What is it about old hospitals that everyone loves?
Is it that we often come into the world in a hospital?
Is it that we often leave the world in a hospital?
Is it the fear of having surgeons pull out our organs?
Maybe it is all of these and more.
Anyone that reads this blog knows that Burbex is a big fan of hospitals. Not the live ones of course, but ancient decrepit ones like Saint Clement’s Psychiatric Hospital in Mile End, London which is more than two hundred years old, middle-aged corpses like Tianjin Chest Hospital, which still has machines and human organs left behind, and of course The Catholic School, which was never a real hospital anyway, just a place to throw old hearts and livers.
What is more rare to find though, is the still-born fetus of a hospital, a place that never made it to become a hospital, a place full of steel bones, and metal teeth, but none of the flesh of a full-term hospital. That is where The China Japan Friendship Hospital steps in, a hospital aborted before it was even born.
Burbex is a frequent visitor to The China Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, which is one of the top one hundred hospitals in China, and is designated a class A for excellence. The hospital was established in the 1980s to promote “friendship” between Japan and China – good luck with that!
On one of Burbex’s trips to the hospital, he noticed that there was a whole wing of the hospital that had been abandoned during construction. To the casual eye, it looks like a chimpanzees’s wet dream with scaffolding permeating the whole structure. Burbex, being a monkey’s uncle, decided to sneak in for a swing around.
Inside the place drips with rusty water and sheets of green plastic have dissolved into pools of verdant water. The construction creaks and groans, and the rainwater disappears down pipes and drilled holes that lead through the concrete and into the pitch black flooded basement.
Burbex slid and swung between the myriad scaffolding poles, and finally found the steps down into the lower level of the wing. The rusted rainwater lapped at the bottom steps of the stairwell, and where the stairs end, planks supported by underwater scaffolding cross the flooded basement.
The water is about one to two metres deep, and god only knows what sharp edges there are to suck you down into the black water and squeeze the life out of you. The planks sway and creak underfoot, and this would be completely impossible without the aid of a huge flash with 96 LEDS. The view below was utterly worth it though.
Like Sunshine Park and Chaoyang Park Ferris Wheel this subterranean world is filled with thick black water, and only a few random strands of sunlight break through the ceiling giving the place an eerie lack of light and sound.
Doorways and gateways lead into lift shafts and pits that lead down into the entirely flooded lower levels where the water is treacherously deep, and definitely a no-go for Burbex. Going in at midday though, the basement started to pick up some of the discarded light from above.
Feeling a little seasick from walking the plank, and more than a little fearful that he would fall into the abyss, Burbex decided to return topside for a little sunshine and fresh air. Above pipes and spouts grow out of the concrete just like in Super Mario, all that was missing was the mushrooms, but even a few small metal mushies made an appearance.
Besides the site itself, there was the abandoned workers cabins on the side of the site closest to the road. Inside was caked in Beijing’s typically yellow dust, and the windows were taped up with old newspapers and magazines. The room below was obviously the master bedroom.
The whole site is permeated with a rusty yellow colour which even seems to filter the light and turn the world an umber hue. This was only a very short trip early in the afternoon, but the effect of the blacked water and rusty yellow light stayed in Burbex’s mind for days after.
In summary, Burbex is always pleased when he finds these places in plain sight, and even more so when they have such dark hidden depths just waiting to be uncovered. This was an extremely dangerous site though, and Burbex will wait till the dry season before he returns. All this considered The China Japan Friendship Hospital get a firm B- Grade.
By the way, if you liked this post, be sure to check out other great flooded places like Sunshine Park and Chaoyang Park Ferris Wheel. Plus be sure to check out the whole set at Flickr.
Of course, if you have any suggestions for places to explore, or would like to come out with Burbex some time, please drop a line to email@example.com. If you want to come along to the hospital you had better either be a good swimmer or bring a canoe.