Beijing Steel Works is a rare beast in the Urbex world. The site is in an almost vacuum state where it feels like all the workers just put down their tools one day and left. The machines have been left as if one turn someone will turn on the plant again.
The site is huge with more rust and corrupted cranes, pulleys, and conveyor belts that you could see in a week. The crane-like structures that you can see in the pictures apparently shifted unrefined steel to conveyor belts which stretch across the complex.
The site is massive in scale and is punctuated by enormous machines, with pipes and cooling units galore. The urbex explorer must be very careful here as the overhead structures creak in the wind and bits regularly fall off.
These metal dragons seemed to be used to scoop out the unrefined steel and shift it up onto the conveyor belts. They have big blunt teeth, and ugly faces.
Train tracks also criss-cross the plant, there are plenty of abandoned trains, carriages, and miniature train stations to be found. Jump over the outer wall, avoid the security guards, follow the train tracks and in whichever direction you travel, you’ll find some Urbex treasures.
This is a huge site, so be sure to take your time. Once you visit this place once, you’ll be addicted. If you ever want to pay a visit, just contact me on email@example.com, and I’ll show you around. Also be sure to check out Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube for great new videos every week.
Alright, Burbex is going to let you have it. One of his favourite best-kept secrets. He’s going to tell you about the PLA Hospital. It is not the first time that Burbex has found abandoned hospitals. In the Tianjin Chest Hospital, Burbex was constantly being chased by his shadow, and his echo kept whispering replies. You never get lonely in an old hospital. But this secret place was different.
This story, like many others, starts out in a pub. Supping the craft beer at The Great Leap Brewery, Burbex heard the words “huge abandoned castle” float through the smoky air towards him. Burbex’s ears dragged him to where a drunken Scotsman was slumped at the bar.
“Can I buy you a beer?” Burbex asked. “That you can, pal!” The Scotsman replied. Two beers later, the Scotsman leaned forward in a conspiratal whisper, “It’s out there in the woods, hic! A huge fuckin’ castle, in the woods. It’s haunted they say. I ne’er found the place, but maybe you’ll have more luck.”
The Scotsman gave Burbex a rough idea of where the castle was located before falling asleep sitting straight up. Burbex wrote: ABANDONED CASTLE WOODS on the back of his hand, just in case he forgot it in the morning.
Burbex spiralled around in the grey dusty forest. It was biting cold, and his usual strategy of walking around in circles until he found what he was looking for, wasn’t really working. Sometimes you must lose yourself to find what you’re looking for.
This was certainly a strange forest. The pine trees were spaced too far apart, and the echoes of a man bellowing Italian opera echoed between the trunks. Whichever way Burbex went, the opera followed him. He was just on the verge of giving up the search for the castle, when he caught a glimpse of grey brick.
Hidden in the forest was the castle. The Scotsman had exaggerated its size, but with turrets and a huge gate, it had to be the place. Burbex slid under the gate, and then contorted himself through a broken window pane.
Inside, corridors snaked into the distance, and a cold chill travelled down Burbex’s spine. Burbex made his way to the top of the building. This was his usual strategy, get to the top and then come down. That way if he was chased by dogs, guards, or Beijing ghosts, he could still take photos on the way down.
Burbex took the stairs up to a room which he would come back to again and again – The Nightingale Room. Florence looked down from a huge portrait on the wall. She looked over empty beds and resuscitation equipment.
Since that first time Burbex found The Nightingale Room, Florence has been taken down, and the room emptied, but the fine architecture of the room remains.
In cupboards, Burbex found imitation pistols, and boxes of empty chlorazopan ampules, a schizophrenia drug.
Burbex has been back here many times and brought other urbexers along too, and there is always something new to discover. On a night expedition, Burbex ate “the fruits of the forest” and could see a million tiny fairies sleeping in dewdrops at the tips of leaves on the trees. They whispered a secret to Burbex.
Burbex ran though the corridors, through The Nightingale Room and up onto the flat roof. He tore thick electrical cable from the wall and abseiled into a hidden courtyard. Burbex had found the luxury wing of the hospital.
Inside were rooms with four-poster beds, the rotting floorboards sucking them downwards. Other rooms had art rehabilitation equipment, and in the dining room, paintings of French cheese and wine blackened with mildew. Burbex ran for the roof.
The black forest hummed silently, but then the silence was broken by the opera singer hidden somewhere in the forest. In the darkness, the song was not so threatening. Burbex sat and grinned enjoying his heightened sense of perception.
