Category Archives: Tall Places

SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY – ETHNIC MINORITIES MALL – GRADE B+

What does it take to make an urbex site special?

pall-mall

First of all, it should be challenging enough to keep you interested. Usually the bigger the site the better. Weird architecture, or water features are always a bonus, and if it is somehow culture related, then that’s even better. Is it possible to find sites like that these days? You bet your ass!

algae-canal

Burbex is a big fan of abandoned shopping malls, and The Ethnic Minorities Mall is no exception. Burbex has passed by this place a million times, but unlike The Great Mall of China and Guosen Mall, the Ethnic Minorities Mall does not really have an outstanding exterior, but you should never judge an urbex by its cover.

aerial-view

This Mall is actually right next to one of the stranger theme parks in Beijing called The Ethnic Minorities Theme Park featuring all 56 of China’s ethnic minortities doing their ethnic activities like hearding goats (that’s not a joke) and dancing in their own respective areas. The Mall was probably intended for greater things, but was never completed.

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After a stealthy entrance, Burbex was confronted with an enormous glass covered atrium, which was fast filling up with the drizzling rain. The place was huge and some zigzag staircases led to the roof area, while incomplete staircase invited the causal urbexer to their doom.

zigzag-stairs

From the rooftop area, Burbex had a good view of the Ethnic Minority Park, the large structure below is from the Uighur Minority who are found in Xinjiang Automonous Region, or intimidating passersby into buying enormous date cakes on street corners.

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From inside the mall, Burbex spied on the pedestrians taking shelter from the rain. The old man below stood in the same position staring into space for at least ten minutes. Like the Mall itself, he wasn’t completely there.

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Posters on the walls boasted that the centre cost one billion yuan to build…

pawn

… and that it was going to house KTV and Pawn Shops. Maybe the project would’ve been more succesful if it had concentrated on the other kind of “pawn”.

billion-yuan

The massive floor space made Burbex a little dizzy, and he had to watch his step for the canals full of algae green water that snake through the place, razor sharp rusting rebar lurking beneath the surface.

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By the way, if you are a mall rat or you want to check out some great abandoned malls like The Olympic Mascot Mall or The Great Mall of China just send Burbex an email at burbex@outlook.com and he’ll be happy to show you around.

 

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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.

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

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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

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Worn Out Welcome

 

No. 10 FALLING DOWN STREET – BEIJING – GRADE C+

“sometimes to find your way, you have to lose yourself.”

This might as well be one of Burbex’s mottos. Most people who have come out with him before have noticed that Burbex has a pretty stellar sense of direction, weaving his way through the ruins of Capital Steel or Beijing Chemical Works, he always seems to be able to sniff out an elicit entrance or a sneaky exit.

Three Towers

It is true that Burbex does get lost sometimes. That is not completely true though, it is more like “getting turned around”. This was especially true at Longyan International Park, spiralling around in the labyrinthine darkness unable to surface. That in fact gave Burbex nightmares for a while. There are times however when a simple trip to the top turns into a puzzle.

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Located in one of the more affluent neighbourhoods in Beijing, Lido is where all the foreigners can usually be found buying their imported grub and drinking at Irish bars. Looming over the neighbourhood are three twin sisters – Lido No. 10 Apartments. These expensive looking sisters were abandoned during construction and begged Burbex for a little attention.

Tropical Trough

The sisters are located next to the building site for a new subway station. Once the subway station opens, these apartments are going to skyrocket in value, which may be why the developers temporarily abandoned construction waiting for the prices to increase even further. Burbex wondered if the sisters would fall apart before the subway station opened. Burbex climbed through the abandoned workers area to get in passing a very tropical latrine.

Hot Water Girls

Sneaking through the front doors of the middle building, Burbex followed the scattered building materials covered with the usual thick layer of grease attracting the dust.

Yellow Lobby

Once down in the parking garage, Burbex got seriously confused. Exits led to dead-ends filled with weird pipes…

Crimson Pipes

… and homemade stepladders.

Ladders

An abandoned three-wheel truck stood rusting next to the exit surrounded by a veritable sea of rubbish.

Red Truck

After many false starts, Burbex eventually found his way into the darkened central staircase and began the broiling ascent to the top.

Penthouse View

Stopping to explore every fifth floor, Burbex found that each has one enormous penthouse apartment and half a dozen smaller ones. Despite the smog that covered the city that day, the views were still quite impressive.

Missing Connection

Stripped wire littered the floor in many places where scavengers have been through scavving copper. This is a sure sign the building had been abandoned Burbex thought.

