Category Archives: Daylight Run

TOWERS OF BABEL – SANLITUN BEIJING – GRADE B+

Is that building abandoned?

How am I going to get in?

Under the gate? Over the fence?

Any doors or windows left open?

Glass Rotunda

Many people have been asking Burbex recently how he finds his locations. Burbex is always cycling round the city keeping an eye out for new places to explore. Some of Burbex’s best sites have been discovered just by looking at a building and asking the question, “What’s on the other side of that wall?”

Glass Building

Usually the best locations are hidden in plain sight, like this fantastic location in Beijing’s trendiest neighbourhood – Sanlitun – right next door to a Lamborghini dealership.

babbling towers

The abandoned Babel Showroom was used to sell luxury apartments in The Babel Towers complex across the road. You can see the showroom in the bottom right hand corner of the artist’s impression above.

Babel Towers

This showroom was made to impress. The central rotunda is made entirely from glass bricks, and has an elaborate chandelier which hangs over a model of the site.

Elegant Fireplace

The attention to detail is amazing. There are light fittings with no light and fireplaces with no fire everywhere.

Streamlined Shade

Burbex though this lightshade looked a lot like The Starship Enterprise, but that might be overthinking it a bit.

Golden Fish

Burbex thought these lightbulbs shaped liked Goldfish were an espcially nice touch. Sadly he broke his souvenir leaving the building.

Spider Plant

Of course, everything here has been left to rot, and deceased plants lay like murder victims on the floor.

Dead Palms

This palm looks like it was trying to make its escape, turned over the pot and died of thirst on the marble floor.

Three Pillars

In among the pillars. Burbex found the golden logo of the complex. Not real gold of course, not even copper, just plastic like everything else.

Golden Towers

The showroom apartments upstairs have been commandeered by a roving band of migrant workers whose underwear Burbex found hanging beneath the spiral staircase.

Sunlight Staircase

Burbex found a bar area featuring the same circular design as the rotunda.

The Wheel Room

Further inside a meeting room with a jet black fireplace and huge meeting table can be found.

The Board Room

The best part of the showroom is the bamboo gardens outside. Most of the doors have been left unlocked, so stepping out into the green light is easy.

Green Windows

Strange sculptures dominate a garden which cannot decide whether it is modern, classical, or Zen. Is this sculpture supposed to look like a cow pat?

The Abyss

The rotunda building can be climbed upon for great views of Sanlitun.

Tree Ladder

And a zen garden for those visitors who need a little quiet contemplation after the hustle and bustle of Beijing.

Zen Garden

No urbex site in Beijing would be complete without its band of 老土包 or “country bumpkins” washing their undies and drying out roots and vegetables in the sun. Babel did not disappoint.

Plastic Fantastic

The bumpkins may have started a new religion, offering up a sacrifice of broccoli to the dark Babel obelisk.

Brocoli Sacrifice

The huge bronze-coloured gate, which the janitors use to get in and out, prevents the public getting a glimpse of the site, but Burbex always prefers the back way out.

Inescapable

In closing, Burbex was trying to recall his Bible classes at church. The Tower of Babel? Didn’t that fall down? Perhaps not the best name for a complex of luxury towers. Still, if they fall down more places for Burbex to explore.

Flying Fish

By the the way, if you liked this site, or any of the other great leisure sites like The House That Never Dies or The Swiss Cheesy Village, be sure to drop Burbex a line at burbex@outlook.com and arrange a time to meet.

 

The House That Never Dies – Chaoyang Avenue 81 – Grade A***

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BAD FENGSHUI – LONGYAN INTERNATIONAL PARK – BEIJING A-

When it comes to urbexing in Beijing, or indeed anywhere in the world, there are certain features that urbexers search for. Some people go for the tunnels, some people go for the high places, others like a place with a good story. When you can find a site which combines all of these features and more, that’s when you know you have found a classic site.