Burbex does not give up his secrets easily. The ghosts at Chaoyang 81, he kept a secret for a long time, at least until the movie came out and the house was renovated. The undead inhabitants of The Nationalist Hotel were familiar with Burbex, but then they were evicted and the neighbourhood gentrified.
Burbex doesn’t have many secrets left, but if you want to find out a few places, be sure to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to bring mushrooms enough for everyone though.
By the way, have you checked out the new video page yet? It has links to all Burbex’s latest videos both in Beijing and around the world. Plus, don’t forget to follow Burbex on all your favourite social media sites:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once down in the parking garage, Burbex got seriously confused. Exits led to dead-ends filled with weird pipes…
… and homemade stepladders.
An abandoned three-wheel truck stood rusting next to the exit surrounded by a veritable sea of rubbish.
After many false starts, Burbex eventually found his way into the darkened central staircase and began the broiling ascent to the top.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More ventilation chutes were capped with metal chef hats.
Turning to leave, Burbex noticed a cement hand print on the wall. Was it waving goodbye or telling him not to come back again.
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.
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.
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!
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 email@example.com.
It has been eight years since the Olympics were held here in Beijing. The Beijing Olympics was the first international event that catapulted China into the world’s attention. At the time there were signs of the Olympics everywhere, but since 2008 these symbols have all but disappeared.
The few signs that were left behind have rotted away like The Olympic Homko Ghost Town are a sore reminder to most Beijingers that the Olympics was only a short-lived glory for the city and the country. It was with great pleasure then that Burbex found not only a mall abandoned during construction, but also the the abandoned Olympic mascots rotting in the long dry grass.
For those of you not familiar with the Beijing Olympic mascots, there were five of them called Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, and Yingying, and Nini. Their names all stuck together “Beijing Huanying Ni” means “Beijing Welcomes You.” Above you can see Beibei doing a swan dive into the yellow Bejing soil.
Jingjing, who was black and white and looked like a panda was noticeably absent, but Huanhuan, who is red and has hair like the Olympic flame, was found hiding her shame behind a bush.
Yingying in yellow was trying a bit of cycling on a very unreliable looking bike, no wonder she crashed into the thorny bushes – poor ying ying. For an animated Olympic mascot she does have a nice rump like you can see below…
The last of the mascots Burbex found was the reclusive Nini, who in his post-Olympic shame tried to hide his green face from the camera. But wait… what’s this? Could it be that there is one more mascot to add to the five?
Of course, who could possible forget the Paralympic mascot Niuniu the Cow, which literally means “Little Cow”. Burbex was not quite sure what the connection between para-Olympians and juvenile bovines was, but in Chinese “niu” can also mean “awesome” as in the popular Chinese phrase “niubi” which literally means “cow’s cunt” or “fucking cool!” Does this means the Paralympics was “fucking cool? or a load of bull?
As you can see in the background, it was not the mascots that first drew Burbex to this yellow grass paradise, but rather the incomplete shopping mall, split in two and hidden behind a very fancy French restaurant.
The mall itself is located close to the embassy district around Liangma Qiao (that’s Shining Horse Bridge in English – lots of animals in this report). The waste land around the mall is covered in weeds and dry grass that cover up all kinds of abandoned structures, but it was the mall that Burbex was interested in early one morning.
Taking advantage of the morning sunlight, Burbex descended into the swampy cellar, where sunbeams were breaking their way through holes in the concrete to light up the subterranean world. The ground is soft underfoot and reminds you that large areas of Beijing used to be marshland.
Beams of sunlight lit up various enclaves like this half circle…
and this studly rectangle.
Burbex had to be very careful winding his way through the garden of rebar and cut off pipes with razor sharp edges. In fact climbing one set of stairs, an evil piece of rebar tore its way through the sleeve of Burbex’s favourite hoodie.
On the ground floor, staircases abounded and glassless window frames let in the morning light.
Burbex could also see the luxury housing over the fence next door to the mall.
He also suspected that the chalked grafitti on many of the columns was from the local children practicing their English compositions, “so that, in order to, so as to, in order that”. Burbex’s heart flushed to think that these young urbexers could write such good English.
One kid even seemed to be writing a cement-based novel…
The top floor boasted some great views of the swanky Marriott hotel in nearby Liangma Qiao as well as proving that Beijing does occasionally have blue skies.
Other windows just provided a great sense of symmetry over the whole site.
The real highlight of the mall, however, was the rooftop view looking out to the complex of high rises which seems to be taking forever to complete, probably another project going slow for lack of funds.
Again the view towards the Marriott Hotel was irresistible.
In closing, Burbex found that The Olympic Mascot Mall had a little bit of everything: a skanky cellar where lots of workers had pooed; cool window frames; a great rooftop; and of course a bunch of abandoned mascots. Not bad for an early morning’s work.
