Why I climb insanely tall buildings with my bare hands

Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNNUpdated 19th August 2015
Hong Kong (CNN) — For most people a wild night out means little more than knocking back a few midweek drinks or, if they're feeling particularly crazy, ordering dessert.
For Daniel Lau, it's scaling skyscrapers barehanded.
Rooftopping, as it's also known.
His activities recently lit up Chinese media thanks to a picture snapped from above China's fourth tallest building.
He climbed the 450-meter Zifeng Tower in Nanjing, alongside notorious Russian rooftoppers Vladimir Sidorov and Ivan Kuznetsov.
Lau was also the guy holding the selfie stick on top of a skyscraper in Hong Kong with two banana-eating rooftoppers that boggled the internet last year.

City on slo-mo

So what motivates someone to pursue such a staggeringly dangerous -- and often highly illegal -- pastime?
Apparently, Lau tells CNN, it's because life at ground level is too stressful.
"Rooftopping is like a getaway from city life to me -- Hong Kong is such a fast-paced city with so much pressure and noise," he says.
"When I'm on a rooftop, everything slows down, you don't hear anything but wind, all the rush from the ground became like slow-motion."
Surprisingly, Lau isn't alone in his perilous passion.
In 2014, he co-founded Exthetics, with Dex Ng and Lawrence Tsui, with the aim of documenting the urban exploration of abandoned buildings and rooftops.
The team's conquests to date include the 115-story Ping'an International Financial Center.
The Shenzhen mega skyscraper is China's tallest and the world's second tallest building.
They've also summited Bangkok's Sathorn Unique Tower, the world's tallest abandoned building.
"Exploring an abandoned building is something different. The Sathorn Unique Tower, being the tallest abandonment in the world makes it even more remarkable," says Lau.
Hearing Lau retell the details of his urbex -- urban exploring -- is sometimes vertigo-inducing enough, without seeing the photos.
Particularly when tells how his team walked across a bridge to access the the Sathorn tower.
"The metal was so rusty, making it so thin, we had to be super cautious when walking," he says.
"We were walking floor by floor," says Lau. "The special thing about urbex is that there could be something interesting on any floor, around any corner. After climbing 49 floors, we reached the top and waited for the sunrise."

'Know your limits'

It's impossible to endorse such activities, particularly when illegal and reckless rooftopping stunts leave controversy in their wake.
Two Russian climbers, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov, had to apologize in 2013 after climbing the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt.
There's also been tragedy.
Earlier in 2015 a 21-year-old French tourist fell and died during what the police believed to be a climb that went badly wrong.
For Lau, it's all about trying to push his limits, and he doesn't encourage others to try.
"Let's put it this way, personally I'm scared of ghosts, I could never understand why people would explore haunted places."
"Know your limits, never try to use this as a way to show off," he says. "I've never been scared of heights -- height was not a problem for me to overcome. Being a daredevil was not a character that I wished to establish either."
He adds: "I have pretty good balancing ability, no one could feel how I feel being on that exact position.
"Anything involves risks, but you're the one who should take responsibility of yourself."