Category Archives: Construction

SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY – ETHNIC MINORITIES MALL – GRADE B+

What does it take to make an urbex site special?

pall-mall

First of all, it should be challenging enough to keep you interested. Usually the bigger the site the better. Weird architecture, or water features are always a bonus, and if it is somehow culture related, then that’s even better. Is it possible to find sites like that these days? You bet your ass!

algae-canal

Burbex is a big fan of abandoned shopping malls, and The Ethnic Minorities Mall is no exception. Burbex has passed by this place a million times, but unlike The Great Mall of China and Guosen Mall, the Ethnic Minorities Mall does not really have an outstanding exterior, but you should never judge an urbex by its cover.

aerial-view

This Mall is actually right next to one of the stranger theme parks in Beijing called The Ethnic Minorities Theme Park featuring all 56 of China’s ethnic minortities doing their ethnic activities like hearding goats (that’s not a joke) and dancing in their own respective areas. The Mall was probably intended for greater things, but was never completed.

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After a stealthy entrance, Burbex was confronted with an enormous glass covered atrium, which was fast filling up with the drizzling rain. The place was huge and some zigzag staircases led to the roof area, while incomplete staircase invited the causal urbexer to their doom.

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From the rooftop area, Burbex had a good view of the Ethnic Minority Park, the large structure below is from the Uighur Minority who are found in Xinjiang Automonous Region, or intimidating passersby into buying enormous date cakes on street corners.

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From inside the mall, Burbex spied on the pedestrians taking shelter from the rain. The old man below stood in the same position staring into space for at least ten minutes. Like the Mall itself, he wasn’t completely there.

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Posters on the walls boasted that the centre cost one billion yuan to build…

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… and that it was going to house KTV and Pawn Shops. Maybe the project would’ve been more succesful if it had concentrated on the other kind of “pawn”.

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The massive floor space made Burbex a little dizzy, and he had to watch his step for the canals full of algae green water that snake through the place, razor sharp rusting rebar lurking beneath the surface.

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By the way, if you are a mall rat or you want to check out some great abandoned malls like The Olympic Mascot Mall or The Great Mall of China just send Burbex an email at burbex@outlook.com and he’ll be happy to show you around.

 

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THE GREAT MALL OF CHINA – YANJIAO – GRADE A***

These days all you hear about in Beijing and beyond is about Chariman Xi Jin Ping and “The Chinese Dream”. It is actually very hard to define what this dream consists of or whether it is actually a nightmare. Whatever the case, the fences and hoarding surrounding many abandoned sites often feature these messages. Burbex was obviously having a wet dream when he revisited The Great Mall of China, one of the first locations on this website back in early 2015.

Panaromic View

Here is what the hoardings inside have to say about this magnificent site:

[The] Great Mall of China will be the world’s largest shopping mall with a thriving land area of 310,000 square meters and total built up area of 1.8 million square meters of commercial space offering shopping, entertainment, 3 theme parks, food & beverage outlets, leisure, residences, and offices all under one roof.

Where The Sun Meets The Sky

It will soon be the most sought after business and leisure destination in Beijing, Hebei, Northern China, and the entire China, being a one-stop lifestyle gallery right at your doorstep, Great Mall of China is the most remarkable and innovative property development in China.

The Bird Cage

The Great Mall of China was one of the first sites which Burbex featured on this website. Located outside in the dusty outskirts of Beijing, Burbex had been longing to return to The Great Mall, and really delve into the guts of what was supposed to be the largest mall in the world.

Eric Under The Ride

Accompanied by Eric aka Lazarus (above – bottom left), visiting from Canada, Burbex skirted the perimeter of the site, and then sliding over the back wall entered into the bird cage area that can be seen from the passing trains. More than a bird cage, this would better suit a pterodactyl from Jurassic Park.

The Bird Cage

Last time Burbex was here the cage was mostly empty. Research indicated that two concentric corkscrew roller-coasters were going to be built in this space. As usual, this is a case of the Chinese biting off more than they can chew. Now, however, the site has some more “conservative” amusements.

Hot Seat

The supports which look like blue jeans snake around the bird cage, most likely the supports for a roller-coaster. Burbex grinned as other amusement parks in Beijing like Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park have been stripped bare by looters and thieves.

Blue Trousers

Featured below is a ride called DISKO, Burbex was not really sure what that was about, a pirate ship maybe, but the huge arching grin brought a smile to Burbex’s face. Climbing up onto the higher floors behind DISKO, Burbex could see into the very heart of the complex, and he liked what he saw.

