Category Archives: Night Run

NIGHTMARES – BRIGHT HORSE MALL – GRADE B+

I’m always looking around for new places to explore, but I never find them. How do you find these places anyway?

Constantly on the road scouting for new places to explore, Burbex is looking for a few key indicators that a building is empty. Once an urbexer knows a few of these indicators, the whole city lights up like a fairground. Bright Horse Furniture Mall is no exception. In this post, we’ll look at a few indicators.

The strongest indicator of abandonment is when construction seems to have come to a standstill. Guosen Mall hasn’t progressed since 2008, but Burbex has been keeping an eye on Bright Horse Mall for the last two years. Even though there was a recent delivery of new escalators, there hasn’t been any progress.

Burbex crept into the complex via the ramp at the rear of the building, which descends three levels into a flooded underground parking lots. Dark water has seeped in from beneath the cement floor, yet another strong sign of abandonment. Burbex kept expecting a drowned witch to rise up with her arms outstretched.

Disappointed at the lack of undead witches, Burbex climbed the internal fire escapes and cam out in the central atrium of the shopping mall. Escalators and elevators are everywhere, and even Burbex’s whispering footsteps echoed loudly in the huge space.

Another clue that a building is abandoned is the blue sheets that cover all machinery, keeping the piercing Beijing dust away from their internal mechanisms. The recently delivered escalators lurk like blue ghosts in the sprawling darkness.

Burbex eventually made his way up onto the rooftops, where the ambient light seeped through the vents and walkways, casting a purplish glow over the massive area. Purple stains like spilled iodine covered the rooftop, disinfecting the crumbling building’s wounded pride.

The half cylindrical dome that protects the mall from the elements glows a gentle blue, reflecting the light pollution. Outside the traffic sounds of the fourth ringroad echo all about, a keen reminder of both how close and far away civilisation still abounds.

The logo for the building reads 爱家商业大厦 or Love Home Trade Building. Burbex actually felt pretty estranged from his own family standing on a building in the near darkness trying to capture glimpses of emptiness. That specific feeling is always the strongest indicator a building is empty.

With the strong sense of abandonment and melancholia permeating Bright Horse Mall, Burbex awards the building with a solid B+. If ever you want to come along and discover your own hidden melancholia in the heart of a forgotten building, get in touch at burbex@outlook.com.

Also be sure to check out the new Burbex Beijing Urban Exploration channel on YouTube – all the same great locations as the blog but in full moving glory.

 

HIDDEN IN THE HILLS – PLA HOSPITAL – GRADE A

“promises made to be broken,

secrets beg to be spoken”

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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.

front-yard

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.

dead-chairs

“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.”

Arch

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.

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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.

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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.

front-gate

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.

hospital-corridor

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.

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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.

photo courtesy of Jude

In cupboards, Burbex found imitation pistols, and boxes of empty chlorazopan ampules, a schizophrenia drug.

chlorazopan

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.

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photo courtesy of Michael

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.

Four Poster Bed

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.

moldy-cheese-and-sour-wine

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.

blue-pagoda

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.

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Burbex doesn’t have many secrets left, but if you want to find out a few places, be sure to send a message to burbex@outlook.com. Be sure to bring mushrooms enough for everyone though.

photo courtesy of Michael

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:

SUBSCRIBE TO BURBEX YOUTUBE CHANNEL

FOLLOW ON TWITTER

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

 

 

 

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THE HOUSE THAT NEVER DIES – CHAOYANG AVENUE – GRADE A***

When I was going up the stairs, I saw a man who wasn’t there,

He wasn’t there again today, I wish, I wish, he’s go away.

Red Shadow

“Have you ever been to that ghost house in Chaoyag District?”

That and questions about the impossible to find Underground City are probably the two most common questions that Burbex gets asked. Chaoyang 81 is now legendary in Beijing attracting visitors from all over China not just for urbex, but also for ghost hunters and thrill seekers.

Front Door

There are many urban legends about the two houses. The first myth talks about a Nationalist leader who lived in the house before the revolution. Before he and his wife could escape, his wife hanged herself from the rafters in the room you can see below.

Hanging Room

Ghost hunters and drunk kids still invade this building at night and at Halloween they have seances and try to find a ghost. This is much to the annoyance of the local government who have put up banners inside declaring:-

Don’t make love in the open house, don’t believe in ghosts.

(not sure what the connection is either)

I Believe In No Ghost

One thing is for sure, is that the building is still owned by The Catholic Diosese in Beijing, and is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of yuan. This is not surprising as it is prime real estate. The buildings themselves began to seriously decline after the release of the third rate 3D movie The House That Never Dies, which encouraged even more visitors to tear the place apart.

Chaoyang 81 Movie

Whatever the true history of the building, one thing is for sure, it is very very spooky in there at night. Burbex visited for the first time in December 2013 at 5am in the morning. Not usually one to be spooked, there was definitely a chill running down his spine.

(courtesy of James Wassenger)
(courtesy of James Wassenger)

Both buildings have extensive attic space which looks out onto a school at the back, and a building that looks like a mosque at the front. Both building also have plenty of basement rooms and hidden tunnels.