Cathedral Gates

Longyun International Park has all of these features and more. Burbex stumbled across this site by chance. Passing in a taxi from the airport, the top of a dome poked its way into the smoggy sky begging to be explored.

Terracotta Dome

Scouting the outside perimeter there are Communist slogans encouraging citizens to be “civilised” and make Beijing a “centre of development”. Burbex took a knife to one of the slogans and cut his way through to the other side.

Ice Rink

Plunging into the darkness beyond, underground canals snake their way hundreds of metres forward. Faint glints of light barely seen in the pitch black.

Opal Waters

The frozen canals meander from left to right, and along the way there are plenty of unusual water features to be taken in. Small flags warn of the water’s edge like flashes of colour at the village fete.

Oval Boat

Getting lost is inevitable in this underground labyrinth. Tunnels weave off in all directions, and circle around and around in circles. Only the lucky will find the Tiffany roofed exits.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

These are the most heavily guarded areas though, and the security guards shout down curses at intruders but do not dare penetrate the labyrinth.

Auditorium

The inner dome is a smaller version of the first, and does not have the balconies or the grandeur of its big brother. It feels no less dangerous though.

Venice View

The mouth of the canal leads out into a half-completed Suzhou style water garden. Missing the colour of flowers and trees, it is just a cement garden. From here though, the villas and the upper areas can be accessed.

Window View

Entering through the glassless windows, the villas are easily accessed. Running up the stairs and through unlocked doors, the rooftop dome yawns at the sky.

Dome Top

The beginning of this post mentioned a good story behind this location. According to local taxi drivers, it was shut down because of the death of several workers on the site. Due to this the Fengshui is now considered too bad to continue. This is a curse for construction companies who cannot battle against the entrenched superstition in China.

Raising Flgs

This is very similar to Chaoyang 81, which has remained empty for decades simply because of its ghostly reputation. Probably this site will be left to rot until it becomes too dangerous or too much of an eyesore for the local government to stand.

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In retrospect this is the only site that has ever given Burbex nightmares, so maybe its ghostly reputation is true. Whatever the case, with or without ghosts, this is a first class site for urban exploration and earns a solid A-.

Dome View

Don’t forget that no matter what your taste, from industrial sites like Jiaohua Chemical Works, to tall places like Guosen Towers, or ghostly locations like The Nationalist Hotel, or Chaoyang 81, Burbex is only an email away ready to help you on your way.

 

 

THE BACK LOT – BEIJING FILM ACADEMY – GRADE B-

Sometimes you get the feeling that the only urbex sites in Beijing are huge industrial sites like Jiaohua and Capital Steel, or projects that have been abandoned halfway and left to rot like Guoson Mall and Sunshine Park. Sometimes what the Beijing urbexer needs is a little bit of nostalgia to add to the diet of rebar and concrete. That’s where Beijing Film Academy steps in.

Shining Mao

In Beijing one of the characters that the urbexer is always looking for is 拆 which means to cut down or demolish. This character is often painted on buildings slated for demolition. The buildings may remain for years without anything happening. You can see the character painted on both sides of the back lot gate in the picture below.

Lot Entrance

Once over the wall and safely in the lot, there is the feeling of a one-horse cowboy movie, you’re always expecting a Chinese John Wayne to stride through the Chinese-style gate and challenge some dupe to a shootout at midday.

Red Gate

The only heroes here are the dogs who will follow you everywhere around the site. They are a strange breed of mutt specially designed to make as much noise as possible, while at the same time attracting nobody’s attention.

Plaster Warriors

Hidden in the back lots are props of warriors and buddhas left over from older productions. There is a strong sense of China’s histories overlapping and blending on the lots which is probably not that far from reality.

Lucky Wall

Some areas of the lot are burned down or have fallen into serious disrepair. Alleyways lead from more modern hutong scenes into ancient China.

Last Chance Saloon

China’s own Last Chance Saloon contains tonnes of props and relics from the height of the movie age.

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Climbing up to the roof of the studio, you can get a great overview of the entire site. Be very careful though, the concrete balcony is crumbling and it is three floors down.

