Category Archives: Weird & Wonderful

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

TOWERS OF BABEL – SANLITUN BEIJING – GRADE B+

Is that building abandoned?

How am I going to get in?

Under the gate? Over the fence?

Any doors or windows left open?

Glass Rotunda

Many people have been asking Burbex recently how he finds his locations. Burbex is always cycling round the city keeping an eye out for new places to explore. Some of Burbex’s best sites have been discovered just by looking at a building and asking the question, “What’s on the other side of that wall?”

Glass Building

Usually the best locations are hidden in plain sight, like this fantastic location in Beijing’s trendiest neighbourhood – Sanlitun – right next door to a Lamborghini dealership.

babbling towers

The abandoned Babel Showroom was used to sell luxury apartments in The Babel Towers complex across the road. You can see the showroom in the bottom right hand corner of the artist’s impression above.

Babel Towers

This showroom was made to impress. The central rotunda is made entirely from glass bricks, and has an elaborate chandelier which hangs over a model of the site.

Elegant Fireplace

The attention to detail is amazing. There are light fittings with no light and fireplaces with no fire everywhere.

Streamlined Shade

Burbex though this lightshade looked a lot like The Starship Enterprise, but that might be overthinking it a bit.

Golden Fish

Burbex thought these lightbulbs shaped liked Goldfish were an espcially nice touch. Sadly he broke his souvenir leaving the building.

Spider Plant

Of course, everything here has been left to rot, and deceased plants lay like murder victims on the floor.

Dead Palms

This palm looks like it was trying to make its escape, turned over the pot and died of thirst on the marble floor.

Three Pillars

In among the pillars. Burbex found the golden logo of the complex. Not real gold of course, not even copper, just plastic like everything else.

Golden Towers

The showroom apartments upstairs have been commandeered by a roving band of migrant workers whose underwear Burbex found hanging beneath the spiral staircase.

Sunlight Staircase

Burbex found a bar area featuring the same circular design as the rotunda.

The Wheel Room

Further inside a meeting room with a jet black fireplace and huge meeting table can be found.

The Board Room

The best part of the showroom is the bamboo gardens outside. Most of the doors have been left unlocked, so stepping out into the green light is easy.

Green Windows

Strange sculptures dominate a garden which cannot decide whether it is modern, classical, or Zen. Is this sculpture supposed to look like a cow pat?

The Abyss

The rotunda building can be climbed upon for great views of Sanlitun.

Tree Ladder

And a zen garden for those visitors who need a little quiet contemplation after the hustle and bustle of Beijing.

Zen Garden

No urbex site in Beijing would be complete without its band of 老土包 or “country bumpkins” washing their undies and drying out roots and vegetables in the sun. Babel did not disappoint.

Plastic Fantastic

The bumpkins may have started a new religion, offering up a sacrifice of broccoli to the dark Babel obelisk.

Brocoli Sacrifice

The huge bronze-coloured gate, which the janitors use to get in and out, prevents the public getting a glimpse of the site, but Burbex always prefers the back way out.

Inescapable

In closing, Burbex was trying to recall his Bible classes at church. The Tower of Babel? Didn’t that fall down? Perhaps not the best name for a complex of luxury towers. Still, if they fall down more places for Burbex to explore.

Flying Fish

By the the way, if you liked this site, or any of the other great leisure sites like The House That Never Dies or The Swiss Cheesy Village, be sure to drop Burbex a line at burbex@outlook.com and arrange a time to meet.

 

The House That Never Dies – Chaoyang Avenue 81 – Grade A***

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QIANMEN GATE HAUNTED HOTEL – BEIJING – GRADE B+

Nestled near the entrance to the Hutongs (alleyways) near Qianmen Gate, the entrance to the famous Tiananmen Square, lies this haunted hotel.

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Upon asking locals about the hotel, they said that it used to be the residence of a Nationalist leader before the revolution in the nineteen-forties, but after the revolution it was abandoned and then later turned into a cheap hotel.

Waking the Dead

Outside, the hutongs are bathed in yellow light from the street lamps. Inside you are shrouded with cloak of thick velvet darkness.

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Unlike much of the surrounding area which has been demolished and gentrified to give Beijing’s history a more polished look, this building exerts power and more than a little menace over its small corner.

Red Skull Man

The architecture of the building crosses western and Chinese styles which was very typical of the period. On the outside it looks like a western orphanage, but on the inside it is one hundred percent Chinese.

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Going in you can hear every door in the whole place creaking in the wind. Entering into the hotel rooms you get a strong sense that these rooms have seen a lot of visitors and that some of them might never have left.

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It has three floors, and there is possibly a cellar which might connect to the underground city, but this is still yet to be found.

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Stairs snake up to bricked off and boarded up rooms, through which only the spirits of long-deceased residents can pass.

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This is an easy place to get into, but beware the balconies as they are very rickety and could collapse at any time adding you to the list of guests who never check out.

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Gusts of wind brush past your face and tickle the base of your spine. Look round fast enough and you might catch someone watching you.

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Be sure to bring a flashlight and an extra pair of batteries. The residents don’t need much excuse to jump on you once the lights are out.

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The full moon was half-visible through the murky light of the glass skylight.

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Of course, if you are ever in Beijing and you want to check out this great urbex location, or any of the other great haunted locations in Beijing like Beijing Steel Works, where thousands of people lived and died over the years, or a spooky Abandoned Theme Park, just get in touch on burbex@outlook.com,  bring a flashlight, and we’ll go ghost-hunting together.

FLOATING DRAGON LAKE AMUSEMENT PARK – BEIJING – GRADE B+

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

Planetarium vs. Ferris Wheel

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

Classical Luminesence

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

Deep Blue Ferris

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

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

ntent/uploads/2015/01/dsc00238.jpg”>Silent Turnings

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

Bright Seats

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

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

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

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

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

SUNSHINE PARK – BEIJING – GRADE B+

This is really an unusual site for Beijing as it is in Central Beijing, and is close to the ever-popular Ikea. Called Sunshine Park, it used to have a a large carnival tent in the park which has long since rotted and fallen down.

Ripple Chamber

Most of the site apart from the multi-storey carpark has become overgrown. The carpark itself goes down one floor underground, where it has filled up with rain water.

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There are some incredible effects when the sunlight comes streaming through the holes at around midday. A word of warning however…

Escher's Dream

The site is relatively safe as long as you don’t fall off the sides of the carpark. Be careful of the junkie who lives in a tent beneath the ramp of the basement floor.

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He came out of his tent clothed only in his dirty undies, and then started to bounce and scream like a monkey. After that he charged at me.

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I ran like crazy, climbed an embankment and legged it through the bushes and wilderness. I could still hear him yelling behind me.

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Below is a student’s story about first love, bad girls, and kisses.

Broken Heart Sob Story

This is the main auditorium where unusually for a Chinese site, there is a lot of graffiti. Plenty of space for more though. Bring a can.

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Sunshine Park used to be where I went for a bit of quiet when I got the Beijing Blues. It s right next to Ikea too, so you can explore then get meatballs right after.

For these reasons Sunshine Park gets a very respectable grade B+ from Burbex. By the way, if you loved this site, check out these other unfinished masterpieces Solana Hotel and Guosen Mall. Plus if you ever want to come along, just contact me on burbex@outlook.com.