For all these reasons and more, Burbex awards The Olympic Mascot Mall with a firm B-. If you are a fan of other abandoned projects, be sure to check out The Guosen Mall with some of the best nighttime views of the city and also The Great Mall of China, which is probably never going to get finished.
If you want to come out with Burbex some time, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll be glad to take you on a double trip to The Olympic Mascot Mall and also The Solana Hotel which is just ten minutes walk away, and remember Beijing Huanying Ni!
“Sites that change with the seasons, those are the ones that you will never get bored with.”
Urbex is ephemeral. Some sites the urbexer will go to once or twice, and then returning they will find it demolished or gentrified. Capital Steel is in the process of being eaten alive by demolition crews, the Space and Science Museum is being pulled apart brick by brick, and the ghosts have been evicted from the Haunted Nationalist Hotel.
There remains only one place that is immune to demolition. A site so invisible and so forgotten that it has become part of the landscape. That site is The Chaoyang Park Ferris Wheel. Started in 2007, the ferris wheel was slated to be one of the tallest in Asia and would’ve provided first class views of the Olympic Volley Ball court, as well as the rest of the city.
Inevitably, the project ran out of funding and was shut down just after the foundations had been finished. That might be a disappointment for some, but for the urbexer this site presents an ever-changing underground landscape. In the summer, the site is almost impossible to get into. In the winter, when all the weeds have died off, the site is a cinch.
From above, the site looks a lot like a concrete skull. To enter into the flooded cranium of the site, the urbexer has to go in through the mouth of the skull. In October, the place was still flooded, but in the winter, the underground water turns to solid ice making it much easier to go into.
Underground lies a flooded maze of underground chambers where even the sound of your own breathing echoes into the shadows. Some corners are black as pitch and a heavy-duty torch is required. Further in, stairs and struts snake their way up to the limited daylight. This is the way the urbexer must follow.
Breaking out into the sunshine, the magpies who have colonised the place, shriek and say, “Get out of here, I was here first!” But as Burbex’s lucky bird, Burbex does not worry about the birds. Huge struts and other structures reach for the sky, and beg the urbexer to scale their rusty poles. From the top, the view is so vast that you cannot get a good shot of the whole site.
Once, you have escaped from the site, and are in the wilderness which surrounds it, the urbexer can find relics hidden in the brown sticky grass which rips at your clothes and whose fork-like seeds bury themselves in your clothes and shoelaces.
There are rusting sea cucumbers hidden in the yellow grass, like lego bricks hidden in a shag-pile carpet. These are the struts that never made it to the main sites. This place is a huge site, and probably one of the most beautiful in Beijing.
If the urbexer is looking for a grander scale, and their favourite colour is rust brown against an almost blue sky, this is the place to come. For all these reasons and more, Chao Yang Park Ferris Wheel is getting an honourable mention and with it a A* grade.
If you are interested in visiting Chaoyang Park Ferris Wheel, or any of the other great sites, like The Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park, which has a finished Ferris Wheel which floats in the breeze, or other incomplete sites like The Guoson Mall Towers, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.
Welcome back to the Guosen Mall twin towers, two mighty skyscrapers that loom over Dongzhimen in central Beijing. They sure do look pretty, but underneath their shiny glass surface lies a mess of concrete and steel. So many people have contacted me about these fine structures that a night time run was called for. What’s more I was joined by my French apprentice. C’est bien!
As you may remember from a previous post, Guoson Mall complex is a defunct shopping mall, office complex, and also features twin sky scrapers. The left-hand sky scraper is easily accessible, but the right-hand one is too dangerous to climb.
The skyscrapers are more than 34 storeys of back breaking climbing in the pitch black with only rolling dust and ghosts for company. The reward for this deadly climb? One of the best free views of Beijing in the whole city. Lucky for me and my apprentice, we had a clear windy night with perfect views. Enough chat, let’s look at those views.
Don’t look down…
No, really, don’t look down.
The tall building in the middle of the photo marks the centre of Beijing Central Business District.
Is that the ghost of a deceased worker about to relive his fatal jump?
The upper floors of the building were originally built for air conditioning units, but now the crossbeams just whistle in the wind.
The very top of the building is marked with a fake bank logo. City policy is, that if the building is incomplete, it must have a glass façade to surround the building keeping with the image of the city.
This is definitely not an urbex expedition with those suffering with vertigo, and be sure to have a good stretch before you climb the towers. Be sure to check out the rest of the complex Guoson Mall Complex. Don’t forget that if you ever want to visit one of these sites when you are in Beijing, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can set up a time to meet.