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You don’t really realise the scale of the site until you get up on top. The main studio is all locked up. That calls for another midnight trip.

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The site combines Western and Eastern styles, probably as was seen in Shanghai in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

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Huge lot doors are overgrown with tumbleweeds and thick Beijing dust chokes the air.

Warrior Garden

In a hidden garden Laughing Buddha overlooks an army of plaster soldiers and demi-gods.

Giving Head

Four Wheel Drive

Fallen Warriers

End of the Block

Empty Gate

Demolition

Circular Doorway

There are myriad doors and gates to get lost in, and the whole place has a strong sense of the film Labyrinth with its grey bricks and twisting turns.

With all this in mind, Beijing Film Academy is a perfect slice of nostalgia from a mixture of Chinese eras that never existed. It confuses the senses, and as the sun sets you are left feeling even more confused.

For these reason Burbex awards Beijing Film Academy with a B+ grade. If you would like to come along and see the site for yourself, please get in touch at burbex@outlook.com.

 

 

BANANA BLIZZARD – BEIJING CHEMICAL WORKS – GRADE A+

How can the weather alter change the nature of the urbex landscape?

Bleak Mid-Winter

One of the things that you have to deal with in Beijing is the constant onslaught of crazy climate. It might be in the summer with sweat pouring down your butt crack, soot stuck to your face at Capital Steel, or on super smoggy day’s when you cannot see more than one hundred metres like at Sunshine Park.

 

Snow Factory

Nothing is better that the first snow of the winter though, especially when it just so happens to be the day that you are going to the Banana Factory.

Red Ivy Lab

It’s is not really a banana factory, it’s a huge chemical works which stretches for miles and miles. The banana part comes in because the Chinese word for banana 蕉 and the Chinese word for chemical 焦 sound the same.

Icy Tracks

These tracks and the furnaces at the side are very similar to the ones at Capital Steel, just on a smaller scale. The blizzard that raged around the place though made it feel much more hazardous.

Holy Spade

There are artefacts galore here at the Chemical Works, in fact most of the place looks like it has been swallowed up with orange mud and then left to fossilise.

Fossilised Phone

There are broken remnants of the offices strewn about, and old laboratories still contain old machines and equipment.

For Even Higher Standards Preserve Our Young Culture By Howling Glory

The caption in the old style Communist propaganda sign above reads:- FOR EVEN HIGHER STANDARDS PRESERVE OUR YOUTH CULTURE BY HOWLING GLORY. I’m not really sure what that means either.

Establish Legal Systems, Persist in Safety First

Here’s another of those meaningless signs. This ones reads:- ESTABLISH LEGAL SYSTEMS, PRACTISE SAFETY FIRST. At least that one is a bit less opaque.

Dragon's Tongue

Coal on Snow

Just like in Capital Steel, conveyor belts which used to transmit coal or slag from one side of the site to the other, curl up like the skins of long dead snakes.

Door Number Four

The factory opens up into rooms and warehouses where the blanched walls run with chemical stains and spreading rust.

Death Star

Light fittings decay in their settings and fall leaving russet stains in the fresh snow.

Dead Comfortable

Thick Beijing dust absorbs the moisture in the air and becomes a thick crust of mud that covers and preserves the whole site.

D701B

The pipes and engines that ran the site have been gutted and torn apart by scavengers. Whatever is left behind rusts in a bed of snow.

Beneath the Tower

The cooling tower stands on its spindly legs, a commanding presence over the site. Beneath the tower, all is still.

Cooling Tower Duct

Beneath the abandoned cooling tower lies a pool of water rippling gently in the blizzard breeze.

Century Gate

One of the myriad entrances to the main building is affectionately referred to as CENTURY GATE. Did the architects realise their factory would be dead by the beginning of the new century?

Captain Hook

Massive iron hooks swing on chains gently creaking.

Capsule Hotel

Fume cupboards with their doors ripped off create caverns and caves in the site, ideal for hiding from security guards.

