Category Archives: Apartment Block

JINGJIN NEW TOWN PART 1 – AMERICAN BEAUTY – GRADE B+

Ghost town… let that phrase sink in for a moment.

Does it conjure up images of Wild West one horse towns, tumble weeds rolling through the dusty streets, the doors swinging on the nearby saloon, the pianola playing haunting tunes under ghostly fingertips?

Now, take that image and throw it away. China is now the world leader in ghost towns, and they are nothing like anything you can imagine. Maverick urbexer Jude pestered Burbex to go on a roadtrip to the dusty suburbs of Tianjin to check out a new city called Jingjin New Town.

manhole-cover

You may remember that Burbex is no stranger to Tianjin having explored the ghostly Tianjin Chest Hospital earlier in the year. This was a completely different kind of project altogether though. As Burbex and Jude left the uncommonly blue skies of Beijing and went across the border into Hebei, the smog got thicker and thicker.

red-rooftops-in-smog

From the end of the Tianjin subway line, a minibus arrived just in time to take us the fifty kilometres to Jingjin New Town. Neither Burbex nor Jude knew what they were looking for, but as they travelled further the already toxic smog closed in further almost blocking the view altogether.

the-main-gate

Finally, poking through the smog clouds the peaks of some of the faux-ancient buildings could be seen. Enormous constructions were everywhere stretching as far as the eye could see (which wasn’t actually that far in the smog). Burbex and co. jumped off at one of the many entrances, and went into a packed internet bar for refreshments.

locals

No wonder the complex was empty, Burbex thought as he looked at the packed net bar (note the girl picking her nose up front). This was probably the premier entertainment venue in the whole city.

empty-apartment-blocks

The first part of the complex that the duo investigated were the tower blocks, which while in a quite lovely neighbourhood, were for the most part completely empty. A local resident said that it was common for families to buy apartments here so they could gain urban household registration for their children, meaning they have certain advantages in examinations. At the same time they could still retain their rural registrations which has other benefits.

city-in-smog

Sneaking up the roof of these near-empty buildings was a cinch. Out of the smog mirage, beyond the luxury villas and faux-americana villas, there seemed to be a palace calling to the explorers.

destruction-alley

The apartment blocks were divided from the villas by a scuzzy filth infested ditch which the explorers chose to circumnavigate. Taking the long way round the urbexers finally found their way into a parallel universe. Americana never looked so good. Burbex was just waiting for Freddy Kruger to appear and tear this dream to shreds.

nightmare-on-tianjin-street

Somewhat like the The Olympic Homko Ghost Town in Beijing, the houses are beautifully designed and are obviously intended for commuters, since most of them have adjoining garages and outdoor parking.

friday-the-13th

The houses are all very similar and just go on for ever and ever as the map below suggests. This was just one small section of a suburban area that stretches as far as the eye can see.

american-beauty

Of course, Freddy Kruger was not required to know that this place was not some beautiful dream. Many of the buildings are completely empty and falling down.

complex-map

The ones beside the river are in slightly better condition, but this is only because they have been squatted by the country bumpkin contingent of security guards, migrant workers, and janitors who run the place.

old-man-fishing

The security guards seemed very concerned when they saw the duo taking photos and ushered them away. When asked how many of these places were occupied the security guard replied about ninety percent. This was obviously bullshit as not a soul could be seen on this winter day.

no-fishing

Pushing further into suburbia the villas grew larger and more glorious until they suddenly transform into full-on mansions basking by marshy lakes. The irony of these mansions is that they are even more dilapidated than the smaller ones.

img_3720

Built on marsh lands, the mansions are prone to flooding, and most of the ones observed were impassable on the ground and basement floors. This simply meant that Burbex and Jude had a fair amount of climbing to do to get into the upper floors.

lonely-tree

But once onto the rooftops and the view of the sun slowly setting through the smog over the rest of the mansions was well-worth the visit. Burbex and Jude thought that they had already seen the best of what Jingjin New Town had to offer, but there was still a great deal left for them to discover.

as-the-sun-sets-in-the-west

By the way, if you are interested in real ghostly locations like The Qianmen Gate Haunted Hotel or cursed places with horror stories of dead workers and terrible fengshui like Longyan International Park, be sure to check out the rest of the site. Also be sure to check out this great article from Lazarus about Ghost Cities in China.

