Category Archives: Daylight Run

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHITE WATER DREAMS – OLYMPIC KAYAKING COURSE – BEIJING – GRADE B-

Kayak House

Hot on the heels of his success getting into the The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, Burbex was determined to find more Olympic sites from 2008. With a kind reference from a friend and with an excellent entry in Wikipedia on the subject, Burbex was easily able to find The Olympic Kayaking Course.

A Hexed Couse

Located a million miles from anything outside the sixth ring-road not far from the airport, Shunyi has definitely seen better days since the Olympics were held here eight years ago. To its credit, the Olympic Kayaking Park does still attract some visitors and the boating and wake boarding facilities are pretty decent. Burbex doesn’t care about decent though, where’s the abandoned stuff?

Colourful Course

It is extremely easy to get over the fence and actually into the dried up kayaking course. According to Wikipedia, even by Olympic standards, this was once a very challenging course, but now Burbex ran through it with no problems at all. The funny thing about his course is how underwhelming it seems without the water.

... cast the first stone

Within the dried up riverbed small rocks are scattered around, that’s in spite of the big sign that says don’t throw rocks.
Let he who is without sin...

Only the occasional signs remind you that this was once an Olympic site. Burbex had also seen these yellow signs at The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, but there were a few more here in multiple languages, like this one keeping out French giants…

Staff Only

Or this one for German women with holes in their stomachs…

Olympic Ladies

But the winner by a mile has to be the Doping Station sign. Burbex was wondering where the dope was hidden. The smog was getting thicker and he needed a pick-me-up.

Doping Station

Of course, everyone’s favourite Olympic mascots put in an appearance covering a rickety scaffolding bridge swarming with bees. You might remember Beibei from The Olympic Volleyball Stadium or Jingjing from The Olympic Mascot Mall. They looked pretty rough before, but now they are plumbing new depths.

Drowned Mascots

Bridges crisscross the course connecting grassy islands where spectators would have been sitting.

Bridge over the River Blah

Plus massive conveyor belts feature in the course which would have lifted the kayaks from the bottom of the course next to main lake…

Lifting Equipment

To the top.

Grassy Conveyor

Burbex investigated underneath the conveyor belts and found some powerful looking mechanisms.

Conveyor Controls

What are you trying to convey

The course features various flood gates to control the flow and direction of the course.

Hatches

But again, like Beibei’s Bridge, each was swarming with angry bees.

Hatch No. 1

Hatch No. 2

Hatch No. 3

Enormous pumps also controlled how much water was let into the course and presumably how fast.

Pump Station

Clambering out of the course and onto the outside banks of the course, there are some coastguard boats left to rot. While Burbex is usually known for his cat burglar-like skills, piracy was a new avenue as he climbed aboard.

Police Boat

It looked to Burbex as though the SS Chairman Mao had been in a head on collision.

Getting Smashed

Siren Song

Captain's Bridge

Take the Wheel

Full Speed Ahead

One other strange boat contraption stood nearby, like a boat with a conveyor on it. Burbex suspected this was used in emergencies to put kayaks out of the water. Now it was just rescuing a whole lot of weeds growing up the belt.

Overgrown Conveyor

One final treasure was hidden in the trees as Burbex left, a countdown clock which had long since counted past the days minutes and hours to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It seemed an appropriate farewell as Burbex waved goodbye.

Dead Time

Despite being drained out and dried up, the Olympic Kayak Course is in much better shape than its sandy cousin The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, but without the kayaks, white water rapids, and the cheering crowds up on the bridges, the course felt pretty sad. That being said Burbex still awards The Olympic Kayak Course a B- grade.

Flatwater Boathouse

If you would like to come and dip your toes into urban exploration in Beijing, or just want to stick in your oar and see what it’s all about, be sure to send an email to burbex@outlook.com, and you’ll be more than welcome to come along. Don’t forget your life jacket!

Rusted Anchor

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Mall of China – Yanjiao – Grade A***

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SANDY BALLS – OLYMPIC VOLLEYBALL STADIUM – BEIJING – GRADE B+

Car Park View

With Beijing developing so fast, it is easy to forget that just eight short years ago, Beijing hosted one of the most excessively opulent games that the world has ever seen. Those who have watched the recent Rio Olympics might be looking to China to see what might happen to Brazil’s own massive investments in their Olympic dream.

