Lucky scavengers will take in some of Beijing’s most unique spots, as you pit their wits against two of Burbex’s most challenging locations. Scavengers need to bring a fully charged smart phone, and suit up in durable clothes that cover the legs.
Scavengers will meet at Anheqiao Station at the end of subway line 4 at 10:30am, where they will be met by Burbex and given their instructions.
The Scavenger Hunt will begin on Saturday, May 6 at 11am and will last 2 to 3 hours.
Only 8 spots are available, at $35 per ticket. More spaces may open up if there is a lot of demand.
NOTE FOR ATTENDEES
Attendees need to be reasonably fit; able to climb a small fence and run around.
Attendees should wear dark clothes—hoodies are ideal. Clothes should not have too many straps or loose cords.
Attendees need to bring a smart phone with 3G/4G. A camera is also recommended, but nothing too heavy.
Check out the full lineup of amazing adventures taking place all around the world on Obscura Day, our annual celebration of discovery!
Use the #obscuraday hashtag on your favorite social media platforms to show us how you’re celebrating. We’ll be featuring your posts on our own platforms all day, and you could even win some Atlas Obscura prizes.
Alright, Burbex is going to let you have it. One of his favourite best-kept secrets. He’s going to tell you about the PLA Hospital. It is not the first time that Burbex has found abandoned hospitals. In the Tianjin Chest Hospital, Burbex was constantly being chased by his shadow, and his echo kept whispering replies. You never get lonely in an old hospital. But this secret place was different.
This story, like many others, starts out in a pub. Supping the craft beer at The Great Leap Brewery, Burbex heard the words “huge abandoned castle” float through the smoky air towards him. Burbex’s ears dragged him to where a drunken Scotsman was slumped at the bar.
“Can I buy you a beer?” Burbex asked. “That you can, pal!” The Scotsman replied. Two beers later, the Scotsman leaned forward in a conspiratal whisper, “It’s out there in the woods, hic! A huge fuckin’ castle, in the woods. It’s haunted they say. I ne’er found the place, but maybe you’ll have more luck.”
The Scotsman gave Burbex a rough idea of where the castle was located before falling asleep sitting straight up. Burbex wrote: ABANDONED CASTLE WOODS on the back of his hand, just in case he forgot it in the morning.
Burbex spiralled around in the grey dusty forest. It was biting cold, and his usual strategy of walking around in circles until he found what he was looking for, wasn’t really working. Sometimes you must lose yourself to find what you’re looking for.
This was certainly a strange forest. The pine trees were spaced too far apart, and the echoes of a man bellowing Italian opera echoed between the trunks. Whichever way Burbex went, the opera followed him. He was just on the verge of giving up the search for the castle, when he caught a glimpse of grey brick.
Hidden in the forest was the castle. The Scotsman had exaggerated its size, but with turrets and a huge gate, it had to be the place. Burbex slid under the gate, and then contorted himself through a broken window pane.
Inside, corridors snaked into the distance, and a cold chill travelled down Burbex’s spine. Burbex made his way to the top of the building. This was his usual strategy, get to the top and then come down. That way if he was chased by dogs, guards, or Beijing ghosts, he could still take photos on the way down.
Burbex took the stairs up to a room which he would come back to again and again – The Nightingale Room. Florence looked down from a huge portrait on the wall. She looked over empty beds and resuscitation equipment.
Since that first time Burbex found The Nightingale Room, Florence has been taken down, and the room emptied, but the fine architecture of the room remains.
In cupboards, Burbex found imitation pistols, and boxes of empty chlorazopan ampules, a schizophrenia drug.
Burbex has been back here many times and brought other urbexers along too, and there is always something new to discover. On a night expedition, Burbex ate “the fruits of the forest” and could see a million tiny fairies sleeping in dewdrops at the tips of leaves on the trees. They whispered a secret to Burbex.
Burbex ran though the corridors, through The Nightingale Room and up onto the flat roof. He tore thick electrical cable from the wall and abseiled into a hidden courtyard. Burbex had found the luxury wing of the hospital.
Inside were rooms with four-poster beds, the rotting floorboards sucking them downwards. Other rooms had art rehabilitation equipment, and in the dining room, paintings of French cheese and wine blackened with mildew. Burbex ran for the roof.
The black forest hummed silently, but then the silence was broken by the opera singer hidden somewhere in the forest. In the darkness, the song was not so threatening. Burbex sat and grinned enjoying his heightened sense of perception.