In the meantime, if you ever want to come out exploring, just get in contact with Brin by email at burbex@outlook.com, and you can set up a time to meet. Don’t forget to bring your pollution mask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. 10 FALLING DOWN STREET – BEIJING – GRADE C+

“sometimes to find your way, you have to lose yourself.”

This might as well be one of Burbex’s mottos. Most people who have come out with him before have noticed that Burbex has a pretty stellar sense of direction, weaving his way through the ruins of Capital Steel or Beijing Chemical Works, he always seems to be able to sniff out an elicit entrance or a sneaky exit.

Three Towers

It is true that Burbex does get lost sometimes. That is not completely true though, it is more like “getting turned around”. This was especially true at Longyan International Park, spiralling around in the labyrinthine darkness unable to surface. That in fact gave Burbex nightmares for a while. There are times however when a simple trip to the top turns into a puzzle.

IMG_9397

Located in one of the more affluent neighbourhoods in Beijing, Lido is where all the foreigners can usually be found buying their imported grub and drinking at Irish bars. Looming over the neighbourhood are three twin sisters – Lido No. 10 Apartments. These expensive looking sisters were abandoned during construction and begged Burbex for a little attention.

Tropical Trough

The sisters are located next to the building site for a new subway station. Once the subway station opens, these apartments are going to skyrocket in value, which may be why the developers temporarily abandoned construction waiting for the prices to increase even further. Burbex wondered if the sisters would fall apart before the subway station opened. Burbex climbed through the abandoned workers area to get in passing a very tropical latrine.

Hot Water Girls

Sneaking through the front doors of the middle building, Burbex followed the scattered building materials covered with the usual thick layer of grease attracting the dust.

Yellow Lobby

Once down in the parking garage, Burbex got seriously confused. Exits led to dead-ends filled with weird pipes…

Crimson Pipes

… and homemade stepladders.

Ladders

An abandoned three-wheel truck stood rusting next to the exit surrounded by a veritable sea of rubbish.

Red Truck

After many false starts, Burbex eventually found his way into the darkened central staircase and began the broiling ascent to the top.

Penthouse View

Stopping to explore every fifth floor, Burbex found that each has one enormous penthouse apartment and half a dozen smaller ones. Despite the smog that covered the city that day, the views were still quite impressive.

Missing Connection

Stripped wire littered the floor in many places where scavengers have been through scavving copper. This is a sure sign the building had been abandoned Burbex thought.

Don't Look at the Rules, just Look at the Results

Reaching the 20th storey, a quickly scrawled message read in Chinese: “don’t look at the process, just look at the results.”  This must have been the motto of the migrant workers who built the place Burbex thought as he trod in an ancient turd.

Lidu View

One the shit was scrapped off his foot, Burbex finally made it to the roof. Two oval-shaped structures serve up the view on a plate.

Burbex was getting hungry and munched on a Nature Valley Granola Bar – the essential urbexing snack. Be careful though, all that fibre will make you do a big poop.

Liangma Qiao

Three stout air ventilation ducts sprouted out of the uppermost summit of the roof. Throwing rusty bolts down the chutes, Burbex listened for their hitting the bottom, which took a good ten seconds.

Three Flumes

Peering over the edge, Burbex could see the adjoining office building with an empty swimming pool on the roof. The small pond next to it stood out verdant green on the grey smog background.

Greenpool

More ventilation chutes were capped with metal chef hats.

Chef's Hat

Turning to leave, Burbex noticed a cement hand print on the wall. Was it waving goodbye or telling him not to come back again.

Cement Hands

Back in  the weird basement again, an uncanny green light permeated the darkness leaving Burbex feeling a little uneasy. With that feeling he made a bolt for the exit ramp.

Green Room

Lido No. 10 is one of those strange sites that is just a hair’s breadth away from completion, but completely empty. Some of the penthouse suits at the top look phenomenal, but with the scattering of turds and used toilet paper, it could be anywhere. Burbex emerged from the underground labyrinth with a new sense of direction.

Getting the Green Light

For these reasons and more, Lido No. 10 gets a more than respectable GRADE C+. So if you feel like you are lost, feel free to get in touch with Burbex and you can wander aimlessly in the dark in great locations like Sunshine Park or everyone’s favourite dark studio at Beijing Film Academy. Who knows, maybe you’ll finally see the light!

Front View

By the way, if you liked this post, please leave your comments at the bottom of the page and click the LIKE button. Be sure to join the Facebook Page and you can contact Burbex via email at burbex@outlook.com.