View from the Stands

Apart from the Bird’s Nest, which is still thriving and attracting tourists even now, there are only a few dusty reminders of Beijing’s participation as an Olympic host. Like the Homko Olympic Ghost Town and the scattered Olympic mascots left to rot at Olympic Mascot Mall, most have been forgotten about.

 

First Impressions

There does remain one large location that stands out in plain sight, its bandages of advertising covering its decrepitude, one last Olympic venue beckoning urbexers from a distance. That place is The Olympic Volleyball Stadium.

Right Side View

Located within a five minute walk of the abandoned remains of Chaoyang Park Ferris Wheel, The Olympic Volleyball Stadium stands lonely in the middle of a large enclosed car park. Previously it had been the centrepiece of Chaoyang Park, but now it just rattles faintly in the wind as rusted pieces drop off.

Side Seating

Entering might be tricky for more portly urbexers, but Burbex was easily able to slither under one of the many gates that lead from the outside into the seating area of the main stadium. Burbex entered at midday as the sun was pouring down on the bleached sand which has miraculously stood up against the elements for the last eight years.

IMG_9988

Burbex found that many of the steel walkways were rusting through, and the wooden boards of the media and atheletes stands have almost rotten away completely. Putting his foot through one rotten board, Burbex heard the dual growls of two mutts who rocketed out of the hole. One sprinted left and the other sprinted right, meeting minutes later on the opposite side of the stadium. Maybe a little bit of Olympic spirit had rubbed off on these stray mutts.

Faded Tables

Vaulting the bars at the bottom of the stands, the sand is still as thick and tightly-packed as the day it was laid. Drowning in the sunshine, Burbex could only imagine what the Olympians must have felt playing in the Beijing heat. Some small holes lead underneath the stands where it is much cooler and stray cats bounce out of their hiding places in surprise.

Athlete Seat

Here are hidden the massive fans that are scattered across the stadium presumably to keep the crowds and the atheletes cool. They all feature our favourite Olympic Mascot Beibei, who was featured previously in the Olympic Mascot Mall post. Beibei was looking a little more worse for wear last time Burbex saw him, at least he is trying to look useful this time.

Beibei's Fans

Adjacent to the waterpark in Chaoyang Park, the noise from children splashing down the water chutes, and hideous piped music floats over the edges of the stadium, but here all is quiet, peaceful, and serene, the perfect location for a lazy Sunday morning exploration.

Grafitti Stand

The Olympic Volleyball Stadium is a great reminder that Beijing’s Olympic legacy has not yet disappeared completely, and with the Winter Olympics to be hosted in Beijing in 2022, Burbex will be interested to see what remnants will be left behind in the snow and ice.

Seat 20

With the Olympic twist and perfect location for exploration on a sunny day, Burbex is happy to give the Olympic Volleyball Stadium a firm B+. By the way, if you want to come along to any other Olympic-related sites like The Olympic Homko Ghost Town or The Olympic Mascot Mall, where you can catch up with some of your Olympic mascot heroes, just drop Burbex a line at burbex@outlook.org.

Under Stands

To stay up-to-date with all the latest in Beijing urbex, by sure to follow Burbex on WordPress and Facebook.

Worn Out Welcome

 

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.

 

OLYMPIC MASCOT MALL – BEIJING – GRADE B+

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.

Glassless

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.

Beibei's Swan Dive

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.

Huanhuan's Shame

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.

No Pictures Please

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…

Yingying's Bicycle Bootie

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?

Nini's Disgrace

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?

福牛乐乐

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.

Hidden in the Dry Grass

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.

Ray of Light

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.

Enclave

Beams of sunlight lit up various enclaves like this half circle…

Square Enclave

and this studly rectangle.

Rebar Garden

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.

Stairs

On the ground floor, staircases abounded and glassless window frames let in the morning light.

Three by One

Morning Light

Burbex could also see the luxury housing over the fence next door to the mall.

Red Roof

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.

In Order To

One kid even seemed to be writing a cement-based novel…

Full of Activity

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.

Glassless

Other windows just provided a great sense of symmetry over the whole site.

Five by One

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.

Overbearing Angels

Again the view towards the Marriott Hotel was irresistible.

Marriot Billboard

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.

Six Houses

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.

Dots of Lght

If you want to come out with Burbex some time, just send an email to burbex@outlook.com, 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!

WALK THE PLANK – CHINA JAPAN FRIENDSHIP HOSPITAL – GRADE B-

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.

China Japan Friendship Hospital

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.

Front Window

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.

Peeking Trees

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!

Pipe Runner

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.

Toxic Sludge

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.

Plank and Step

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.

