Category Archives: Leisure

TAKING THE PISTE – ABANDONED SKI SLOPE – GRADE B+

The best sites are the ones you don’t even know you’re looking for.

Here’s a quick checklist of the kind of sites Burbex loves:

  1. sports sites like The Olympic Volleyball Court
  2. sites hidden in forests like The PLA Hospital
  3. sites which are physically challenging like The Olympic Torch

Putting these elements altogether in one site and discovering it unexpectedly in Changchun is going to make Burbex a very happy camper.

North East China is better known as the rust-belt of China, rusting factories and failed malls, but Burbex knows a few oases of green in his Chinese birthplace Changchun, namely the forest surrounding Jingyue Reservoir.

The reservoir is massive and attracts tonnes of tourists, each coughing up thirty yuan to enter the National Forest Park. Burbex hadn’t been there for more than ten years, but he still remembered the hole in the fence where entry was free of charge.

Once in the park, Burbex made a beeline to the edge of the lake, and searched for the tumbledown fairytale huts hidden in the forest where he’d sunbathed butt naked a decade before.

Unfortunately the huts and his memories had been absorbed into the forest floor, so he went looking for new secrets. After hiking about twenty kilometres around the reservoir with it’s million and one twists and turns. Burbex found what he didn’t even know he was looking for, an abandoned ski slope, ski lift, and ski lodge hidden in the forest.

At the base of the ski slope, stood the old building where broken ski mobiles, and ski equipment had been left forgotten. It also served as a storage area for some of the equipment from the new ski slope right next door to it.

A sign indicated that the ski-mobiles cost 200RMB for a 15 minute ride. Burbex didn’t think these broken down ski cats were going to be kicking up snow again any time soon.

Hundreds of pairs of skis lined the walls from the Russian ski competition which had been held there the previous year, but the condition of these skis were going downhill fast.

Everything in the building at the bottom of the slope was either breaking, about to break, or broken. Burbex has a mortal fear of breaking bones, and so made a hasty retreat.

Getting outside again, Burbex started to tramp up the extremely soggy ski slope, his already soaked trainers sinking into the soaked grass.

He even climbed a few pylons for a better view. When an iron rung snapped off under his foot, Burbex thought it better to get back to the soggy ground.

Each of the seats hung from the ski lift like overripe rusting fruit. Strangely, each was covered in a thick layer of grease, which Burbex suspected protected them from the harsh North Eastern winter.

Eventually tramping right to the top of the slope, Burbex found the Austrian-made Doppelmayr mechanism for the ski lift. Burbex tried to climb in through the bottom of the mechanism, but he fell and ended up covered in more grease than an Austrian sausage.

Still, Burbex was rewarded by a fantastic view of the reservoir from the top of the ski slope. The next step though, was to find the upper ski lodge.

Looking like a set out of a James Bond movie, the ski lodge was hidden in the thickest part of theforest. It’s deep red paint was flaking and peeling, but the design of the building was very appealing.

Red and white staircases curved round the building to the upper floors. Burbex was determined to get into this building, but it was locked down tight.

There were no open windows, no unlocked doors. Even when Burbex climbed on the roof, he found ever entry point locked down hard. Burbex doesn’t like giving up though.

Using a banner he’d found in the forest which read DON’T SMOKE IN THE WOODS, Burbex fashioned a rope, tied it to a rock and threw it up onto a balcony. Straining and pulling, Burbex pulled himself to the top, but then…

…disaster. The railing on the balcony broke, and Burbex was left treading on air, like Wylie Coyote in those Loony Toons cartoons where he hasn’t realised he’s fallen off a cliff.

At this point, his muscles aching and feeling defeated, Burbex called it a day and marched off home through the forest, vowing he would be back to defeat the beast. You can check out that diasterous tale in the video below:

By the way, if you want to come along with Burbex on a trip, be sure to drop him a line at burbex@outlook.com. If you are thinking about coming to Jingyue Park, be sure to bring rain boots and and a beekeeps mask.

Also be sure to follow Burbex at all your favourite social media sites.

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Don’t forget to hit those heart buttons, punch those like tabs, and leave your questions and comments.

THE SEED POD – WANGJING SOHO – GRADE B+

How do you find all these places anyway?”

That is the question that Burbex gets asked the most

light-trail-to-the-pod

This always surprises him, because whether he is on his bicycle or scooter, like for The Guosen Mall Towers in Dongzhimen, or in the back of a cab like The Olympic Torch on the fourth ring-road, it seems to Burbex that these places are everywhere just begging to be explored.

noodles

Burbex has had his eye on this weird building building in Wangjing Soho for a while. Fortunately, the unusual combination of whiskey, various legal stimulants, and a really good mood, led him to get into the building through the top floor and inside for some good old light painting fun.

squiggles

Burbex has not light painted since The Haunted Hotel near Qianmen Gate, which is mostly because it is a huge pain in the butt, and waving a light stick around in dark spaces not only looks crazy, but may also attract the attention of a security guard, or indeed any curious Chinese person.