Blizzard View

While it does have a lot in common with its older and much larger cousin Capital Steel, Jiaohua is a much more recently abandoned site and has a slight edge in terms of its charm. There are many more artifacts to be discovered, and it is going to be drawing Burbex back for more visits once the weather warms up.

For all of these reasons and more, Jiaohua is getting a solid A grade from Burbex. It should be noted that Jiaohua is slightly edgier in terms of danger, so if you are going to visit, please pay close attention to your safety.

Of course, should you need a guide, please don’t hesitate to contact me on burbex@outlook.com and we can go along together. The cost you ask? One Banana Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

SWISS CHEESY – TONGHUI INTERNATIONAL, BEIJING – GRADE B+

Beijing has its fair share of kitschy European style developments in various states of abandonment (see the Olympic Homko villas), but the Tonghui International Bar Street 通惠国际酒吧街 really takes the biscuit.

Rose and Summer

Construction on this Swiss-style bar street began in 2010, and was expected to open in 2014. Somewhere towards the end of the timeline, the project was abandoned, and now the town clock chimes to an empty village every hour.

Udderly Weird

The street itself is based on the Alpine Swiss town of Interlaken, and as well as the charismatic design of the street, the development also boasts 18,000 square metres of underground shopping space.

Stuck in Custard

You can check out some of the original designs do the complex at Su Landscape, the company which designed the wooden facades. All of the complex is still completely unoccupied, and gaining access is extremely simple.

Herr Green's Gasthaus

One very old security guard sleeps in a fairy tale cottage at the far end of the street (above: right of the green guesthouse).

Hotel California

The best way to move from building to building is either by the tunnels that thread their way under the street, or even better, to jump in and out of windows like a fairy tale goblin or elf.

When I was going up the stairs...

Unusually, even though the exteriors of the buildings are complete and boast some fantastic and unusual decorations, the interiors are just cement, and none of the buildings have stairs to the first floor.

Under the Yellow Brick Road

Apparently, Tonghui International was part of a 400 million yuan project by The Chaoyang Planning Commission, trying to invigorate business close to Guomao, the economic centre of Beijing.

Fondue Leak in Swiss Village

Whatever the case, the project is dead now, and the street and underground shopping mall both lie dormant.

Cart on the Yellow Brick Road

A metal fence surrounds the street, and in the front yard there is a bronze horse and cart created in 2008 according to the date on the horse’s rump.

Cuckoo Clock

With its easy access and fairy tale weirdness, Tonghui International Bar Street gets a B+ from Burbex.

Oh deer! What a horny stag!

By the way, if you loved this great leisure site, be sure to check out these other great urbex sites in Beijing, like Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park, and The Great Mall of China in neighbouring Hebei.

Of course if you want to come along, just drop me a line, and don’t forget to bring your Swiss cheese. I hope you know how to yodel.

CHUTE FOR THE STARS – DALIAN – GRADE A*

A bit further afield for this Burbex,  Dalian is a coastal city in the North East of China. Hidden at the end of the one of the most popular beaches in the city, is this hidden gem, the ultimate in Urbex chic, that’s right, it’s an abandoned waterpark. Not only that, but it has a huge faux-mansion beside it.

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IMG_0633    IMG_0712

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There’s more than one way to kill a cat, an electric cable through the gut is pretty novel though.

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To escape, you must pass a festering sewage outlet. It smells much worse than it looks.

What? You want to see more? The whole set is here. Also for other great leisure sites check out Floating Dragon Amusement Park and The Great Mall of China.

Don’t forget that if you ever want to come to Beijing and see one of these great locations, just drop me a line on burbex@outlook.com, or leave a comment in the box below. Don’t forget to bring your goggles and swimsuit!

 

 

 

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.

twin towers

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.

totally_tubular

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.

skewed_matics

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

leftovers

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

flask

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

crystal_growth

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

bottle_family

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.

guage_heads

 

 

crane_head

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