There is one thing about Hong Kong you can count on; no matter where you go in the city, there is some type of construction or refurbishment taking place. Just outside our building there is a skyscraper under construction. Luckily, it is not too noisy and it is not directly in our view.
And just up the street, there is a building being refurbished.
For refirbishment on the a building of any size or shape, an outer skeleton of bamboo is erected. It is then shrouded in a mesh-type fabric. Yes…..bamboo!
Recently in the South China Morning Post, an article appeared titled High-Wire Kings of the Last Frontier describing the men and the process for erecting these bamboo structures. It is an ancient trade and also a form of art. “It takes strength, skill and, most importantly, intellect to be a bamboo artist, erecting intricate webs of sky-high walls and platforms strong enough to hold a legion of construction workers.”
The bamboo is lashed together with a strap material. The men that build these structures are highly trained by fellow workers on site and over a period of years. They start measuring and cutting the bamboo and work up to designing the overall structure. In the past, these men were not educated for the job in any other way than by on-the-job experience. It is a surprisingly low accident rate and the use of bamboo, if it were to fall, does not cause as much damage as steel Usually, you must know someone already in the profession to get in and start training.. Starting salaries are around HK$350 (US$44.00) per day. Experienced hands make around HK$10,000 (US$1,265) per month according to the South China Post article.
Men crawl around on the structure, working on the construction or the refurbisment. If the building is just getting a facelift or painting, then the business remains open during the process. The scaffolding is constructed around doorways and signs.
The days may be numbered for this profession and use of bamboo. Availibility of bamboo worldwide has increased, making it difficult to get bamboo supplies; and new governmental regulations now require new workers to complete a year-long course in a classroom and not through on-the-job training. It is less appealing to new trainees.