Category Archives: Light Painting

BLOOD BATH – CHANGCHUN BATH HOUSE – GRADE B+

What better way to renew the soul,

than bathe the form in blood

You may remember in the last post Burbex was nursing a midlife crisis. What better way is there to find a new identity than exploring the frozen bowels of abandoned Changchun bathhouse? Unlike mushroom trips at The PLA Hospital or spending time with the disembodied residents at The Catholic School, Burbex wasn’t sure if he was going to reemerge this time.

May I have the last dance?

The Changchun Bathhouse had seen thousands of weddings over the past two decades, but not unlike Mrs. Haversham’s wedding in Great Expectations, the wedding scenes have been left to rot, and the groom is nowhere to be seen.

Costumes and decor from a long dead party

Burbex had not been invited to the wedding party though. Despite the grandiose decor and luxurious rooms, he was heading straight for the basement, where the upper crust of Changchun society used to bath away their filthy richness.

Blood stains on the carpets

Penetrating the lower levels of the bathhouse, everything was caked in darkness, only glimmers and glints from the spectacular chandeliers stood out in the dark, slowly swaying from unfelt gusts of spirit movement.

A chandelier slowly rots suspended

A word of warning before he entered the subterranean world. “Leave your clothes here and don’t forget to lock up your valuables.” The gaping mouths of the rotten lockers suggested, “We’re not responsible for anything you lose tonight… especially not your life!”

Long abandoned lockers rot in the dark

Burbex followed a streaking trail of red light beyond the changing room. Already in the icy depths of the bathhouse, he could feel the metamorphosis about to begin. Electricity crackled around him, drawing him to the fire pit.

A light trail penetrates the dark

A great spark of light, and the fire took it corporeal form. When the fire was brightest, only then could  the spectres who became viscous in the thick darkness which hides in hidden corridors and secret corners be called upon.

A spirit fire lights up

Burbex uttered the soundless vowels of their tongue, and with promises of blood, he drew forth a spectre which bathed in the light of the fire. It tapped its feet and drummed it’s fingers, working up the gusto for a dance.

A spectre dances macabre around the unnatural flames

The barely visible spectre emerged fully and danced his long forgotten dance:

          Follow the balls of fire to the mirror,

          where our two worlds are riven,

          there within the mirrored cage, 

          unto you a new life shall be given

Goodness gracious – great balls of fire!

The heavenly orbs appeared as promised and lit the way for Burbex to follow. Six mirrors to other worlds before him stood, dark tendrils emanated from five, but one glowed a lustful red, drawing Burbex towards it, to touch it, and move through it.

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the bloodiest of them all?

Burbex stepped through into the mirror room where a thousand reflected identities had been stored. Burbex snatched at the first new identity, which grew furnace hot and glowed proudly within his chest.

Burbex steps into the chamber

What identity Burbex grabbed out of that place or whether he’ll make it out of that mirrored cell, we’ll never know, but if you are ever looking to rediscover yourself, send him an email at burbex@outlook.com and maybe he can take you to the other side too.

By the way, if you love haunted places, be sure to check out The Qianmen Haunted Hotel and The House That Never Dies. Also check out The Dead Hotel Series on the all-new Burbex – Beijing Urban Exploration YouTube channel.

 

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.

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

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QIANMEN GATE HAUNTED HOTEL – BEIJING – GRADE B+

Nestled near the entrance to the Hutongs (alleyways) near Qianmen Gate, the entrance to the famous Tiananmen Square, lies this haunted hotel.

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Upon asking locals about the hotel, they said that it used to be the residence of a Nationalist leader before the revolution in the nineteen-forties, but after the revolution it was abandoned and then later turned into a cheap hotel.

Waking the Dead

Outside, the hutongs are bathed in yellow light from the street lamps. Inside you are shrouded with cloak of thick velvet darkness.

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Unlike much of the surrounding area which has been demolished and gentrified to give Beijing’s history a more polished look, this building exerts power and more than a little menace over its small corner.

Red Skull Man

The architecture of the building crosses western and Chinese styles which was very typical of the period. On the outside it looks like a western orphanage, but on the inside it is one hundred percent Chinese.

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Going in you can hear every door in the whole place creaking in the wind. Entering into the hotel rooms you get a strong sense that these rooms have seen a lot of visitors and that some of them might never have left.

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It has three floors, and there is possibly a cellar which might connect to the underground city, but this is still yet to be found.

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Stairs snake up to bricked off and boarded up rooms, through which only the spirits of long-deceased residents can pass.

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This is an easy place to get into, but beware the balconies as they are very rickety and could collapse at any time adding you to the list of guests who never check out.

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Gusts of wind brush past your face and tickle the base of your spine. Look round fast enough and you might catch someone watching you.

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Be sure to bring a flashlight and an extra pair of batteries. The residents don’t need much excuse to jump on you once the lights are out.

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The full moon was half-visible through the murky light of the glass skylight.

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Of course, if you are ever in Beijing and you want to check out this great urbex location, or any of the other great haunted locations in Beijing like Beijing Steel Works, where thousands of people lived and died over the years, or a spooky Abandoned Theme Park, just get in touch on burbex@outlook.com,  bring a flashlight, and we’ll go ghost-hunting together.

SPACE & SCIENCE MUSEUM – BEIJING – GRADE B-

Just a stone’s throw from The World Trade Towers and right next to An Hua Qiao Subway Station is the derelict site of Beijing Space and Science Museum.

Beijing Space Science Museum

Along with the Planetarium and the The Natural History Museum nearby in the compound, all of these buildings are due for demolition soon.

Beijing Planetarium

Crimson Rooftop

The Space Museum has recently been abandoned by the security guards which makes entering much easier than before.

Nice Curves

The museum is spread over nine floors, and the sixth floor opens out onto this awesome roof area affording some great views of the local area.

Antennae

Unfortunately most of the building has been gutted, but there are a few exhibits remaining in a few hidden corners.

Planetarium from Above

It is also very easy to get lost in the maze-like basement, but there are some great rooms to be found.

Roof Ramp

There are lots of bottles and specimens on display and in storage within the building.

Pink Specimen 2

One of the best features of the museum is the display about how ancient mines were dug.

Camp Fire

Manikins of the miners are still down there in the dark gathered around their little fires.

Mining in the Dark Two

Mining in the Dark

Light Painting 2

The museum also has a great number of open spaces which are ideal for light-painting.

Light Painting 1

Pink Floyd Tribute

The central roof is made of glass panels which from the atrium below looks magnificent.

Ceiling Three

Ceiling Two

Ceiling One

Computers are our frields

Specimen Jar

Like a lot of buildings in Beijing, it was built in the run-up to the Olympics and then just abandoned after the finish of the games. This is a relatively easy place to get into, and there is a lot to see, which is why this earns itself a hearty B-.