Category Archives: Olympics

SOLAR FLARES – 4TH RING ROAD OLYMPIC TORCH – GRADE A-


Fans of Burbex all know that he is a big fan of abandoned Olympic sites. This year Burbex has explored the Olympic Mascot Mall, where huge Olympic mascots were left to rot, the Olympic Kayaking Course, which is more like a river of dust, and of course the Olympic Volleyball Stadium with its still perfect sand court.

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But when it comes to symbols of the Olympics, you really can’t get any better than the Olympic Torch itself. Burbex had seen this torch many times taking taxis around the fourth ring-road. Trapped on an enclosed grass verge between a canal and the highway, it took Burbex a long time to figure out how to get to the torch.

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Taking a back road under a nearby train track where various ruined vehicles had reached the end of useful lives, Burbex found a small path that led up to the torch gently reflecting the evening light. Workers were coming up the dusty track on their three-wheel scooters, too busy thinking about their evening noodles to notice Burbex sneaking up the Olympic Torch.

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After gently making his way through the fence, Burbex climbed up to the concrete base, and got ready to climb the twenty five metres to the top. Within the torch itself there are two ladders that at first lean outwards, which left Burbex hanging in mid-air for half of the climb. Burbex could not possibly comment on who those bolt croppers in the photo belong to.

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After reaching the half way point, the ladders lean outwards making the climb much more enjoyable. The problem Burbex experienced was that the top of the right hand ladder was blocked by the solar panels on top of the torch, so climbing half way down, he jumped over to the other ladder, and made his way to the top from there.

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Burbex had to squeeze through one of the holes at the top and then leaned over the edge with a selfie stick to get pictures of the interior of the torch and the cars passing in the rush hour on the busy fourth ring road near Wangjing Soho.

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Burbex could not tell whether it was: a) the climb up b) his fear of heights, or c) the freezing wind, that was causing his legs to tremble at the top of that ladder. In retrospect, it was probably all three. Not entirely sure how these crazy urbexers do acrobatics on rooftops, Burbex always recommends other explorers to take it safe and slow.

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Burbex took a peep through one of the holes in the sheet metal an spied on the passing cars wondering how many of the drivers ever looked up from the road and noticed this Olympic memory. Probably none.

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Down the narrow lanes surrounding the fourth ring road, electric scooters ride home with two, three, or even four passengers headed for their surburban hovels. The Olympics was not even a daydream for those in such a deep sleep.

In closing, Burbex feels a little sad about the Olympic Torch, solar powered with so much wasted potential, and now left to rot. Still with an exciting climb and great views, it’s an easy grade A. By the way, if you are feeling full of the Olympic spirit and want to reach for the sky, just send Burbex an email at burbex@outlook.com.

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WHITE WATER DREAMS – OLYMPIC KAYAKING COURSE – BEIJING – GRADE B-

Kayak House

Hot on the heels of his success getting into the The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, Burbex was determined to find more Olympic sites from 2008. With a kind reference from a friend and with an excellent entry in Wikipedia on the subject, Burbex was easily able to find The Olympic Kayaking Course.

A Hexed Couse

Located a million miles from anything outside the sixth ring-road not far from the airport, Shunyi has definitely seen better days since the Olympics were held here eight years ago. To its credit, the Olympic Kayaking Park does still attract some visitors and the boating and wake boarding facilities are pretty decent. Burbex doesn’t care about decent though, where’s the abandoned stuff?

Colourful Course

It is extremely easy to get over the fence and actually into the dried up kayaking course. According to Wikipedia, even by Olympic standards, this was once a very challenging course, but now Burbex ran through it with no problems at all. The funny thing about his course is how underwhelming it seems without the water.

... cast the first stone

Within the dried up riverbed small rocks are scattered around, that’s in spite of the big sign that says don’t throw rocks.
Let he who is without sin...

Only the occasional signs remind you that this was once an Olympic site. Burbex had also seen these yellow signs at The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, but there were a few more here in multiple languages, like this one keeping out French giants…

Staff Only

Or this one for German women with holes in their stomachs…

Olympic Ladies

But the winner by a mile has to be the Doping Station sign. Burbex was wondering where the dope was hidden. The smog was getting thicker and he needed a pick-me-up.

Doping Station

Of course, everyone’s favourite Olympic mascots put in an appearance covering a rickety scaffolding bridge swarming with bees. You might remember Beibei from The Olympic Volleyball Stadium or Jingjing from The Olympic Mascot Mall. They looked pretty rough before, but now they are plumbing new depths.

Drowned Mascots

Bridges crisscross the course connecting grassy islands where spectators would have been sitting.

Bridge over the River Blah

Plus massive conveyor belts feature in the course which would have lifted the kayaks from the bottom of the course next to main lake…

Lifting Equipment

To the top.

Grassy Conveyor

Burbex investigated underneath the conveyor belts and found some powerful looking mechanisms.

Conveyor Controls

What are you trying to convey

The course features various flood gates to control the flow and direction of the course.

Hatches

But again, like Beibei’s Bridge, each was swarming with angry bees.

Hatch No. 1

Hatch No. 2

Hatch No. 3

Enormous pumps also controlled how much water was let into the course and presumably how fast.

Pump Station

Clambering out of the course and onto the outside banks of the course, there are some coastguard boats left to rot. While Burbex is usually known for his cat burglar-like skills, piracy was a new avenue as he climbed aboard.

Police Boat

It looked to Burbex as though the SS Chairman Mao had been in a head on collision.

Getting Smashed

Siren Song

Captain's Bridge

Take the Wheel

Full Speed Ahead

One other strange boat contraption stood nearby, like a boat with a conveyor on it. Burbex suspected this was used in emergencies to put kayaks out of the water. Now it was just rescuing a whole lot of weeds growing up the belt.

