, but they are always afraid of him falling.
“When they saw the video of the climb in Hong Kong, my mum cried. She’s so afraid that something could happen to me,” he says, admitting that for him the daredevil behaviour “is normal, it’s nothing special”.
During his trip to Hong Kong Ciesielski tried to get to the top of other buildings, playing cat and mouse with management and security guards.
He wrote on his blog that he was caught on the rooftop of the Hotel Panorama in Tsim Sha Tsui by a hotel manager, who called the police. He said the police were rude and “told us to go back to our country and next time we will get arrested and we will be banned from China and we will never be able to go back to Hong Kong again.”
He added that police deleted 600 images from his camera.
The Hotel Panorama would only say that they called the police.
When asked about the incident, Hong Kong police said that unless they had a case number and an exact date, they could neither comment on the incident, nor explain whether entering a building unauthorised really could get someone banned from ever entering Hong Kong.
Ciesielski is now in Shanghai, where he has continued to post pictures from on high.
Ciesielski says he’s more afraid of the police in Germany than anywhere else, because they can fine rooftoppers, sentence them to community service, and even give them a criminal record. He says a friend had recently contacted him to say that he got caught rooftopping in Munich and was fined around 500 Euros (HK $4,200.)
Other rooftoppers around the world have also had run-ins with the law. Last month, three Toronto men were charged for allegedly breaking locks to get to the observation deck of a building. Last August, a 24-year-old Russian tourist was arrested after he climbed up the Brooklyn Bridge. He was allowed to leave after carrying out 90 hours of community service and paying New York City US$1,500 in costs.
Ciesielski says that rooftopping is probably going to get harder in the future, if it doesn’t die out in certain cities altogether. He says he may not return to Hong Kong again because too many people are scaling the buildings here, and thus building managers will crack down on the hobby.
“So rooftopping is dead in Hong Kong. It’s not possible anymore,” he said. “I think people will go to Shanghai, and it will die there too. That’s the problem.”
Hong Kong, he says, is his favourite place, even without the rooftopping, giving him ample opportunity to snap street scenes and people. He says his dream is to become a war photographer for an international news agency.
The teenager is not the first high to post pictures on the internet from the tops of Hong Kong’s biggest buildings. Last year a team who call themselves the “Crazy Russians” got to the top of The Centre in Central – 346 metres above ground..
In August of that year, three Hong Kongers took what was dubbed “the world’s scariest selfie” – the trio munching on bananas on top of a skyscraper in Central.
One of those climbers, 23-year-old Daniel Lau, told the SCMP’s James Griffiths he was concerned that as Hong Kong becomes more and more popular with rooftoppers, that teams will become more competitive and aim to carry out ever more dangerous stunts.
“In Russia, they compete to be the first one to get to that roof, or to take the scariest photo ever. We’re not trying to do that,” he said.
“You have to know your limits.”