Beaming Smile

After the torrential rain the day before, the hidden water park was full to bursting, and streams of water cut their path through the many gaping holes in the roof, leaking into the pools filled with toxic green algae below. Ironically, this is probably more or less what it would’ve looked like had it ever been finished.

Where The Sun Meets The Sky

The space is absolutely enormous. The best way to get across the space is by following the edges of the pools, and then jumping onto the small concrete mushrooms to get across. There are walkways that hang ten of metres above the waterpark, but these were treacherous after the heavy rain and Burbex has a fear of dying.

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The waterpark is set on two levels, and the water from the second level likely would’ve poured down into the lower level. There are spaces that would’ve been changing rooms, saunas, and hot-tubs. Burbex tried to imagine the ghosts of the children who never came here.

Algae Slide

A mammoth water slide now chutes into a pool of toxic waste coloured algae. Burbex wondered whether he would mutate into an amphibian if he fell into the toxic mess.

Half n Half

The side of the waterpark opens up giving an expansive view of the Great Mall proper next to it. From the waterpark, Burbex and Lazarus decided to go for the triple and explore the mall itself.

Bruno

 Lazarus donned a safety helmet which he found along the way, and Burbex sneaked up endless escalators which all seem to just lead up into large dark empty spaces.

Escalating Crisis

Escalators and more escalators later lead to doors which lead nowehere. Rather than the Chinese Dream this is more like Escher’s Nightmare.

Door to Nowhere

There are huge areas of beautifully designed office space, but as is often so true with Chinese sites it is all surface…

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… and no depth.

Reflecting on Algae Pool

Everything rots, rusts, and decays into a slimy green mess distorting the reflections of the sky.

The Oval Room

Cavities and holes in the architecture look strangely sexual. What would Freud have to say about our Great Mall dream, Burbex pondered.

Blue Sky Vents

Burbex and Lazarus were poaching like eggs as the water from the flooded site evaporated in the midday sun.  The site shimmered as in a dream.

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Broken down fans and air conditioners offered no respite from the sweltering heat as Burbex explored the rooftops further.

Escalating Situation

Turning back into the dark depths of this abandoned dream, Lazarus and Burbex made their way to leave The Great Mall. For others it may have been a broken dream, but for the two explorers it was an urbex dream come true.

Making a Stand

The Great Mall of China doesn’t seem to know which way it is going. At the same time as workers steal steel from the site, other workers still plunge on with construction. For this dreamlike contradiction, Burbex awards The Great Mall of China the highest award possible, a solid A***.

Beaming Smile

If you would like to visit The Great Mall of China, or any other great watery sites like flooded The China Japan Friendship Hospital or the abandoned Dalian Water Park, be sure to get in touch with Burbex at burbex@outlook.com or simply leave a comment below, and we’ll see if we can make your China Dream come true.

CHAOYANG PARK FERRIS WHEEL – GRADE A*

“Sites that change with the seasons, those are the ones that you will never get bored with.”

Neither Up Nor Down

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.

Topsy Turvy World

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.

Under the Surface

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.

Three Strutting Lads

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.

Towering Inferno

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.

Verdent Acres

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.

Strutting Panorama

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.

Redrum

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.

Iron Sea Cucumber

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.

Artist Impression 2007

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 burbex@outlook.com.

Sonic RIP

 

 

 

SUNSHINE JURASSIC PARK – SUNSHINE PARK – BEIJING – GRADE B+

“How would I feel if this place was demolished?”

This is the question that an urbexer frequently will frequently ask themselves.

Underwater Sunshine

If you asked me about the Space Museum, which is currently being disassembled brick by brick, or The Nationalist Hotel, which has been half demolished, half gentrified, I would say that I am pretty sad to lose these familiar friends. The question does depend on what is going to take its place.

Sunshine Spills In

Sunshine Park is one of my favourite sites in Beijing, mostly because it is so quiet. I was worried when I saw the diggers move in, but then they replaced it with the only possible thing that I could accept… a dinosaur park!

Surface Pillars

Most of the original site still remains, but slap-bang next to it is a dinosaur centre, which is shaped like a huge dinosaur egg. From the roof of the old site, you can see the robotic dinosaurs roaring and scaring children. It is also only a hop, skip, jump from Ikea. Dinosaurs, Ikea, and urbex, sounds like a great day out.

M Pillar

Inside the original structure, things are much as they were before. The underground parking area is still flooded and deathly quiet. A few strands of weak blue light stream in through the openings in the roof and light up the water below.