How many times have I been to Capital Steel, and how many times have I found new areas to explore. This latest trip was a bonanza of new finds.
Along with entering the lofts where coal was moved along on mile-long conveyor belts, co-explorer Vom and I went further into the plant than ever, coming clear out of the other side where the cooling towers are located.
Along the way we found the laboratory where we found everything pretty much as the scientists had left it on the last day. So many bottles, flasks and crazy machines.
Unfortunately, Vom got a touch of heat stroke, and threw up (hence the nickname), but are adventures have seen the whole plant covered now.
In the cool and shady labs, mosquitoes buzzed in circles while we investigates rooms ransacked by looters.
Plus there was enough lab equipment and machines left over to make even Walter White happy.
Most of the chemicals have either dried up or grown out of their bottles and onto the work surfaces.
The other part of the factory that was new to us, was the conveyor lofts which stretch across the complex.
These are covered in a thick layer of coal dust. In the operator’s room there still remains an old bag of sugar and a plastic spoon.
Oil sticks to all the surfaces, and then catkins stick to the oil, so everything has a tarred and feathered look.
But from atop the machines there is some beautiful symmetry to be found.
Capital Steel Laboratory – we salute you – Burbex is giving you a solid Grade A, but with the heatstroke comes an important reminder to take candy and water with you when you go urbexing.
Of course, if any time you want to come urbexing with me, just leave a message on email@example.com and we can arrange a time, make sure you bring a sick bag though.
Be sure to check out the other great Capital Steel pages:-
Just a stone’s throw from The World Trade Towers and right next to An Hua Qiao Subway Station is the derelict site of Beijing Space and Science Museum.
Along with the Planetarium and the The Natural History Museum nearby in the compound, all of these buildings are due for demolition soon.
The Space Museum has recently been abandoned by the security guards which makes entering much easier than before.
The museum is spread over nine floors, and the sixth floor opens out onto this awesome roof area affording some great views of the local area.
Unfortunately most of the building has been gutted, but there are a few exhibits remaining in a few hidden corners.
It is also very easy to get lost in the maze-like basement, but there are some great rooms to be found.
There are lots of bottles and specimens on display and in storage within the building.
One of the best features of the museum is the display about how ancient mines were dug.
Manikins of the miners are still down there in the dark gathered around their little fires.
The museum also has a great number of open spaces which are ideal for light-painting.
The central roof is made of glass panels which from the atrium below looks magnificent.
Like a lot of buildings in Beijing, it was built in the run-up to the Olympics and then just abandoned after the finish of the games. This is a relatively easy place to get into, and there is a lot to see, which is why this earns itself a hearty B-.
The aquarium and the horror house are easy to get into, but not much remains, but the Ferris Wheel is safely contained behind a metal fence. It slowly turns creaking in the wind.
The central island is assessable by a Disneyesque bridge with turrets and a huge gate.
Once you are past the gate, you have free rein over the park, the security guards are far too lazy to chase you this far.
Beyond the bridge is the aquarium and the horror house. Pedlo boats line the empty basin of the lake also the lakeside.
This is a perfect Scooby-Doo location as you poke around the horror house and listen to the creaking of the Ferris Wheel. The site is a little bare now, which is why Burbex is giving Floating Dragon Amusement Park a B+ grade.
By the way, if you liked this post, be sure to check out these other great leisure sites like Olympic Homko Ghost Town and Dalian Waterpark, plus feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to come along. Don’t forget to bring those Scooby Snax though.
On the smoggy outskirts of Beijing, far beyond where the subway line finally ends, and the dust dunes roll over the border into Hebei Province, right there on the border, that is where you will find the Great Mall of China.
Construction started five/six years ago when the small border town Yanjiao was slated to become the next border boom town. This led to a run on house building and general craziness in the area.
Years later, these dreams never came true, and the town, like the Great Mall of China, is deserted.
Getting into the mall is quite simple: find the tunnel under the nearby hospital…
go through it in the dark…
emerge and find the pipe under the bullet train railway…
go through the tunnel…
walk down the causeway and you are in.
While there is security, and by the sound of it heavy work going on, the place is virtually empty, and the two guys on the roof didn’t even pay any attention to me.
There is a vast underground complex of tunnels full of dust and supplies, but no workers to be seen.
Welding lights can be seen in the very distance at the end of the tunnels, and there is the occasional crash of metal on metal, but still no sign of people.
There are various tunnels that weave under the complex, and probably under the hospital too.
The blind bear stands on the road marking the way out. Be careful, there is a man who sells guard dogs nearby.