Category Archives: Weird & Wonderful

HIDDEN IN THE HILLS – PLA HOSPITAL – GRADE A

“promises made to be broken,

secrets beg to be spoken”

hidden-in-the-hills

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.

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“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.”

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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.

broken-chairs

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

all-boxed-up

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.

 

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

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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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HAVING A BLAST – CAPITAL STEEL BLAST FURNACE – GRADE A+

Fans who have been following this site for a while, will know that Burbex has a soft spot in his heart for Capital Steel. It doesn’t matter that his heart is rusting, and leaking toxic chemicals everywhere just the site itself, Capital Steel is still number one.

From the Capital Steel Laboratory, to the conveyor belts and machines that look like something from the set of the Alien movie, Capital Steel always has something new and surprising for Burbex to find. There is one place in the site however that Burbex has dreamt of getting back into for a while.

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On a previous visit, Burbex was gutted when after climbing into one of the massive blast furnaces, the sun was already going down, and it was too dark to take photos within the rotten gut of the machine. On this visit, Burbex had high hopes he could get in around midday for the awesome early afternoon light.

making tracks

Capital Steel is definitely not as easy to get into as it used to be. This is mostly because it is being eaten up by property development companies converting the old industrial buildings into modern office blocks, as well as the new overpass which is being built through parts of the complex. Burbex was confident that by following the abandoned train tracks, he could find a way in again.

Pipe Corridor

Navigating the site is not actually so difficult. Once over the walls, corridors and highways of pipes all eventually lead to the central spots where the blast furnaces are located. Burbex did have to jump over a few walls and chainlink fences along the path, but he’s used to that now.

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The way that workers got into the belly of these beasts originally was by following the highways that lead up to the second and third levels. These have been partly demolished and furthermore there are some very nasty guard dogs at the end of the ramp. Burbex could hear them baying for his blood.

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Taking an alternative route, Burbex climbed up the side of the blast furnace. This was no mean feat especially since most of the stairways are either rotting or have been cut away by scavengers. Burbex somewhat surprised himself with his climbing ability that day.

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Entering in the level beneath the blast furnace Burbex found old equipment rooms, everything covered in a thick layer of Beijing dust and catkins which absorb the moisture and leaking oil. It felt just like walking over a layer of toxic moss in a industrial jungle.

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Weaving his way through the complex machine, Burbex finally found the belly of the beast, which drips oil and rust, as well as the toxic rainwater that has collected inside. Burbex was very careful not to let any drops touch his skin.

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Massive pipe support the heart of the furnace, and this is where the fuel would’ve been burned providing energy for the blasting process.

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The huge arena-like area was filled with the sound of three huge dogs baying for Burbex’s blood, however the noisiest dog of all was a tiny mutt with fur the same colour as the rust. Had he been conceived here, the rust entering his bitch mother’s womb?

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The central structure stretches up four or five storeys. These are mostly out of reach since the staircases have been cut away, and razor sharp edges and barbwire fences are waiting to snag at catch you with a tetanus-filled bite.

Rusting Pipes

Burbex walked around and around the furnace feeling almost unable to leave. He couldn’t hear the barking of the dogs anymore, he just felt awed by this massive structure, like a cathedral of rotting industry.

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Burbex neatly slipped out the way he came in wondering how long it would be before the demolition team finally came in and finished off the structure. If you would like to sneak in before it disappears, be sure to send an email to burbex@outlook.org, and set up a time to meet. Make sure all your tentanus boosters are up to date first.

Be sure to check out the video for this post which you can see above, and as usual. Be sure to hit subscribe at the following link so that you can keep up to date with all the newest videos:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Also be sure to follow Burbex at all of your favorite social media channels, and don’t forget to hit those heart buttons, punch those like tabs, and leave your questions and comments.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER                         FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM

In the meantime, be sure to hit subscribe at the following link so that you can keep up to date with all the newest videos:

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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

To stay up-to-date with all the latest in Beijing urbex, by sure to follow Burbex on WordPress and Facebook.

Worn Out Welcome

 

GOT THE GUTS? – CATHOLIC SCHOOL – GRADE A-

What are the qualities of a good urbexer?

They have got to have a lot of heart,

They have got to have a strong stomach,

They have to have a good brain,

But most of all… they have to have lots and lots of GUTS!

Metal Gates

Beijing is an unusual place when it comes to Burbex, the main reason for this is that it is sadly lacking in historical buildings to explore. Apart from Chaoyang 81 and the Nationalist Hotel, which have both been renovated and had their ghostly residents evicted, historical buildings are thin on the ground in Beijing. That is what makes the Catholic School such a pleasure to explore.