Black on Yellow

The water is only a couple of feet deep and as soon as I find a good pair of wellington boots, I’ll wade in and take some water shots. Incidentally, fellow urbexer Misha Mushu and I released some baby turtles into the water last year. Provided the rusty water didn’t finish them off, they are probably thriving on the bugs in the water.

Pillars in the Mist

Unusually, this place has a lot more graffiti than you see in other places in Beijing. The now easy rear access now that the back wall has been knocked down, gives this place an almost gallery-like feel. Instead of curators there are ornery magpies giving their critiques.

Muddy Waters

If ever you are in the neighbourhood and fancy a peak at this place, followed by a plate of Swedish meatballs in Ikea, just drop me a line at bubex@outlook.com, and we can set up a time to meet up. Just turn right when you see the T-Rex.

Mossy Carpet

To check out the whole set, go to flickr, and be sure to subscribe to get more great Burbex pictures.

GUOSEN MALL NIGHT EXPEDITION- BEIJING – GRADE A***

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!

Towering Inferno

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.

Penthouse View

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.

The Bends

Don’t look down…

Dongzhimen from Above

No, really, don’t look down.

City Support

The tall building in the middle of the photo marks the centre of Beijing Central Business District.

Walking the Beams

City Scaffolding

Follow the Yellow Light Highway

City of Fallen Angels

Spectre on the Scaffolds

Is that the ghost of a deceased worker about to relive his fatal jump?

Cross Support

The upper floors of the building were originally built for air conditioning units, but now the crossbeams just whistle in the wind.

Blue Cross Sale

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.

Broken Bank Logo

Oakwood Figure of Four

Cross of Light

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 burbex@outlook.com, and we can set up a time to meet.

To check out the whole set click here.

 

 

 

 

CAPITAL STEEL – STEEL LABORATORY – GRADE B+

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.

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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.

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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.

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Unfortunately, Vom got a touch of heat stroke, and threw up (hence the nickname), but are adventures have seen the whole plant covered now.

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In the cool and shady labs, mosquitoes buzzed in circles while we investigates rooms ransacked by looters.

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Plus there was enough lab equipment and machines left over to make even Walter White happy.

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Most of the chemicals have either dried up or grown out of their bottles and onto the work surfaces.

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The other part of the factory that was new to us, was the conveyor lofts which stretch across the complex.

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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.

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Oil sticks to all the surfaces, and then catkins stick to the oil, so everything has a tarred and feathered look.

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But from atop the machines there is some beautiful symmetry to be found.

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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 burbex@outlook.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:-

Return to Capital Steel and Beijing Steel Works

GREAT MALL OF CHINA – YANJIAO – GRADE A-

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.

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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.

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Years later, these dreams never came true, and the town, like the Great Mall of China, is deserted.

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The Cage Level 3

Black and White Balustrade

Tunnel to the Welding Pits

Black Rooms

Getting into the mall is quite simple: find the tunnel under the nearby hospital…

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go through it in the dark…

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emerge and find the pipe under the bullet train railway…

Harmony Express goes to the Great Mall of China

go through the tunnel…

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walk down the causeway and you are in.

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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.

Black Room Unveiled

There is a vast underground complex of tunnels full of dust and supplies, but no workers to be seen.

Light Rooms

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.

Outside View

Bird Cage Long View

The Cage Height

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There are various tunnels that weave under the complex, and probably under the hospital too.

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The blind bear stands on the road marking the way out. Be careful, there is a man who sells guard dogs nearby.

OLYMPIC HOMKO GHOST TOWN – BEIJING – GRADE B+

Located in the green leafy area of Olympic Park in northwest Beijing, this beautiful ghost village was originally built to house the athletes and some of the staff for the Olympic Games back in 2008.

The huge club house in the middle of the complex features a large empty swimming pool and a myriad of dark karaoke rooms.

Unfortunately, half way through the construction, enough athletes said that the air quality in central Beijing was so poor, that they would stay outside the city. As a result, this place has been left to rot.

Attic Space

 

 

House with a Balcony

Twice I have fallen through the poorly constructed concrete floors into the flooded basements beneath. This is just such a perfect slice of eeriness urbexers should make this site a priority.

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There are a couple of security guards on the main gate, but people always manage to hop over the fence at the back for a quick peek. Be careful entering the houses though.

Windows to the Soul   Mockingbird Heights

Club from a Distance

   Beetlejuice's Fireplace

Every villa seems to have its own style and ambience. Each has its own fireplace. This one looks like the one in Beetlejuice.

