Category Archives: Luxury

A Right Royal Mess – The Royal Hotel – Grade B+

Located at the end of the Shijia Hutong, directly opposite Dengshikou Subway Station Exit A, the Royal House (国赫宫) is a gorgeous example of French architecture. Hidden behind the surrounding yellowing sycamores, its majestic windows and four cascading rooftops stretch up into the blue winter sky, making for a home that would make the Hunchback of Notre-Dame proud. Nearby, a Beijing baoan sits in his metal booth outside the compound’s ominous black gate, socks off, feet up, snoring gently as we pass.

A stone’s throw from Wangfujing Shopping Street and 800 meters from Chang’an Road, it seems inconceivable that a property in such a location should fail so dramatically, especially given that it’s the spitting image of the ultra-plush Regent Hotel just down the road. But like all of the best French literature, the Royal House has a tragic story to tell, one of corruption and greed, rendering the luxury suites unoccupied, possibly forever.

In 2008, one year after its completion, Anjie Changdi Logistics company took charge of the sale of the complex. At the time, the project was worth an estimated RMB 2.1 billion, however, Anjie Changdi sold the project brutally short, pocketing RMB 500 million and dividing the sale between Hongyuan Real Estate and Yunnan Jinshan with 51 percent and 49 percent stakes, respectively. This is where matters began to get complicated.

In 2010, Hongyuan sold its stake in the property, giving Yunnan Jinshan full ownership of the Royal House. By this time, the property’s value had skyrocketed to RMB 3.1 billion meaning within the space of two years, Yunnan Jinshan made 500 percent profit. The only problem was that upon investigation by Soho Finance, neither Anjie Changdi nor Yunnan Jinshan actually existed and the latter was no more than a shell company – the registered address turned out to be farmland in Yunnan.

It was later discovered that Yunnan Jinshan and Anjie Changdi were registered subsidiaries of the Fujian Lijin Group, of which Chen Longji, the richest man in Fujian, was the owner. Although it is owned by the subsidiaries, the Royal House is ultimately controlled by Chen, who is holding the project hostage waiting for the price to increase even further.

Today, the 58 luxury apartments ranging between 210 and 463sqm remain empty and unfurnished. Baoanoccupy some of the ample office space on the ground floor, but the silence in the enormous two-level underground parking lot is deafening. Forget Quasimodo, the only residents now are pigeons circling the building, flying in through the open fourth-floor windows, home to their luxury roost.

2008 Beijing Olympic Village – Grade A+

If you are interested in learning more about abandoned Olympic sites in Beijing, why not head over to Burbex on YouTube and check out the abandoned Olympic Beach Volleyball Court.

Urban Exploration is all about peeling back the layers of a city like a massive onion. While it is true that Beijing can often bring tears to the eyes, that’s where the onion analogy ends. If you try to unpeel Beijing, you’ll get through layer after layer only to discover nothing at its core. That’s why Beijing can often seem so mysterious. This is nowhere more noticeable than with Beijing urbex favourite Homko Olympic Village.

The official story goes The Homko Olympic Village was built to house the Olympians during the 2008 Summer Olympics, however the Olympic teams rebuked the offer to stay in the luxury villas as pollution in the capital reached hazardous levels and the athletes feared for their health. As a result, the village never reached completion and was left to rot.

The more complex story goes that before the construction of Olympic Forest Park, this area of Beijing was a huge desolate wasteland home to junkies and bums. It was at that time Beijing North Star was buying up land and building luxury villa complexes. Unfortunately, the Homko Villa Complex, which was almost complete, run afoul of the dreaded Beijing Urban Planning Department, which ordered its demolition.

The demolition was suspended during the construction of the massive Olympic Forest Park, and it is said that officials lived within the villas at the time. That is highly doubtful given how rundown the villas are, and how the cement floors are prone to collapsing into the underground streams beneath (it’s happened twice to Burbex). Whatever the case, after the completion of the park, the villas still remained cordoned off and protected by solitary Beijing Baoan.

The true story, or at least the closest you’ll ever get to it, is that the whole complex was illegally owned by the notoriously corrupt Red Cross of China, who adamantly deny any connection with the village. It all got even murkier when it was revealed that none of the villas had property deeds, and that the village is now under the management of Olympic Forest Park.

Like any of the best urbex sites in Beijing, Homko Olympic Village has a tangled history of corruption and deceit, an image which is only strengthened when Beijing Baoan escort you from the site and force you to erase the photos from your phone. Also be warned, as beautiful as this site is, the interiors are extremely dangerous, please take care while exploring.

Dragon’s Peak Lodge – Hong Kong – A+

Burbex has lived in China since 2004, but even he is not immune to the wiles of the Public Security Bureau, who have this week sent him to Hong Kong to update his new visa. You might have guessed Burbex is not a big shopper and certainly isn’t going to push through the mainland tourists to buy cans of milk powder. But if you want to get away from the people mountain people sea, there is a place you can go where it is always quiet.