Attic Space 3

The Catholic School came to Burbex’s attention a few years ago, exploring the attics which used to be filled with junk, but it has been locked up for some time now, each of the vast rooms hosting dormitories full of itinerant workers who have left their mark on the building, re-sculpting it to their own purposes.

All Bricked Up

The attic area itself is divided into four long areas, each supported with thick redwood beams supporting gray/blue bricks which may have been there since it was constructed more than one hundred years ago. Unusually, it seems that the workers have tried to take apart a lot of the walls on the top floor, and massive stone blocks are scattered everywhere.

The Altar Room

Attic Space 2

The other joyful think that Burbex found about the attic space is the afternoon light which just pours into the windows. Many of the large rooms on the third floor, which were likely school dormitories and altars must have been bathed in sunshine when the original inhabitants lived here.

Sunet

On the ground floor, half hidden in the dark, are rooms full of junk, possibly from when the school was used as a hospital. There are suitcases full of old shoes and clothes. There was also a lot of old computer equipment, which always brings a smile to Burbex’s face. Additonally, there was a huge collection of cassette tapes for everyone’s favourite <Boyzone>, who were of course hugely popular in China.

Storage

On the ground floor, everything is locked up tight, and the junk collects dust quietly in the dark. Judith, Burbex’s companion on this trip, was pleased with the number of “mise en scene” shots that we could achieve in the dark, like this little cherub…

Sweet Chreub

…and this fake tree growing indoors…

Rusty Tree

…and an abandoned army cap…

Officer Material

which all seem to mix up the history of the catholic school even more. Even more confusing is that the school seemed to have acted as a hospital at some point with abandoned hospital equipment and rooms left behind in the dark. This sign below is for the night surgery department.

Night Surgery

The building started to get strange and a little scary when Burbex and Judith found a hole outside which led into a semi-collapsed cellar with many stony rooms leading off to each side. Down here everything is pitch black, and even the echoes die in the dead cool air.

Collapsed Entrance

It is hard to decide what purpose many of these underground rooms served, but Burbex deduced that the one below was a ice room for storing food and drinks. It probably would’ve been insulated with tiles originally, but none of them remain. Burbex found that it was significantly colder in this chamber than the other.

Ice Room

The other rooms probably would’ve been for storing coal, as many of them have chutes which lead in from the front of the building. These are room whose walls seem to seep with moisture and other weird ectoplasm that Judith was reluctant to examine.

Glowing Doors

The first time Burbex came down here with Judith was a few months ago. Judith screamed in the dark, and Burbex ran to find her in the room that was by far the weirdest and most gruesome of them all. Burbex affectionately calls this The Organ Room.

WARNING: THE REST OF THIS POST CONTAINS IMAGES THAT VIEWERS MIGHT FIND DISTURBING.

Family Organs

In this solitary chamber Burbex found three jars each containing a complete set of human organs. One of the jars had cracked open, and the organs inside had turned to a bloody mush, but the other jars contained perfectly preserved sets of organs, some bagged and other tagged.

Mixed Guts

To Judith’s disgust, Burbex could not resist taking the lid off one of the jars. The smell of formaldehyde filled the room, and Judith retreated to the doorway.

Brain and Brawn

A closer look reveals a brain on the left and possible a set of intestines on the right. This gruesome find was highly unusual given that these organs were the only items left in the whole of the basement area. Perhaps the workers who cleared the building were too superstitious to move them.

Window and Door

Burbex and Judith were happy to make their way out of The Organ Room and into the sunshine again, but leaving The Catholic School, they both got the sense that they had left a little part of themselves down there in that dark basement.

Semi-circle View

In summary, this is not the first time Burbex has seen organs at a site, Tianjin Chest Hospital offered a strong looking pair of lungs, and when it comes to darkness Longyan International Park cannot be beaten. However The Catholic School’s combination of attic space, abandoned cellars and abandoned guts makes it an unforgettable experience earning it a solid GRADE A-.

Vertigo

By the way, if you liked this post, be sure to check out other great spooky posts like The House That Never Dies and The Qianmen Gate Haunted Hotel. Or if it is more to your taste, check out the tunnels under Tonghui International. Also be sure to check out the whole set for this post at Flickr.

Of course, if you have any suggestions for places to explore, or would like to come out with Burbex some time, please drop a line to burbex@outlook.org. If you are coming along to The Catholic School you had better bring along a crucifix and a pair of latex gloves.

