A Right Royal Mess – The Royal Hotel – Grade B+

Located at the end of the Shijia Hutong, directly opposite Dengshikou Subway Station Exit A, the Royal House (国赫宫) is a gorgeous example of French architecture. Hidden behind the surrounding yellowing sycamores, its majestic windows and four cascading rooftops stretch up into the blue winter sky, making for a home that would make the Hunchback of Notre-Dame proud. Nearby, a Beijing baoan sits in his metal booth outside the compound’s ominous black gate, socks off, feet up, snoring gently as we pass.

A stone’s throw from Wangfujing Shopping Street and 800 meters from Chang’an Road, it seems inconceivable that a property in such a location should fail so dramatically, especially given that it’s the spitting image of the ultra-plush Regent Hotel just down the road. But like all of the best French literature, the Royal House has a tragic story to tell, one of corruption and greed, rendering the luxury suites unoccupied, possibly forever.

In 2008, one year after its completion, Anjie Changdi Logistics company took charge of the sale of the complex. At the time, the project was worth an estimated RMB 2.1 billion, however, Anjie Changdi sold the project brutally short, pocketing RMB 500 million and dividing the sale between Hongyuan Real Estate and Yunnan Jinshan with 51 percent and 49 percent stakes, respectively. This is where matters began to get complicated.

In 2010, Hongyuan sold its stake in the property, giving Yunnan Jinshan full ownership of the Royal House. By this time, the property’s value had skyrocketed to RMB 3.1 billion meaning within the space of two years, Yunnan Jinshan made 500 percent profit. The only problem was that upon investigation by Soho Finance, neither Anjie Changdi nor Yunnan Jinshan actually existed and the latter was no more than a shell company – the registered address turned out to be farmland in Yunnan.

It was later discovered that Yunnan Jinshan and Anjie Changdi were registered subsidiaries of the Fujian Lijin Group, of which Chen Longji, the richest man in Fujian, was the owner. Although it is owned by the subsidiaries, the Royal House is ultimately controlled by Chen, who is holding the project hostage waiting for the price to increase even further.

Today, the 58 luxury apartments ranging between 210 and 463sqm remain empty and unfurnished. Baoanoccupy some of the ample office space on the ground floor, but the silence in the enormous two-level underground parking lot is deafening. Forget Quasimodo, the only residents now are pigeons circling the building, flying in through the open fourth-floor windows, home to their luxury roost.

Station 51 – Beijing – Grade B-

“What? He got deported.” The glass of Black Silk from Legend aimed at my mouth gets lost along the way. “Well, you know they take security pretty seriously down there you know. They don’t want Johnny Foreigner poking around.” The stout half-soused Scotsman points a finger. “Make sure you stay away from (garbled speech)!” He shifts on his stool. “I gotta piss.” As he stumbles away I grab the Sharpie from my pocket and write on the back of my hand.

I wake up head pounding. Black Silk lives up to its name on the way down, but it’s like sandpaper on the brain the next day. I roll over and notice I’ve made a note on my hand. STATION 51. I crumble out of bed and open my laptop. After an hour of ragged research on Baidu, I find a 1980s map of the Beijing subway. Something doesn’t look right, Pingguoyuan, the current terminal stop for line one, has two extra stations beyond it, stations 51 and 52.

After lining up the old map with current maps, I find two stations up in the hills on either side of a small mountain. The only clue as to their location is the canal leading up the mountainside. My hangover makes a sudden departure. I dress quickly and run for the door.

Two hours later, I’m halfway up a mountain exploring the structure of a massive canal lock. It’s beautiful in its ugliness. From the top, I can see a patch of wasteground – a likely spot for an abandoned subway station. Climbing down I go onto a dusty track where a sign warns foreigners to turn away. I’m in too deep now. I step onto the wasteland, and there, like familiar friends in an unfamiliar place, are three subway entrances.

Granted, they’re not all shiny and new, but they’re radiating 1970s Communism. Two of them are bricked up, but the third has a rusting blue door. There’s something down there and I want to get in. I pull as hard as I can on the door handle, but it doesn’t budge. Where’s a crowbar when I need one? I look down to my left, a dead dog stares at me blankly from wilted grass. This isn’t going to work. I’ll have to come back another day. What about Station 52?