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The clubhouse has quite a large swimming pool topped with a dome. The day I went a kitten could be heard mewing loudly, probably stuck in one of the pipes somewhere.

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The streets are long overgrown and weeds and small trees break through the cheap concrete. All that is missing is a tumbleweed.

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Four-Eyed House

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Here is the naked lady of the park, with the Olympic Park in the background. She looks a bit lonely, maybe you should pay her a visit.

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This is an eerie place to visit, so make sure you go on a sunny day. Seeing that there is so much to see here, and also because it is a semi-Olympic site, it gets a firm B+ from Burbex.

If you want to come and join me for this or any other site, please just send me a message on burbex@outlook.com  and we can arrange a time to meet up.

In the meantime, whet your appetite with some of these other great sites, like Solana Hotel and The Great Mall of China.

SUNSHINE PARK – BEIJING – GRADE B+

This is really an unusual site for Beijing as it is in Central Beijing, and is close to the ever-popular Ikea. Called Sunshine Park, it used to have a a large carnival tent in the park which has long since rotted and fallen down.

Ripple Chamber

Most of the site apart from the multi-storey carpark has become overgrown. The carpark itself goes down one floor underground, where it has filled up with rain water.

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There are some incredible effects when the sunlight comes streaming through the holes at around midday. A word of warning however…

Escher's Dream

The site is relatively safe as long as you don’t fall off the sides of the carpark. Be careful of the junkie who lives in a tent beneath the ramp of the basement floor.

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He came out of his tent clothed only in his dirty undies, and then started to bounce and scream like a monkey. After that he charged at me.

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I ran like crazy, climbed an embankment and legged it through the bushes and wilderness. I could still hear him yelling behind me.

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Below is a student’s story about first love, bad girls, and kisses.

Broken Heart Sob Story

This is the main auditorium where unusually for a Chinese site, there is a lot of graffiti. Plenty of space for more though. Bring a can.

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Sunshine Park used to be where I went for a bit of quiet when I got the Beijing Blues. It s right next to Ikea too, so you can explore then get meatballs right after.

For these reasons Sunshine Park gets a very respectable grade B+ from Burbex. By the way, if you loved this site, check out these other unfinished masterpieces Solana Hotel and Guosen Mall. Plus if you ever want to come along, just contact me on burbex@outlook.com.

SOLANA HOTEL – BEIJING – GRADE B+

Construction on the Solana Hotel was abandoned a few years ago. With its unique architectural styling including spiral staircases, and empty swimming pool, numerous towers, and best of all the secret tunnels which run under the basmement, Solana is a joy to explore and you’ll need at least a whole afternoon.

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Maybe the best part about Solana is listening to the shoppers on the other side of the wall randomly buying stuff in the luxury mall. Also fun is spying on the resident security guard who spends most of his time asleep.

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The main hotel sits on three floors above the ground, but the best areas are the two basement floors which seem to have originally been built as either a luxury swimming pool or a fancy water feature.

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Pipes thread in and out of the walls and under the floors. Follow the pipes and you can find tight-squeeze tunnels which are sometimes filled with water, but sometimes not.

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Red metal staircases also wind their way from the tops of the building right down into the flooded basement, which is full of mosquitoes in the summer, and ice in the winter. The place attracts dozens of cats which weave in and out of the downstairs labyrinth of spiral staircases and abandoned fountains.

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The local businesses also make a habit of dumping their rubbish and storing their unused items in the basements and all kinds of junk can be found littered around the site.

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The underground areas of the complex look like they have been chewed upon by The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but there is no sign of the mighty beast.

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There are also areas where rebar has been cut through with a blowtorch leaving burn marks like a shotgun on the wall.

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To avoid flooding from the other areas when the rain fills up the complex, the pipes have been stoppered with pieces of wood.

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There is all sots of of architecture, like the crucifix room in the basement which looks a lot like a dungeon in the dark.

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And of course the beautiful red staircases that weave their way from the top of the building down to the basement.

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As always, there isn’t any graffiti in this hotel, so be sure to bring along a can and give it your own personal touch.

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Solana Hotel is a great place to spend an afternoon. You can sit on the roof and watch the sunset over Chaoyang Park, or descend into the basement and hide in the dark.

That mean Solana Hotel gets a solid B+ from Burbex. Remember, if you or your friends would like to come urbexing with me just send me a message, and we can set up a time to meet. Also, check out this Haunted Hotel and this Abandoned Theme Parkall just a stone’s throw away.