A young ur­ban ex­plorer takes to the rooftops, cam­era in hand.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - HOBBIES - By VIC­TO­RIA SOFIA star2@ thes­tar. com. my

FOR Ibnu An­war, rooftops are his play­ground. We’re not talk­ing about a two­s­torey house rooftop, but tall sky­scrapers or any build­ing’s rooftop where he can get a good view of the city.

Armed with a cam­era, the thrill- seeker is on a mis­sion to con­quer some of the tallest sky­scrapers in the world. So far, he has been on St Stephen’s Basil­lica in Hun­gary, 12- e Heroes of Stal­in­grad Ave, Ukraine, The Ad­dress Ho­tel Dubai and Bris­tol Ho­tel de Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina.

Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, 30- year- old Ibnu An­war ( whose real name is Mohd Tarmizi Mohd An­war) has a unique pas­sion for rooftop­ping.

For the unini­ti­ated, rooftop­ping is a con­tro­ver­sial prac­tice of scal­ing sky­scrapers to take dizzy­ing pho­to­graphs. De­spite its ob­vi­ous dan­gers and risks, there is a grow­ing num­ber of en­thu­si­asts – some who call them­selves ur­ban ex­plor­ers.

Sadly, many of these en­thu­si­asts have pushed the en­ve­lope, and seem to be tak­ing in­creas­ing phys­i­cal and le­gal risks in re­cent years. It is, how­ever, not a new pur­suit. A 2015

Guardian re­port sug­gests that rooftop­ping, or “builder­ing”, has been around for more than 80 years, cit­ing a 1937 book called

The Night Clim­bers Of Cam­bridge as be­ing full of pho­to­graphs of ag­ile young men ( ex­clu­sively) climb­ing up drain­pipes, over fences and bal­anc­ing atop the spires of the old col­leges.

For Ibnu An­war, it is thrilling, fun and keeps him fit.

De­pend­ing on his mood and sched­ule, he usu­ally “rooftops” on week­ends with his friends. Cur­rently, he is work­ing as a light­ing spe­cial­ist con­sul­tant in Dubai, United Arab Emi­rates, which has lots of tall build­ings – like the Ma­rina 101 – af­ford­ing panoramic views of the city.

This hobby is more than just a phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, it is also a form of ur­ban pho­tog­ra­phy.

Iron­i­cally, it be­gan from a an in­no­cent photo from the top of a new build­ing taken back in 2007, when Ibnu An­war worked as an in­te­rior de­signer at a con­struc­tion site in Dubai.

“It be­came more se­ri­ous and I got addicted to shoot­ing from an­gles above. It was breath­tak­ing,” Ibnu An­war ex­plains.

Friends also in­flu­enced Ibnu An­war to get into rooftop­ping. His “rooftop­per” friends, mostly from Rus­sia and Ukraine, sparked his cu­rios­ity in this hobby.

To him, rooftop­ping has been a lib­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause it gives him the priv­i­lege of be­ing able to view cities from unique an­gles.

“There is a sense of free­dom that can­not be de­scribed, view­ing the city from an un­ob­structed view – it is mag­i­cal.

“Some­times I will just climb to the roof of sky­scrapers just to chill and en­joy the scenery,” he says.

His first at­tempt was quite an un­pleas­ant one.

Ibnu An­war re­calls, “The first time I did this ac­tiv­ity, my legs were trem­bling, dizzi­ness over­whelmed me and my heart­beat went crazy. These ver­tigo- like symp­toms and the adren­a­line rush seeped into my body.”

But the feel­ing of be­ing high above is some­thing in­de­scrib­able.

“It is a to­tally dif­fer­ent feel­ing from stand­ing on a bal­cony. The amaz­ing bird’s eye view, look­ing down on the city – traf­fic full of ‘ tiny’ lit­tle cars and peo­ple – can cer­tainly make your heart skip a beat!” he says.

There is no spe­cial tech­nique to hit the rooftop: only tremen­dous courage and self- con­fi­dence, plus a few days of prepa­ra­tion prior to scal­ing to the top.

“You have to be there two or three days be­fore the ac­tiv­ity to study the struc­ture and plan how to reach the highest peak of the build­ing. It is also im­por­tant to find the per­fect po­si­tion for the cam­era to get a great shot,” he ex­plains.

His pas­sion for trav­el­ling also makes it eas­ier for him to in­dulge in his hobby. To date, he has left his mark in nearly 18 coun­tries. But there is one par­tic­u­lar build­ing that re­mains his favourite.

“It is The Ad­dress Ho­tel in Dubai be­cause you can see the stun­ning view of the ‘ danc­ing’ foun­tain at Burj Khal­ifa,” he says.

De­pend­ing on the build­ing it­self, he would take the lift to reach the rooftop and climb the spire to reach the peak of

the build­ing. There’s not much gear in­volved ei­ther.

“I only use gloves for a firmer grip on any steel ma­te­ri­als such as the lad­der.”

“Thank­fully, I’ve never got­ten badly in­jured and I am still in one piece. This ac­tiv­ity is very dan­ger­ous be­cause one small mis­take may cause you to fall and the rest is his­tory,” he says.

Ibnu An­war does not en­cour­age any­one to sim­ply try rooftop­ping, un­less they know what they are do­ing. To keep him­self fit, he swims reg­u­lary.

“It’s only dan­ger­ous when some­one does not have the skills. Ev­ery­thing we do comes with a risk,” he says.

The young man also warns about se­cu­rity in build­ings and irk­ing law en­forcers. Most rooftops, he shares, are closed to the pub­lic for safety rea­sons.

“I’ve been caught twice by the se­cu­rity guard at the same build­ing in Dubai and got chased out of one of the tallest build­ings in Ukraine,” he re­veals.

In­deed, the au­thor­i­ties have been clamp­ing down on rooftop­pers – last year, rooftop­ping pi­o­neer Tom Ryaboi was ar­rested in Toronto, Canada and ear­lier this year in Egypt, Ger­man tourist An­drej Ciesiel­ski was also ar­rested for climb­ing The Great Pyra­mid of Giza.

The most tragic in­ci­dent in rooftop­ping how­ever, hap­pened to An­drey Retro­vsky, who fell to his death af­ter a failed rooftop­ping at­tempt in Rus­sia.

Ibnu An­war says his fam­ily and friends re­main sup­port­ive of his hobby.

“They con­stantly ad­vise me to be care­ful,” he says.

Look­ing back at his ex­pe­ri­ence, rooftop­ping has changed the way he views the world.

“We al­ways for­get to look around and see how beau­ti­ful the world is be­cause we are busy work­ing and liv­ing a busy life­style. We need to start look­ing at things from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives.” he says.

So what’s next for Ibnu An­war? The Petronas Twin Tow­ers, of course.

“I wish I could climb the Petronas Twin Tow­ers be­cause as a Malaysian, I am proud of this iconic build­ing!” he says, laugh­ing.

Rooftop­ping has been a life- chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Ibnu An­war.

“I feel like I’m the king of the world,” he de­clares.

To see some of his fas­ci­nat­ing ex­ploits, fol­low Ibnu An­war on in­sta­gram @ de­sert_ way­farer

— IBnu An­WAr

2 Are you afraid of heights? Ibnu An­war in Gul­liver, Kiev


— IBnu An­WAr

4 On the top of St Stephen Ba­si­cila, Bu­dapest.

— IBnu AWnAr — ALEXAn­DEr rEMnEV

1 Sky is not the limit for Ibnu An­war as he looks on the streets of Dubai from Mil­len­nium Tower. 3 On top of his favourite build­ing, The Ad­dress ho­tel in Dubai.


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