I go deeper into no man’s land and suddenly come across train tracks going through a tiny village, dried maize piled up on doorsteps. Stray dogs run up and down the street barking. I follow the tracks. There it is! You can’t not notice it. It’s a huge tunnel at the base of a mountain. The other thing you can’t help but notice is the massive military complex surrounding the opening of the tunnel – Red Army trains and carriages on the tracks. The word “deportation” forms in a thought bubble above my head. By the time it has popped, my legs have carried me back to the safety of Legend. “You still here?” The Scotsman sounds surprised. “I wasn’t expecting to see you again.”

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out the latest episode of Burbex on YouTube, where Brin explores an abandoned at school and discovers some newspapers from 1976 whose history has been erased over the last forty years.

2008 Beijing Olympic Village – Grade A+

If you are interested in learning more about abandoned Olympic sites in Beijing, why not head over to Burbex on YouTube and check out the abandoned Olympic Beach Volleyball Court.

Urban Exploration is all about peeling back the layers of a city like a massive onion. While it is true that Beijing can often bring tears to the eyes, that’s where the onion analogy ends. If you try to unpeel Beijing, you’ll get through layer after layer only to discover nothing at its core. That’s why Beijing can often seem so mysterious. This is nowhere more noticeable than with Beijing urbex favourite Homko Olympic Village.

The official story goes The Homko Olympic Village was built to house the Olympians during the 2008 Summer Olympics, however the Olympic teams rebuked the offer to stay in the luxury villas as pollution in the capital reached hazardous levels and the athletes feared for their health. As a result, the village never reached completion and was left to rot.

The more complex story goes that before the construction of Olympic Forest Park, this area of Beijing was a huge desolate wasteland home to junkies and bums. It was at that time Beijing North Star was buying up land and building luxury villa complexes. Unfortunately, the Homko Villa Complex, which was almost complete, run afoul of the dreaded Beijing Urban Planning Department, which ordered its demolition.

The demolition was suspended during the construction of the massive Olympic Forest Park, and it is said that officials lived within the villas at the time. That is highly doubtful given how rundown the villas are, and how the cement floors are prone to collapsing into the underground streams beneath (it’s happened twice to Burbex). Whatever the case, after the completion of the park, the villas still remained cordoned off and protected by solitary Beijing Baoan.

The true story, or at least the closest you’ll ever get to it, is that the whole complex was illegally owned by the notoriously corrupt Red Cross of China, who adamantly deny any connection with the village. It all got even murkier when it was revealed that none of the villas had property deeds, and that the village is now under the management of Olympic Forest Park.

Like any of the best urbex sites in Beijing, Homko Olympic Village has a tangled history of corruption and deceit, an image which is only strengthened when Beijing Baoan escort you from the site and force you to erase the photos from your phone. Also be warned, as beautiful as this site is, the interiors are extremely dangerous, please take care while exploring.

Dragon’s Peak Lodge – Hong Kong – A+

Burbex has lived in China since 2004, but even he is not immune to the wiles of the Public Security Bureau, who have this week sent him to Hong Kong to update his new visa. You might have guessed Burbex is not a big shopper and certainly isn’t going to push through the mainland tourists to buy cans of milk powder. But if you want to get away from the people mountain people sea, there is a place you can go where it is always quiet.

Up hidden amongst the winding paths that dissect The Peak, set on three levels you can find the decaying pre-war mansion Dragon’s Peak Lodge, or as its better known, “The Most Haunted House in Hong Kong”. Although it has some of the choicest real estate in Hong Kong, it has fallen foul to the the usual triple whammy of corruption, bad fengshui, and ghosts.

Apparently the original owner of the house which was built before World War 2 went bankrupt, and the subsequent owner died in the house. Later it is reputed that the Japanese occupied the property and several Catholic nuns were decapitated in the grounds. The gruesome reputation of the property made sure that it lay derelict for decades.

No. 32 Lugard Road last changed hands in 2004 for HK$76 million, but renovations have been constantly thwarted by construction crews who are convinced that the building is haunted, and in which they have heard an unseen child’s cries. The closest that Burbex got to any living creature nearby was an enormous porcupine that raised its quills and secreted some kind of pungent piss into the surrounding air.