Overgrown Conveyor

One final treasure was hidden in the trees as Burbex left, a countdown clock which had long since counted past the days minutes and hours to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It seemed an appropriate farewell as Burbex waved goodbye.

Dead Time

Despite being drained out and dried up, the Olympic Kayak Course is in much better shape than its sandy cousin The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, but without the kayaks, white water rapids, and the cheering crowds up on the bridges, the course felt pretty sad. That being said Burbex still awards The Olympic Kayak Course a B- grade.

Flatwater Boathouse

If you would like to come and dip your toes into urban exploration in Beijing, or just want to stick in your oar and see what it’s all about, be sure to send an email to burbex@outlook.com, and you’ll be more than welcome to come along. Don’t forget your life jacket!

Rusted Anchor

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Worn Out Welcome

 

OLYMPIC MASCOT MALL – BEIJING – GRADE B+

It has been eight years since the Olympics were held here in Beijing. The Beijing Olympics was the first international event that catapulted China into the world’s attention. At the time there were signs of the Olympics everywhere, but since 2008 these symbols have all but disappeared.

Glassless

The few signs that were left behind have rotted away like The Olympic Homko Ghost Town are a sore reminder to most Beijingers that the Olympics was only a short-lived glory for the city and the country. It was with great pleasure then that Burbex found not only a mall abandoned during construction, but also the the abandoned Olympic mascots rotting in the long dry grass.

Beibei's Swan Dive

For those of you not familiar with the Beijing Olympic mascots, there were five of them called Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, and Yingying, and Nini. Their names all stuck together “Beijing Huanying Ni” means “Beijing Welcomes You.” Above you can see Beibei doing a swan dive into the yellow Bejing soil.

Huanhuan's Shame

Jingjing, who was black and white and looked like a panda was noticeably absent,  but Huanhuan, who is red and has hair like the Olympic flame, was found hiding her shame behind a bush.

No Pictures Please

Yingying in yellow was trying a bit of cycling on a very unreliable looking bike, no wonder she crashed into the thorny bushes – poor ying ying. For an animated Olympic mascot she does have a nice rump like you can see below…

Yingying's Bicycle Bootie

The last of the mascots Burbex found was the reclusive Nini, who in his post-Olympic shame tried to hide his green face from the camera. But wait… what’s this? Could it be that there is one more mascot to add to the five?

Nini's Disgrace

Of course, who could possible forget the Paralympic mascot Niuniu the Cow, which literally means “Little Cow”. Burbex was not quite sure what the connection between para-Olympians and juvenile bovines was, but in Chinese “niu” can also mean “awesome” as in the popular Chinese phrase “niubi” which literally means “cow’s cunt” or “fucking cool!” Does this means the Paralympics was “fucking cool? or a load of bull?

福牛乐乐

As you can see in the background, it was not the mascots that first drew Burbex to this yellow grass paradise, but rather the incomplete shopping mall, split in two and hidden behind a very fancy French restaurant.

Hidden in the Dry Grass

The mall itself is located close to the embassy district around Liangma Qiao (that’s Shining Horse Bridge in English – lots of animals in this report). The waste land around the mall is covered in weeds and dry grass that cover up all kinds of abandoned structures, but it was the mall that Burbex was interested in early one morning.

Ray of Light

Taking advantage of the morning sunlight, Burbex descended into the swampy cellar, where sunbeams were breaking their way through holes in the concrete to light up the subterranean world. The ground is soft underfoot and reminds you that large areas of Beijing used to be marshland.

Enclave

Beams of sunlight lit up various enclaves like this half circle…

Square Enclave

and this studly rectangle.

Rebar Garden

Burbex had to be very careful winding his way through the garden of rebar and cut off pipes with razor sharp edges. In fact climbing one set of stairs, an evil piece of rebar tore its way through the sleeve of Burbex’s favourite hoodie.

Stairs

On the ground floor, staircases abounded and glassless window frames let in the morning light.

Three by One

Morning Light

Burbex could also see the luxury housing over the fence next door to the mall.

Red Roof

He also suspected that the chalked grafitti on many of the columns was from the local children practicing their English compositions, “so that, in order to, so as to, in order that”. Burbex’s heart flushed to think that these young urbexers could write such good English.

In Order To

One kid even seemed to be writing a cement-based novel…

Full of Activity

The top floor boasted some great views of the swanky Marriott hotel in nearby Liangma Qiao as well as proving that Beijing does occasionally have blue skies.

Glassless

Other windows just provided a great sense of symmetry over the whole site.

Five by One

The real highlight of the mall, however, was the rooftop view looking out to the complex of high rises which seems to be taking forever to complete, probably another project going slow for lack of funds.

Overbearing Angels

Again the view towards the Marriott Hotel was irresistible.

Marriot Billboard

In closing, Burbex found that The Olympic Mascot Mall had a little bit of everything: a skanky cellar where lots of workers had pooed; cool window frames; a great rooftop; and of course a bunch of abandoned mascots. Not bad for an early morning’s work.

Six Houses

For all these reasons and more, Burbex awards The Olympic Mascot Mall with a firm B-. If you are a fan of other abandoned projects, be sure to check out The Guosen Mall with some of the best nighttime views of the city and also The Great Mall of China, which is probably never going to get finished.

Dots of Lght

If you want to come out with Burbex some time, just send an email to burbex@outlook.com, and he’ll be glad to take you on a double trip to The Olympic Mascot Mall and also The Solana Hotel which is just ten minutes walk away, and remember Beijing Huanying Ni!