Walking the Plank

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.

Evenfall

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.

Flooded Chamber

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.

Yellow Glow

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.

Green Water

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.

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.

Yellow Dorms

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.

Pipes

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.

Materials Room

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 burbex@outlook.org. If you want to come along to the hospital you had better either be a good swimmer or bring a canoe.

GOT THE GUTS? – CATHOLIC SCHOOL – GRADE A-

What are the qualities of a good urbexer?

They have got to have a lot of heart,

They have got to have a strong stomach,

They have to have a good brain,

But most of all… they have to have lots and lots of GUTS!

Metal Gates

Beijing is an unusual place when it comes to Burbex, the main reason for this is that it is sadly lacking in historical buildings to explore. Apart from Chaoyang 81 and the Nationalist Hotel, which have both been renovated and had their ghostly residents evicted, historical buildings are thin on the ground in Beijing. That is what makes the Catholic School such a pleasure to explore.

Attic Space 3

The Catholic School came to Burbex’s attention a few years ago, exploring the attics which used to be filled with junk, but it has been locked up for some time now, each of the vast rooms hosting dormitories full of itinerant workers who have left their mark on the building, re-sculpting it to their own purposes.

All Bricked Up

The attic area itself is divided into four long areas, each supported with thick redwood beams supporting gray/blue bricks which may have been there since it was constructed more than one hundred years ago. Unusually, it seems that the workers have tried to take apart a lot of the walls on the top floor, and massive stone blocks are scattered everywhere.

The Altar Room

Attic Space 2

The other joyful think that Burbex found about the attic space is the afternoon light which just pours into the windows. Many of the large rooms on the third floor, which were likely school dormitories and altars must have been bathed in sunshine when the original inhabitants lived here.

Sunet

On the ground floor, half hidden in the dark, are rooms full of junk, possibly from when the school was used as a hospital. There are suitcases full of old shoes and clothes. There was also a lot of old computer equipment, which always brings a smile to Burbex’s face. Additonally, there was a huge collection of cassette tapes for everyone’s favourite <Boyzone>, who were of course hugely popular in China.

Storage

On the ground floor, everything is locked up tight, and the junk collects dust quietly in the dark. Judith, Burbex’s companion on this trip, was pleased with the number of “mise en scene” shots that we could achieve in the dark, like this little cherub…

Sweet Chreub

…and this fake tree growing indoors…

Rusty Tree

…and an abandoned army cap…

Officer Material

which all seem to mix up the history of the catholic school even more. Even more confusing is that the school seemed to have acted as a hospital at some point with abandoned hospital equipment and rooms left behind in the dark. This sign below is for the night surgery department.

Night Surgery

The building started to get strange and a little scary when Burbex and Judith found a hole outside which led into a semi-collapsed cellar with many stony rooms leading off to each side. Down here everything is pitch black, and even the echoes die in the dead cool air.

Collapsed Entrance

It is hard to decide what purpose many of these underground rooms served, but Burbex deduced that the one below was a ice room for storing food and drinks. It probably would’ve been insulated with tiles originally, but none of them remain. Burbex found that it was significantly colder in this chamber than the other.

Ice Room

The other rooms probably would’ve been for storing coal, as many of them have chutes which lead in from the front of the building. These are room whose walls seem to seep with moisture and other weird ectoplasm that Judith was reluctant to examine.

Glowing Doors

The first time Burbex came down here with Judith was a few months ago. Judith screamed in the dark, and Burbex ran to find her in the room that was by far the weirdest and most gruesome of them all. Burbex affectionately calls this The Organ Room.

WARNING: THE REST OF THIS POST CONTAINS IMAGES THAT VIEWERS MIGHT FIND DISTURBING.

Family Organs

In this solitary chamber Burbex found three jars each containing a complete set of human organs. One of the jars had cracked open, and the organs inside had turned to a bloody mush, but the other jars contained perfectly preserved sets of organs, some bagged and other tagged.

Mixed Guts

To Judith’s disgust, Burbex could not resist taking the lid off one of the jars. The smell of formaldehyde filled the room, and Judith retreated to the doorway.

Brain and Brawn

A closer look reveals a brain on the left and possible a set of intestines on the right. This gruesome find was highly unusual given that these organs were the only items left in the whole of the basement area. Perhaps the workers who cleared the building were too superstitious to move them.

Window and Door

Burbex and Judith were happy to make their way out of The Organ Room and into the sunshine again, but leaving The Catholic School, they both got the sense that they had left a little part of themselves down there in that dark basement.