 

FEELING CHESTY – TIANJIN CHEST HOSPITAL – GRADE A*

Shared Room

Burbex travels a lot for work. While tourists may look at the picturesque landscape out of the window of the train, or get excited about temples and ancient buildings, Burbex is always keeping his eyes peeled for signs of abandonment and decrepitude.

Twin Beds

Of course, like most urban explorers, hospitals are always a Burbex favourite like The PLA Hospital in the hills, and The Catholic School cum hospital. Staying in a boring Japanese hotel chain in downtown Tianjin, Burbex didn’t have to look far for one of his favourite treats.

Hotel Nikko

Burbex noticed a sign for an abandoned mortuary. What’s more, a mattress was propped up sideways against the gate making for an extremely easy entry. What Burbex did not expect was to find an enormous hospital complex, better known as Tianjin Chest Hospital.

Tianjin Chest Hospital

Entering through in through the side of the mortuary, a large radiation sign warned that machine ghosts were hiding in the pitch black rooms. Burbex only had the flash on his i-phone for light, and shivers crept down his spine.

Robot Surgery

The only thing missing in these rooms were the surgeons and patients, blood spilling from surgical cuts. Huge surgical lights hang from the ceiling their many translucent eyes searching in the dark. Burbex was glad they were not looking for him.

Five Eyes

The hospital itself is divided into a three pointed star with each of the wings stretching out with spacious wards and tonnes of empty surgery rooms. Burbex was wondering how many people had died in this hospital as he explored. The picture below shows Surgery Room No. 5 – makes you wonder how many surgery rooms there are in this huge hospital.

Surgery Room No. 5

Inside the surgery rooms the beds and equipment still remain. Burbex found a box of surgical clamps in a dusty corner of the room. George Cloony in the TV show ER yelling “clamp” immediately. How do you say “clamp” in Chinese anyway?

Cutting Edge

As dusk was falling over the hospital, Burbex had to move fast to get his shots. The corridors stretch on and on and getting lost in this medical labyrinth is inevitable. In darkened corners are lost rooms and dispensaries. Burbex searched for the door to this dispensary for five minutes but couldn’t find it. Did they climb through the window he wondered.

The Dispensary

The hospital is unusual for a Chinese urbex site, and mostly everything of any value will have been stolen or ripped out of the walls. Here there were machines, mementos, and objects left laying around as if someone had just stepped out of the room.

Mugs and Mugs

Also of great interest were the bilingual posters around the hospital, probably sent from drugs companies discussing the dangers of asthma…

Asthma Triggers

…and infarction (whatever that means)

Infarction

Also Burbex discovered nurses’ rooms and doctors’ offices full of leftover objects. It made Burbex realise that maybe he was a bit bored with all the abandoned industrial projects in Beijing. The objects here gave much more charm to the exploration.

Mugs and Mugs

Additionally, climbing out of the main building’s window, crossing over the roof of the walkway, and onto the roof of the pathology building, Burbex encountered a room full of medical files packed closely together and bound together with blood red string.

Patient Files

But the best was yet to come. After spending half an hour “influencing” a certain door to open, Burbex found his way into the Pathology Department, where the best find of all was found… yes, it seems to be a dissected lung.

Dissected Lung

In the green room in the Pathology Department, Burbex did not need to operate on the cupboards to find out their secrets, they had already spilled their guts for all to see.

Cupboard Space

The Blood Test Lab had also been stripped of anything of value, probably its parts all having been donated to other hospitals. Interestingly, blood red lanterns hung from the ceiling gently swaying as Burbex opened the door.

Blood Test Lab

Things get even stranger though, as most of the walls in the hospital have phone numbers for nurses scrawled in marker. Burbex wondered who these “ghost nurses” were. He didn’t dare call one just in case….

Nurses on Call

…it was one of the ghost nurses from Silent Hill.

Still, the only victim/patient that Burbex found on that dusty Thursday evening after work, was a burnt out car parked outside the hospital and left to rot.

Operation

Burbex is a huge fan of abandoned hospitals, and the very spookiness, vastness, darkness, and amount of mementos that are left behind means that Burbex is awarding Tianjin Chest Hospital the highest possible score – GRADE A*

Bed 93

Of course, if you would like to come along with Burbex to Tianjin Chest Hospital, or any other spooky sites like The Olympic Homko Ghost Town or Burbex’s new favourite China Film Group Studios, just send Burbex an email at burbex@outlook.com.

Ancient Stretcher

Don’t forget to bring a surgical mask, scalpel and make sure you watch at least one season of Gray’s Anatomy before you even think about making this trip though.

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.