red-blue-arcs

This signs in the windows of the building (see above) are inviting businesses to set up inside this weird pod building, and while there are plenty of strange buildings all over Soho, this one might be a little but too weird for even the Chinese bosses to handle.

sentinel-eye

The outside of the building resembles the head of a sentinel, the evil robots that are designed to kill mutants in the X-Men movies. Also, the sentinel’s head is covered in thousands of steel dishes, which reflect glowing red neon lights from the nearby hotpot restaurants.

x-men-schism-sentinels

Inside, the floors are all laid out ready for businesses to move in, but currently everything is just large open concrete spaces with huge weird windows, exactly the kind of space needed for light painting. Burbex only brought two light sticks, both bought from a store which sells the exact same light sticks to traffic cops.

electric

Burbex had to be careful for the sharp bolt that were sticking out of the floor. By the end of the evening his ankles were covered in scratches after crisscrossing between the pillars about half a dozen times.

red-squid

Leaping around in the dark without a torch is not usually the best idea, but it does make for some great random shots. This one reminds Burbex of those ugly Lantern Fish that live at the bottom of the sea, and use a beautiful glowing lure to enchant and then consume their prey. Fortunately, Burbex was not eaten that night.

pit-of-flames

Outside, the front balcony facing into the heart of Wangjing Business District, was ideal for creating a pit of fire. Passers by probably thought it was all part of neon effect of the whole area and didn’t give the glowing pod a second look.

no-escape

Something that Burbex finds both entertaining and frustrating about urban exploration is that you will often spend an hour trying to figure out how to get into a place, and discover a really easy way to get out.

vertical-1

An easy way in can usually be found with a fire escape, but in this case a freight elevator was also very useful getting up and down the building, although Burbex wasn’t so sure if this lift was gonna go up and down or side to side.

swarming

The main walkway on the left-hand side of the building leads right up to the surface of the building. It reminded Burbex of the British pavilion at The Shanghai Expo in 2010, in which thousands of seeds had been in encased in Perspex, as a seed bank. If you are interested in the abandoned site of the Shanghai Expo, be sure to check out this post –

miantiao

The exterior of the Seed Pod has some fantastic arches. Burbex had to dodge a few of the parked cars that were leaving. The drivers probably felt a bit confused when they saw a foreigner waving a traffic cop’s light baton. As a knock-on effect there were no traffic jams in Wangjing for the next two days.

noodles

Wrapping up the trip, Burbex yawned and started to feel like light painting is just too much hard work. Don’t get him wrong, he loves light painting, and the results are always great, but somehow it takes away the excitement of exploring a new and exciting place.

rear-parking

Despite that, as soon as Burbex forgets what a pain in the butt light painting is, he’ll probably go out and the paint the town red again. Be sure to check out the post about The Space and Science Museum and The Qiamen Haunted Hotel both of which Burbex light painted before they were renovated.

blue-red-ribbon

If you are looking for a great adventure, be sure to get in touch with Burbex at burbex@outlook.com, and set up a time to come and see the best urbex that Beijing has to offer.

Also be sure to follow Burbex at all of your favorite social media channels, and don’t forget to hit those heart buttons, punch those like tabs, and leave your questions and comments.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER                         FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM

In the meantime, be sure to hit subscribe at the following link so that you can keep up to date with all the newest videos:

SUBSCRIBE TO BURBEX YOUTUBE CHANNEL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VIDEO REPORT – FLOATING DRAGON AMUSEMENT PARK – GRADE A-

What does it mean to feel nostalgic about an abandoned place?

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It has been almost two years since Burbex posted one of his first explorations, Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park. As one of his favorites sites, he feels a kind of nostalgia about the place. Burbex never visited the place when it was open, but a few Chinese friends have mentioned they loved it when they were children.

Nostalgia is all about the past though and Burbex is keen to move into new and exciting projects. Burbex is now proud to present the new Burbex Youtube Channel, whose first episode features a return to Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park climbing up the park’s iconic Ferris Wheel. You can open the video above.

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Burbex first explores the super spooky ghost house, the aquarium, the duck boat yards, the planetarium, and then finally moves through to climb one of the arms of the sixty-four metre tall Ferris Wheel. Fans who have been visiting the website for a while will know that Burbex is not so great with heights.

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For die hard fans of the website, don’t worry, Burbex is still going to be out there sneaking into places and stealing shots of the best urbex sites that Beijing has to offer. In the meantime, be sure to hit subscribe at the following link so that you can keep up to date with all the newest videos:

SUBSCRIBE TO BURBEX YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Also be sure to follow Burbex at all of your favorite social media channels, and don’t forget to hit those heart buttons, punch those like tabs, and leave your questions and comments.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER                         FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM

Burbex wants to thank everyone for the fantastic support over the last two years, and he hopes that with your further help and encouragement, Burbex can keep on making strides in urban exploration. Be sure to check out the original report below, and Burbex can’t wait to see your comments and suggestions.

FLOATING DRAGON LAKE AMUSEMENT PARK – BEIJING – GRADE B+

 

 

 

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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.

Sludge

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…

Office Space

… 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.

Red Fan 2

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.

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.

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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

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.