Beam of Light

The left hand building which is significantly bigger, is beginning to collapse, and it is very easy to put your foot through a floorboard and end up on story below. Chaoyang 81 has been a victim of its own success with visitors all tearing away a little piece of their own.

Brin's Room

Surprisingly when Burbex went there for the first time, there was no graffiti, rather just chalk messages in which it was written that they had seen the ghost. The only remains of ghostly activity though are left over props from the movie, and also the bizarre props from photo shoots.

Ivy League

Despite the fact that they are falling down quickly, the buildings still have an imposing presence, and as soon as you enter you notice a distinct drop in temperature. All the banisters and window frames are all made of the red wood for which Beijing is famous.

Red Wood Bannisters

As part as of the article for Burbex.org published in The Guardian newspaper, photographer James Wassenger took some night photos with light painting, one of which was used for the main picture below.

(courtesy of James Wassenger)
(courtesy of James Wassenger)

Whatever your interest in the building, from ghosts to architecture and weird history, Chaoyang 81 has something for every level of explorer. For this Chaoyang 81, The House That Never Dies, gets special mention with an A*** grade.

Window Watcher

By the way, if you are interested in other great spooky locations like The Qianmen Gate Haunted Hotel or cursed places with horror stories of dead workers and terrible fengshui like Longyan International Park, be sure to check out the rest of the site.

Ivy View

In the meantime, if you ever want to come out exploring, just get in contact with Brin by email at burbex@outlook.com, and you can set up a time to meet. Don’t forget to bring your crucifix and holy water.

 

GUOSEN MALL NIGHT EXPEDITION- BEIJING – GRADE A***

Welcome back to the Guosen Mall twin towers, two mighty skyscrapers that loom over Dongzhimen in central Beijing. They sure do look pretty, but underneath their shiny glass surface lies a mess of concrete and steel.  So many people have contacted me about these fine structures that a night time run was called for. What’s more I was joined by my French apprentice. C’est bien!

Towering Inferno

As you may remember from a previous post, Guoson Mall complex is a defunct shopping mall, office complex, and also features twin sky scrapers. The left-hand sky scraper is easily accessible, but the right-hand one is too dangerous to climb.

Penthouse View

The skyscrapers are more than 34 storeys of back breaking climbing in the pitch black with only rolling dust and ghosts for company. The reward for this deadly climb? One of the best free views of Beijing in the whole city. Lucky for me and my apprentice, we had a clear windy night with perfect views. Enough chat, let’s look at those views.

The Bends

Don’t look down…

Dongzhimen from Above

No, really, don’t look down.

City Support

The tall building in the middle of the photo marks the centre of Beijing Central Business District.

Walking the Beams

City Scaffolding

Follow the Yellow Light Highway

City of Fallen Angels

Spectre on the Scaffolds

Is that the ghost of a deceased worker about to relive his fatal jump?

Cross Support

The upper floors of the building were originally built for air conditioning units, but now the crossbeams just whistle in the wind.

Blue Cross Sale

The very top of the building is marked with a fake bank logo. City policy is, that if the building is incomplete, it must have a glass façade to surround the building keeping with the image of the city.

Broken Bank Logo

Oakwood Figure of Four

Cross of Light

This is definitely not an urbex expedition with those suffering with vertigo, and be sure to have a good stretch before you climb the towers. Be sure to check out the rest of the complex Guoson Mall Complex. Don’t forget that if you ever want to visit one of these sites when you are in Beijing, just send me an email at burbex@outlook.com, and we can set up a time to meet.

To check out the whole set click here.

 

 

 

 

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-.

FLOATING DRAGON LAKE AMUSEMENT PARK – BEIJING – GRADE B+

Beijing Amusement Park based around the Floating Dragon Lake used to be the premier theme park in Beijing attracting 2.4 million visitors a year.

Planetarium vs. Ferris Wheel

It was famous for its roller coasters, 4D cinema, and the biggest Ferris Wheel in the capital.

Classical Luminesence

Now all that remains is the Ferris Wheel which dominates the landscape, and the ruined remains of the aquarium which has lots of graffiti.

Deep Blue Ferris

The site is sealed off from the public, but a quick hop, leap and jump make it pretty easy to enter.

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The site is connected by a series of bridges between each of the islands, and while most of them are padlocked, you can just jump into the dried out lake bed and run to the islands.

Silent Turnings

The aquarium and the horror house are easy to get into, but not much remains, but the Ferris Wheel is safely contained behind a metal fence. It slowly turns creaking in the wind.

Bright Seats

The central island is assessable by a Disneyesque bridge with turrets and a huge gate.

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Once you are past the gate, you have free rein over the park, the security guards are far too lazy to chase you this far.

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Beyond the bridge is the aquarium and the horror house. Pedlo boats line the empty basin of the lake also the lakeside.

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This is a perfect Scooby-Doo location as you poke around the horror house and listen to the creaking of the Ferris Wheel. The site is a little bare now, which is why Burbex is giving Floating Dragon Amusement Park a B+ grade.

By the way, if you liked this post, be sure to check out these other great leisure sites like Olympic Homko Ghost Town and Dalian Waterpark, plus feel free to contact me on burbex@outlook.com if you want to come along. Don’t forget to bring those Scooby Snax though.