Up hidden amongst the winding paths that dissect The Peak, set on three levels you can find the decaying pre-war mansion Dragon’s Peak Lodge, or as its better known, “The Most Haunted House in Hong Kong”. Although it has some of the choicest real estate in Hong Kong, it has fallen foul to the the usual triple whammy of corruption, bad fengshui, and ghosts.

Apparently the original owner of the house which was built before World War 2 went bankrupt, and the subsequent owner died in the house. Later it is reputed that the Japanese occupied the property and several Catholic nuns were decapitated in the grounds. The gruesome reputation of the property made sure that it lay derelict for decades.

No. 32 Lugard Road last changed hands in 2004 for HK$76 million, but renovations have been constantly thwarted by construction crews who are convinced that the building is haunted, and in which they have heard an unseen child’s cries. The closest that Burbex got to any living creature nearby was an enormous porcupine that raised its quills and secreted some kind of pungent piss into the surrounding air.

The premises is set over three different levels, the main four-story house with ample attic space on the highest level, the staff quarters where a tower of 1980s washing machines still stands features in the middle level, and smaller art studios can be found on the bottom level. The house itself also faces out onto a massive garden, which in turn commands an incredible view of the bay on a clear day.

If you’d like to find out more about Burbex, why not check out Burbex on YouTube? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_nFYkcLFjn3IcyQTLy04Ig?sub_confirmation=1

JINGJIN NEW TOWN PART 3 – SPIRITED AWAY – GRADE B+

As the sun started to sink into the smoggy horizon, Jude and Burbex finally edged towards their final destination. The turrets and steeples of the gigantic hotel stabbed at the evening sky, beckoning the explorers. One thing was for sure, after the spooky American Beauty and super kitcsh Transvestite Theme Park, the hotel surely had something in great in store.

palace-view

To get into the grounds of the hotel itself, Jude and Burbex had to cross though a soggy marshland upon which enormous villas seemed to be sinking into the earth. Lakes and water features has long since overflowed and the cellars and basements were entirely flooded with fetid marsh water.

villa-rooftops

Lusty frogs croaked at the dusky sky, snapping dragonflies and mosquitoes out of the thick air. From the outside many of these villas glowed with terracotta tones lit up by the sinking sun, but close up the paint was peeling and the plaster crumbling from the walls.

decaying-villa

Marsh water and humidity had soaked the plaster and pushed the tiles off the fine front entrances, and sneaky trees grew up between the cracks further bringing the houses down.

broken-steps

The crumbling staircase led into probably the largest structure in the area, a huge waterside mansion soaking its feet in the marshes.

sunset-villa

Down in the basement were facilities for spas and swimming pools, but now the only residents taking advantage were the toads and newts.

eyes-on-the-water

The unfinished hot tub hidden in the deepest level of the basement reminded Burbex of the mud monster in the classic Japanese animation Spirited Away.

skanky-jacuzzi

Jude and Burbex did not run into any monsters in need of a good wash down this early in the evening. Perhaps they would emerge later in the night.

mud-monster

Moving up on to the ground floor the intrepid duo found some pots, lots and lots of pots. Not salt pots, not Pepper Potts (Iron Man’s girlfriend) but loads of huge terracotta pots. Burbex was stumped as to what they were used for.

pots-and-pots-of-fun

The pots blocked doorways and staircases, meaning that Burbex had to climb up the outside of the house to get to the second floor.

pots-at-the-door

From the balcony, Burbex could see the sun gradually setting into the Hebei swamp.

dusky-villa

From here the hotel looked so close Burbex could almost touch it. Legging it through the marsh, Nike Air Max full of stinky pond water squelching with each stride, Burbex finally made it to the hotel.

palace-between-villas

The two massive wings of the hotel and the grounds around them were completely empty and unkempt.

palace-corner

The two wings of the hotel surrounded a massive ice rink which had definitely seen better days. The main part of the hotel showed a few signs of life, so Burbex nipped in for a quick cup of tea.

empty-icerink

Inside the hotel was luxurious to say the least. In the completely empty main lobby, realtors stood around leisurely trying to sell the American Dream to the guests. They were obviously having trouble making sales.

luxury-lobby

In the front court of the hotel, luxury cars were parked, trunks full of golf equipment for the nearby golf courses.

luxury-hotel

Strangely Burbex felt optimistic about the future of Jinjing New Town. Massive ghost town like this may be empty now, but Burbex  is sure that with great attractions like The Transvestite Theme Park and spa facilities for the undead residents, this town is going to take off soon.

flooded-villas

If you would like to visit this site or any of the other great sites like The Solana Hotel, or watery paradises like The Great Mall of China, be sure to get in touch with Burbex at burbex@outlook.com and set up a time to meet. Just be sure to bring your monster shampoo.

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