Don't Look at the Rules, just Look at the Results

Reaching the 20th storey, a quickly scrawled message read in Chinese: “don’t look at the process, just look at the results.”  This must have been the motto of the migrant workers who built the place Burbex thought as he trod in an ancient turd.

Lidu View

One the shit was scrapped off his foot, Burbex finally made it to the roof. Two oval-shaped structures serve up the view on a plate.

Burbex was getting hungry and munched on a Nature Valley Granola Bar – the essential urbexing snack. Be careful though, all that fibre will make you do a big poop.

Liangma Qiao

Three stout air ventilation ducts sprouted out of the uppermost summit of the roof. Throwing rusty bolts down the chutes, Burbex listened for their hitting the bottom, which took a good ten seconds.

Three Flumes

Peering over the edge, Burbex could see the adjoining office building with an empty swimming pool on the roof. The small pond next to it stood out verdant green on the grey smog background.

Greenpool

More ventilation chutes were capped with metal chef hats.

Chef's Hat

Turning to leave, Burbex noticed a cement hand print on the wall. Was it waving goodbye or telling him not to come back again.

Cement Hands

Back in  the weird basement again, an uncanny green light permeated the darkness leaving Burbex feeling a little uneasy. With that feeling he made a bolt for the exit ramp.

Green Room

Lido No. 10 is one of those strange sites that is just a hair’s breadth away from completion, but completely empty. Some of the penthouse suits at the top look phenomenal, but with the scattering of turds and used toilet paper, it could be anywhere. Burbex emerged from the underground labyrinth with a new sense of direction.

Getting the Green Light

For these reasons and more, Lido No. 10 gets a more than respectable GRADE C+. So if you feel like you are lost, feel free to get in touch with Burbex and you can wander aimlessly in the dark in great locations like Sunshine Park or everyone’s favourite dark studio at Beijing Film Academy. Who knows, maybe you’ll finally see the light!

Front View

By the way, if you liked this post, please leave your comments at the bottom of the page and click the LIKE button. Be sure to join the Facebook Page and you can contact Burbex via email at burbex@outlook.com.

 

CHINA FILM GROUP STUDIOS – BEIJING FILM ACADEMY – GRADE A-

“It’s ironic that sometimes the very security features designed to keep people out, are the features I use to get in.”

Studios From Above

In Beijing security is often just an illusion. The city may have the world’s most CCTV cameras, but is anybody watching them? Huge rusted locks snap open with enough pull, and the bars on the windows are great ladders up onto the roofs of buildings, which is exactly how Burbex got into Beijing’s legendary film sudios.

China Film Group

Fans may recall that in March Burbex posted pictures of Beijing’s historic film studios. You can check those at this link The Back Lot at Beijing Film Academy. Burbex was very pleased to receive a lot of emails about that post asking how to get in, but a little bit sad that mostly people got caught and kicked out by the lazy janitors. Burbex decided to pay another visit to the site, and even better managed to get into the main studios.

Studio No. 5

Beijing Film Corporation has been running since after the revolution in 1949, and has been renowned for pumping out streams of Communist propaganda movies, as well as the more recent <Kung Fu Kid> (also known as <The Karate Kid> in the USA) starring Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s son, Jaden.

The main gate is huge and green, with the blazing red logo painted on the front. That didn’t put off Burbex as he climbed the window bars to the flatroof avoiding the glances of the gang of stray dogs that live in the area.

Green Gate

Jumping down from the flatroof and into the main courtyard of the studios, you notice that there is one huge studio on the right and a labyrinth of three studios on the left. Below you can see the gates to the huge right-hand studio.

Comrades Gate

Inside the studio it is black as pitch, but Burbex brought along his new LED flash and lit up the whole space. In each corner, steps zig-zag up to the heavens, and even onto the roof of the studio. That was a bit too high even for Burbex.

Zig Zag Staircase

Burbex decided to leave that for another day, and went back to the central courtyard to explore the smaller studios, which lay through another massive green gate.

Green Doors

Ad then on the inside, an internal gate with a massive warning not to smoke inside the studios.

Smoking Studio

Climbing the zigzag stairs in this studio, Burbex was glad that he had brought his mask, as the walls of the studio were lined with crumbling asbestos to fireproof the room. Once in the heavens though, there was a treat to be found.

Cake Walk

Rows and rows of walkways hang high above the ground. The wooden boards are rotting and creaking, and the asbestos ceiling is falling in. With hands gripped tightly in the half darkness, Burbex made a run to the other side. Securely on the other side, peering down into the darkness you start to realise the scale of the studio.

View from Above

These smaller studios are all connected, and the walkways lead from studio two right through to studio five at the end of the building. Between the studios are huge blast doors and rotting pipes.

