Hong Kong Rooftops: You Are Being Watched

Last month, I paid a visit to Hong Kong Reader, a great independent bookstore on the seventh floor of a building in Mongkok. Before I entered the shop, though, I gazed up the stairwell and wondered whether there was an interesting view from the roof. I climbed an extra few floors and emerged onto a rubbish-filled rooftop with a view of only the surrounding buildings and billboards.

On the roof next door, somebody had left a pile of rose petals to dry in the sun. (A romantic gesture?) I took a few photos, gazed at my reflection in the mirrored windows of an office tower across the street — and noticed, out of the corner of my eye, two men staring at me from an even higher rooftop a few buildings away.

Startled, I looked up. One man took a drag on his cigarette. They continued to stare. I wondered what they were doing up there and my mind flashed to the climax from Infernal Affairs when Tony Leung sneaks up on Andy Lau with a gun. A bit unnerved, I ducked back into the stairwell and went down to the bookstore.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Wednesday December 22 2010at 09:12 am , filed under Asia Pacific and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Responses to “Hong Kong Rooftops: You Are Being Watched”

  • YTSL says:

    What a cool experience/story, Chris! Though, yes, I agree that it would feel unnerving in real time! :D

    Speaking of rooftops: I have part access to one on account of living where I do (in a tong lau). Unfortunately, said rooftop is too cluttered for comfort. Also, I have to admit to finding myself wishing for rain many a summer’s weekend so that people won’t go up there to effectively barbecue on my roof! :D

  • RPC says:

    This may be linked to elsewhere on the site but Rufina Wu and Stefan Canham have a fabulous book on rooftop settlements in HK –

    Portraits from Above: Hong Kong’s Informal Rooftop Communities


  • In my hometown Taipei, rooftop is also the no-go area. It’s the void in the city – people take chance to throw junks, or to claim more spaces by roof extensions. This year I have visited the rooftop of our apartment in Taipei. I’m so surprised, after not visiting it for more than 8 years, an intricate structure made of salvaged wood has occupied the entire roof scape. The maker, Mr. Cheng, is an 80-years-old veteran and one of the residents of our apartment, said that building up this structure keeps him active and vigor. Apparently, the rooftop has become Mr. Cheng’s leisure playground.