Semi-circle View

In summary, this is not the first time Burbex has seen organs at a site, Tianjin Chest Hospital offered a strong looking pair of lungs, and when it comes to darkness Longyan International Park cannot be beaten. However The Catholic School’s combination of attic space, abandoned cellars and abandoned guts makes it an unforgettable experience earning it a solid GRADE A-.

Vertigo

By the way, if you liked this post, be sure to check out other great spooky posts like The House That Never Dies and The Qianmen Gate Haunted Hotel. Or if it is more to your taste, check out the tunnels under Tonghui International. Also be sure to check out the whole set for this post 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 burbex@outlook.org. If you are coming along to The Catholic School you had better bring along a crucifix and a pair of latex gloves.

 

CHINA FILM GROUP STUDIOS – BEIJING FILM ACADEMY – GRADE A-

“It’s ironic that sometimes the very security features designed to keep people out, are the features I use to get in.”

Studios From Above

In Beijing security is often just an illusion. The city may have the world’s most CCTV cameras, but is anybody watching them? Huge rusted locks snap open with enough pull, and the bars on the windows are great ladders up onto the roofs of buildings, which is exactly how Burbex got into Beijing’s legendary film sudios.

China Film Group

Fans may recall that in March Burbex posted pictures of Beijing’s historic film studios. You can check those at this link The Back Lot at Beijing Film Academy. Burbex was very pleased to receive a lot of emails about that post asking how to get in, but a little bit sad that mostly people got caught and kicked out by the lazy janitors. Burbex decided to pay another visit to the site, and even better managed to get into the main studios.

Studio No. 5

Beijing Film Corporation has been running since after the revolution in 1949, and has been renowned for pumping out streams of Communist propaganda movies, as well as the more recent <Kung Fu Kid> (also known as <The Karate Kid> in the USA) starring Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s son, Jaden.

The main gate is huge and green, with the blazing red logo painted on the front. That didn’t put off Burbex as he climbed the window bars to the flatroof avoiding the glances of the gang of stray dogs that live in the area.

Green Gate

Jumping down from the flatroof and into the main courtyard of the studios, you notice that there is one huge studio on the right and a labyrinth of three studios on the left. Below you can see the gates to the huge right-hand studio.

Comrades Gate

Inside the studio it is black as pitch, but Burbex brought along his new LED flash and lit up the whole space. In each corner, steps zig-zag up to the heavens, and even onto the roof of the studio. That was a bit too high even for Burbex.

Zig Zag Staircase

Burbex decided to leave that for another day, and went back to the central courtyard to explore the smaller studios, which lay through another massive green gate.

Green Doors

Ad then on the inside, an internal gate with a massive warning not to smoke inside the studios.

Smoking Studio

Climbing the zigzag stairs in this studio, Burbex was glad that he had brought his mask, as the walls of the studio were lined with crumbling asbestos to fireproof the room. Once in the heavens though, there was a treat to be found.

Cake Walk

Rows and rows of walkways hang high above the ground. The wooden boards are rotting and creaking, and the asbestos ceiling is falling in. With hands gripped tightly in the half darkness, Burbex made a run to the other side. Securely on the other side, peering down into the darkness you start to realise the scale of the studio.

View from Above

These smaller studios are all connected, and the walkways lead from studio two right through to studio five at the end of the building. Between the studios are huge blast doors and rotting pipes.

Electric Blast

Coming out of Studio Five, you enter into the the makeup department of the studios, which is definitely the most fun to be had here.

Makeup Department

Each room has all kinds of weird objects and equipment left over from the movie business. Especially in the special effects and prosthetic department. There are Plaster of Paris heads everywhere.

Head and Wig

Plus there is a very professional makeup department…

Professional Makeup

Gimp masks…

The Gimp is Sleeping

Monkey Kings…

Monkey King

Could you really ask for more? Oh yeah! Uncle Fester’s head!

Uncle Fester's Head

After all that excitement in that steaming hot studio, it was time for Burbex to leave the way he came into through the lucky green doors. He of course left it unbolted so that next time he doesn’t have to climb onto the roof again.

Lucky Doors

By the way, if you liked this, then be sure to check out the previous post about The Back Lot at Beijing Film Academy which is just next door, and also check out the whole set here on Flickr. Of course, if you want to come along to any other kitschy leisure sites like Floating Dragon Amusement Park or The Great Mall of China, be sure to send Burbex an email at burbex@outlook.com.