Electric Blast

Coming out of Studio Five, you enter into the the makeup department of the studios, which is definitely the most fun to be had here.

Makeup Department

Each room has all kinds of weird objects and equipment left over from the movie business. Especially in the special effects and prosthetic department. There are Plaster of Paris heads everywhere.

Head and Wig

Plus there is a very professional makeup department…

Professional Makeup

Gimp masks…

The Gimp is Sleeping

Monkey Kings…

Monkey King

Could you really ask for more? Oh yeah! Uncle Fester’s head!

Uncle Fester's Head

After all that excitement in that steaming hot studio, it was time for Burbex to leave the way he came into through the lucky green doors. He of course left it unbolted so that next time he doesn’t have to climb onto the roof again.

Lucky Doors

By the way, if you liked this, then be sure to check out the previous post about The Back Lot at Beijing Film Academy which is just next door, and also check out the whole set here on Flickr. Of course, if you want to come along to any other kitschy leisure sites like Floating Dragon Amusement Park or The Great Mall of China, be sure to send Burbex an email at burbex@outlook.com.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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

 

 

 

BANANA BLIZZARD – BEIJING CHEMICAL WORKS – GRADE A+

How can the weather alter change the nature of the urbex landscape?

Bleak Mid-Winter

One of the things that you have to deal with in Beijing is the constant onslaught of crazy climate. It might be in the summer with sweat pouring down your butt crack, soot stuck to your face at Capital Steel, or on super smoggy day’s when you cannot see more than one hundred metres like at Sunshine Park.

 

Snow Factory

Nothing is better that the first snow of the winter though, especially when it just so happens to be the day that you are going to the Banana Factory.

Red Ivy Lab

It’s is not really a banana factory, it’s a huge chemical works which stretches for miles and miles. The banana part comes in because the Chinese word for banana 蕉 and the Chinese word for chemical 焦 sound the same.

Icy Tracks

These tracks and the furnaces at the side are very similar to the ones at Capital Steel, just on a smaller scale. The blizzard that raged around the place though made it feel much more hazardous.

Holy Spade

There are artefacts galore here at the Chemical Works, in fact most of the place looks like it has been swallowed up with orange mud and then left to fossilise.

Fossilised Phone

There are broken remnants of the offices strewn about, and old laboratories still contain old machines and equipment.

For Even Higher Standards Preserve Our Young Culture By Howling Glory

The caption in the old style Communist propaganda sign above reads:- FOR EVEN HIGHER STANDARDS PRESERVE OUR YOUTH CULTURE BY HOWLING GLORY. I’m not really sure what that means either.

Establish Legal Systems, Persist in Safety First

Here’s another of those meaningless signs. This ones reads:- ESTABLISH LEGAL SYSTEMS, PRACTISE SAFETY FIRST. At least that one is a bit less opaque.

Dragon's Tongue

Coal on Snow

Just like in Capital Steel, conveyor belts which used to transmit coal or slag from one side of the site to the other, curl up like the skins of long dead snakes.

Door Number Four

The factory opens up into rooms and warehouses where the blanched walls run with chemical stains and spreading rust.

Death Star

Light fittings decay in their settings and fall leaving russet stains in the fresh snow.

Dead Comfortable

Thick Beijing dust absorbs the moisture in the air and becomes a thick crust of mud that covers and preserves the whole site.

D701B

The pipes and engines that ran the site have been gutted and torn apart by scavengers. Whatever is left behind rusts in a bed of snow.

Beneath the Tower

The cooling tower stands on its spindly legs, a commanding presence over the site. Beneath the tower, all is still.

Cooling Tower Duct

Beneath the abandoned cooling tower lies a pool of water rippling gently in the blizzard breeze.

Century Gate

One of the myriad entrances to the main building is affectionately referred to as CENTURY GATE. Did the architects realise their factory would be dead by the beginning of the new century?

Captain Hook

Massive iron hooks swing on chains gently creaking.

Capsule Hotel

Fume cupboards with their doors ripped off create caverns and caves in the site, ideal for hiding from security guards.

Blizzard View

While it does have a lot in common with its older and much larger cousin Capital Steel, Jiaohua is a much more recently abandoned site and has a slight edge in terms of its charm. There are many more artifacts to be discovered, and it is going to be drawing Burbex back for more visits once the weather warms up.

For all of these reasons and more, Jiaohua is getting a solid A grade from Burbex. It should be noted that Jiaohua is slightly edgier in terms of danger, so if you are going to visit, please pay close attention to your safety.

Of course, should you need a guide, please don’t hesitate to contact me on burbex@outlook.com and we can go along together. The cost you ask? One Banana Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.