The premises is set over three different levels, the main four-story house with ample attic space on the highest level, the staff quarters where a tower of 1980s washing machines still stands features in the middle level, and smaller art studios can be found on the bottom level. The house itself also faces out onto a massive garden, which in turn commands an incredible view of the bay on a clear day.

If you’d like to find out more about Burbex, why not check out Burbex on YouTube? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_nFYkcLFjn3IcyQTLy04Ig?sub_confirmation=1

Urbex University – Kaifeng – Grade B+

Kaifeng… um? There’s not a lot to be said about the place really. It’s got a good food street where you can get all kinds of chuan’er and those bins full of old chuan’er skewers looking a lot like massive porcupines. It’s got a fancy hotel with hot springs that smell particularly sulphorous, good for the skin apparently. No, not a lot to say about Kaifeng really. Oh, except maybe that enormous abandoned university right in the middle of the city.

That’s one of the things about these faceless cities, they often have the best forgotten sites. Burbex wasn’t expecting much when he jumped over the fence, least of all an abandoned library, chemistry lab, sculptures and a shoe full of blood, but that’s one of the draws of urban exploration, it’s full of surprises.

Burbex tries to look the part when he goes exploring, tight black clothes that don’t snag easily, and Nike Air Max which are great for softening his landings. Broken glass was everywhere, literally more blades of glass than grass on the expansive lawns. As Annie Lennox suggests, walking on broken glass is no mean feat, but Burbex successfully crunched through the glass on tiptoes and found his way into the library.

In something reminiscent of the beginning of Ghostbusters, dozens of book file card cabinets had been flung open and cards covered the floor. On the walls portraits of Einstein and Marx looked down with their inspirational quotes, but looking more simian than human, think Planet of the Apes.

In the sculpture department, Burbex found Chinese rip-offs of David by Michelangelo, which were at least more human-looking than the hairy-faced Darwin. It was around this time Burbex noticed a wheezing sound coming from his right Nike, accompanied by a squelch. A shard of glass had not only gone right through the Nike causing it to deflate the bubble, but also right through it the sole of his foot causing the shoe to fill with blood. Apparently, you only need three tetanus shots in your whole life, so Burbex was pretty sure he was safe against lockjaw, but hobbling back to the hotel with that squelch not only deflated his shoe but also his pride.

Later, sitting in a sulfurous hot tub examining the injuries, Burbex decided that Nike Air Max are no longer part of his kit, after all that’s the third pair he’s popped. First pair, nail in Guosen Mall, second pair jumping from a wall in the abandoned Olympic Volleyball Court. Back to skate shoes maybe? Please remember that exploring abandoned places can be very dangerous not just for your health but also your shoes. Please take care when you’re exploring.

If you’d like to find out more about Burbex, why not check out Burbex on YouTube? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_nFYkcLFjn3IcyQTLy04Ig?sub_confirmation=1

VR 360° Tour – Abandoned Cooling Tower – Beijing

In this fantastic episode of Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration, Brin is using the amazing Nikon Keymission 360 VR camera to give you an amazing tour of an abandoned cooling tower in Beijing. Check out the amazing views by using the controller in the top left hand corner, or put on your VR headset for the best experience.

Plus if you are interested in visiting some of the most exciting scenes and sites that Beijing has to offer, why not check out www.alltheroomsblog.org at the link below:

https://www.alltherooms.com/blog/place-to-see-beijing-skyline/

Man of Steel – 2nd Island Steel Works – Grade A+

Looks like the Joker’s Lair in Tim Burton’s Batman

Everyone knows that when it comes to urban exploration, Burbex is a junkie, not one of those junkies that climbs on top of high rooftops and cranes for that electric meth buzz, more like an opium junkie that searches for a quiet corner to curl up in and hide from the world whilst chasing the dragon.

Don’t look into the abyss…

Burbex has trouble with living in North East China, the pace of life and the noise is just too much sometimes, and when he found this abandoned Steel Works on the edge of the city, he knew he had found his new opium den. 

