Fung Lai-wong, scaffolder. Age: 40. Career path: I was born and educated in Hong Kong. After I finished secondary school I followed in my dad's footsteps and became a scaffolder. I never really thought of doing anything else because from 14 I had to help my dad out. He always needed help and there aren't so many people willing to do this job because of the danger of falling, and because some people can't take working at heights. Nowadays young guys can take the scaffolding down, but there aren't many who have learned the art of building it. My dad never taught me that much about scaffolding, but over the years I have become an expert through experience. I think I'm better at this trade now than my dad was. Today the risk is more attractive because scaffolding workers get paid $1,000 a day, plus meals and transport. Years ago wages were much lower. My dad and I opened our own company, Kin On Scaffolding, in 1980 and we had eight employees; now we have around 50. My dad retired a few years ago so I run the business now. I am married with three children. Fung's Day: I get up at 6.30 am and go for yum cha in Mongkok, where I live. At 8 am I meet my workers in the neighbourhood and give them their tasks for the day, then send them to various building sites depending on what projects we have on. The work we get ranges from big, $10 million operations to $150,000 jobs. I will then go to a site where the job requires more supervision than others, and check on the workers and the scaffolding. At 11.30 am I have a two-hour lunch break, then I return to work and perhaps go back to the site, or a different one. I also meet clients during the day. I have a short tea-break at 3.30 pm, then work until around 4.30 pm. If we have a pressing deadline on one of our sites I will go and work myself, perhaps until late at night. It takes about two days to build one floor of scaffolding, and we use bamboo because it's much cheaper aluminium, and knotting is quicker than using screws. It is also lighter to carry and work with. The company is doing quite well because a lot of our deals were made last year when the economy was still good. But I'm not worried about next year because the building trade seems to be quite prosperous. Ambition: Make $10 million and retire. Salary: I earn over $2 million a year. Kamal Pun, high-rise window cleaner for E.W. Cox Age: 20. Career path: I was born in Hong Kong, but my parents are Nepalese so we went back when I was three. I did my schooling in Nepal and returned here at 16. My brother and sister came with me, and we live together in Sham Shui Po. I became a window cleaner because I was not skilled enough to do anything else, and because there are many Nepalese window cleaners in Hong Kong - they introduced me to this job. Nepalese people are renowned for courage and handling heights, so it was a natural career choice for me. The company trained me for a few weeks, I got my gondola licence, and started working on the Bank of China Building, the Peninsula and a few shopping centres. At first I had to concentrate hard and for a few weeks my shoulders ached, but now it's second nature. Pun's day: I get to work at our office, based in the Bank of China Building, at 8 am and start preparing my equipment for the day. For the next 14 months we will be polishing the aluminium on the outside of the building as well as cleaning the glass. Some experts came from Germany to instruct us, because it has to be done in a special way so we don't scratch the material. I take all the equipment I need for the morning then go out at 8.30 am. Workers are allotted sections of the building, and we have to finish our quota for the day. The work is harder in the morning because we try to stay within the shadow of the tower. This is important because it reflects sunlight and it is terribly hot if we work in the sun. We break for lunch at 11.30 am and go back out at 12.30 pm until 3.30 pm. In the afternoons, if it is sunny, we work much more slowly. We don't work in the rain. At the end of the day I tidy up my equipment and go home. We work for only six hours because it's as much as we can handle. When I first started on this building I used to admire the view, but I don't look anymore, I just work. Working at height doesn't worry me because we are harnessed; even if we fell it wouldn't be a problem, and all our equipment is tied to the gondola too. We have to be careful, but it is a safe job. It can get a bit lonely. It is better when there are a few gondolas close by so we can talk while we work. Ambition: Learn a technical skill and become an electrician or tradesman. Salary: $15,000 a month, plus an annual bonus.