Burbex does not give up his secrets easily. The ghosts at Chaoyang 81, he kept a secret for a long time, at least until the movie came out and the house was renovated. The undead inhabitants of The Nationalist Hotel were familiar with Burbex, but then they were evicted and the neighbourhood gentrified.
Burbex doesn’t have many secrets left, but if you want to find out a few places, be sure to send a message to email@example.com. Be sure to bring mushrooms enough for everyone though.
By the way, have you checked out the new video page yet? It has links to all Burbex’s latest videos both in Beijing and around the world. Plus, don’t forget to follow Burbex on all your favourite social media sites:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to come along to the hospital you had better either be a good swimmer or bring a canoe.
But most of all… they have to have lots and lots of GUTS!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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…
…and this fake tree growing indoors…
…and an abandoned army cap…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-.
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 are coming along to The Catholic School you had better bring along a crucifix and a pair of latex gloves.
Burbex travels a lot for work. While tourists may look at the picturesque landscape out of the window of the train, or get excited about temples and ancient buildings, Burbex is always keeping his eyes peeled for signs of abandonment and decrepitude.
Of course, like most urban explorers, hospitals are always a Burbex favourite like The PLA Hospital in the hills, and The Catholic School cum hospital. Staying in a boring Japanese hotel chain in downtown Tianjin, Burbex didn’t have to look far for one of his favourite treats.
Burbex noticed a sign for an abandoned mortuary. What’s more, a mattress was propped up sideways against the gate making for an extremely easy entry. What Burbex did not expect was to find an enormous hospital complex, better known as Tianjin Chest Hospital.
Entering through in through the side of the mortuary, a large radiation sign warned that machine ghosts were hiding in the pitch black rooms. Burbex only had the flash on his i-phone for light, and shivers crept down his spine.
The only thing missing in these rooms were the surgeons and patients, blood spilling from surgical cuts. Huge surgical lights hang from the ceiling their many translucent eyes searching in the dark. Burbex was glad they were not looking for him.
The hospital itself is divided into a three pointed star with each of the wings stretching out with spacious wards and tonnes of empty surgery rooms. Burbex was wondering how many people had died in this hospital as he explored. The picture below shows Surgery Room No. 5 – makes you wonder how many surgery rooms there are in this huge hospital.
Inside the surgery rooms the beds and equipment still remain. Burbex found a box of surgical clamps in a dusty corner of the room. George Cloony in the TV show ER yelling “clamp” immediately. How do you say “clamp” in Chinese anyway?
As dusk was falling over the hospital, Burbex had to move fast to get his shots. The corridors stretch on and on and getting lost in this medical labyrinth is inevitable. In darkened corners are lost rooms and dispensaries. Burbex searched for the door to this dispensary for five minutes but couldn’t find it. Did they climb through the window he wondered.
The hospital is unusual for a Chinese urbex site, and mostly everything of any value will have been stolen or ripped out of the walls. Here there were machines, mementos, and objects left laying around as if someone had just stepped out of the room.
Also of great interest were the bilingual posters around the hospital, probably sent from drugs companies discussing the dangers of asthma…
…and infarction (whatever that means)
Also Burbex discovered nurses’ rooms and doctors’ offices full of leftover objects. It made Burbex realise that maybe he was a bit bored with all the abandoned industrial projects in Beijing. The objects here gave much more charm to the exploration.
Additionally, climbing out of the main building’s window, crossing over the roof of the walkway, and onto the roof of the pathology building, Burbex encountered a room full of medical files packed closely together and bound together with blood red string.
But the best was yet to come. After spending half an hour “influencing” a certain door to open, Burbex found his way into the Pathology Department, where the best find of all was found… yes, it seems to be a dissected lung.
In the green room in the Pathology Department, Burbex did not need to operate on the cupboards to find out their secrets, they had already spilled their guts for all to see.
The Blood Test Lab had also been stripped of anything of value, probably its parts all having been donated to other hospitals. Interestingly, blood red lanterns hung from the ceiling gently swaying as Burbex opened the door.
Things get even stranger though, as most of the walls in the hospital have phone numbers for nurses scrawled in marker. Burbex wondered who these “ghost nurses” were. He didn’t dare call one just in case….
…it was one of the ghost nurses from Silent Hill.
Still, the only victim/patient that Burbex found on that dusty Thursday evening after work, was a burnt out car parked outside the hospital and left to rot.
Burbex is a huge fan of abandoned hospitals, and the very spookiness, vastness, darkness, and amount of mementos that are left behind means that Burbex is awarding Tianjin Chest Hospital the highest possible score – GRADE A*