Steel Works Spires

A myriad of spires pierce the gray sky from within the complex. Whereas others might follow such spires in search of cathedrals where they bow down and prostrate themselves before God, Burbex follows the spires in search of quietude, and this place does not disappoint.

Vertical angles

The complex itself is unusual in a number of ways, diagonal bridges and vertical chimnies dissect the landscape, but between the dissected spaces lay little reminders of the traditional, little humanities that show this place was once inhabited by tens of thousands of workers.

A Steel Fox Hides in the Industrial Undergrowth

Dormitories overlap with massive furnaces, kindergartens and basketball courts with the huge smelting domes. In this place there is no divide between the industial and the human, it is a defunct automaton from another age.

Off The Hook

Yet like the promise of opiates, which are at the same time comforting and threatening, there also is a strong sense of danger in the complex, the souls of long passed workers, shaking and banging the corrugated steel walls in warning ESCAPE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

The Tower

The Tower at the entrance to the smelting blocks stands dark and defiant, a monolith to a defunct religion. Burbex carefully climbed to the top to survey the whole site, each rusted stair a step of pilragmmage to the still faithful.

Coming Out of Their Shells

Coming to the end of his urbex opium high, Burbex felt comfortable in his own skin again and ready to face the world, such as it is, with a steely face and an iron constitution. 

If One Door Closes, Open A Window

By the way, if liked this post, why not check out the video exploration above and subscribe for more videos from Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration every week.

Japanese Playboy Mansion – Suicide Forest – Grade A+

Los Angeles to Tokyo Hareda only $645

Welcome to Mr. Matsumoto’s Playboy Mansion – I am Mr. Matsumoto, and while you’re here, I hope you will have a relaxing and enjoyable time. First of all, let’s get you a drink from our well-stocked kitchen.

Whiskey and soda perhaps? Always a favorite with our clients. Why not sit back and listen to some of our modern 1980’s tunes. We have both vinyl and 8-track.

One of the girls will be down shortly to keep you entertained, why not take a look at these great car models from 1983? Or if modern cars aren’t your thing, why not play some pachinko to pass the time.

Oh, here’s one of the girls right now, isn’t she lovely with her authentic blonde nylon hair. Such a typical Japanese beauty. What? You spilled your drink on your clothes. Don’t worry, you can borrow my sports jacket.

Don’t worry about a thing, everything is always so hurried in the modern world, just take your time and enjoy yourself. Once you’ve settled in, you’ll never want to leave!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the other great Suicide Forest post PORNO TRUCK STOP, and why not hop over to Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube for great urbex videos every week.

Porno Truck Stop – Japan Suicide Forest – Grade B+

Fly Los Angeles to Tokyo from just $645

Some facts about the Japanese are pretty well-known. It is known for example that the Japanese have an open love affair with pornography, which can be found in stores all around the country. It is further known that the Japanese are particularly fond of retro entertainment systems, and VHS was still popular into the early two thousands.

What is less known perhaps is that Aokigahara, better known as The Suicide Forest, which surrounds the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, is full of abandoned buildings, like hotel and houses, and in certain places whole villages can be found abandoned. All of these facts cross over in this abandoned truck stop Burbex discovered on the road which dissects the forest.

As well the obligatory cutesy toys left rotting on sideboards, and even a snowboard, which was presumably used on the snowy slopes of Mount Fuji…

Burbex also discovered cases full of VHS tapes of vintage pornography including classic titles like Final Outflow…

… Lady’s Body…

… and of course the legendary Anal Security Squad, banned in twenty countries.

What amuses Burbex is how the Japanese love of both pornography and cutesy, also know as kawayi, float right on the surface of Japanese culture and often crosses over and flows into every conceivable fetish.

That this truck stop is right on the edge of the notorious Suicide Forest is particularly telling, as while many foreigners, also known as gaijin, might be amused by these facets of Japanese society, there are many that rely on them to survive, and what happens when they can no longer hold on? Well, the forest is lovely dark and deep…

If you found this article interesting, why not check out Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration at the link above, where you can watch Brin exploring many of the old abandoned hotels and other buildings in and around The Suicide Forest.  Plus don’t forget to hit LIKE and SUBSCRIBE for new videos every week.