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TAKING THE PISTE – ABANDONED SKI SLOPE – GRADE B+

The best sites are the ones you don’t even know you’re looking for.

Here’s a quick checklist of the kind of sites Burbex loves:

  1. sports sites like The Olympic Volleyball Court
  2. sites hidden in forests like The PLA Hospital
  3. sites which are physically challenging like The Olympic Torch

Putting these elements altogether in one site and discovering it unexpectedly in Changchun is going to make Burbex a very happy camper.

North East China is better known as the rust-belt of China, rusting factories and failed malls, but Burbex knows a few oases of green in his Chinese birthplace Changchun, namely the forest surrounding Jingyue Reservoir.

The reservoir is massive and attracts tonnes of tourists, each coughing up thirty yuan to enter the National Forest Park. Burbex hadn’t been there for more than ten years, but he still remembered the hole in the fence where entry was free of charge.

Once in the park, Burbex made a beeline to the edge of the lake, and searched for the tumbledown fairytale huts hidden in the forest where he’d sunbathed butt naked a decade before.

Unfortunately the huts and his memories had been absorbed into the forest floor, so he went looking for new secrets. After hiking about twenty kilometres around the reservoir with it’s million and one twists and turns. Burbex found what he didn’t even know he was looking for, an abandoned ski slope, ski lift, and ski lodge hidden in the forest.

At the base of the ski slope, stood the old building where broken ski mobiles, and ski equipment had been left forgotten. It also served as a storage area for some of the equipment from the new ski slope right next door to it.

A sign indicated that the ski-mobiles cost 200RMB for a 15 minute ride. Burbex didn’t think these broken down ski cats were going to be kicking up snow again any time soon.

Hundreds of pairs of skis lined the walls from the Russian ski competition which had been held there the previous year, but the condition of these skis were going downhill fast.

Everything in the building at the bottom of the slope was either breaking, about to break, or broken. Burbex has a mortal fear of breaking bones, and so made a hasty retreat.

Getting outside again, Burbex started to tramp up the extremely soggy ski slope, his already soaked trainers sinking into the soaked grass.

He even climbed a few pylons for a better view. When an iron rung snapped off under his foot, Burbex thought it better to get back to the soggy ground.

Each of the seats hung from the ski lift like overripe rusting fruit. Strangely, each was covered in a thick layer of grease, which Burbex suspected protected them from the harsh North Eastern winter.

Eventually tramping right to the top of the slope, Burbex found the Austrian-made Doppelmayr mechanism for the ski lift. Burbex tried to climb in through the bottom of the mechanism, but he fell and ended up covered in more grease than an Austrian sausage.

Still, Burbex was rewarded by a fantastic view of the reservoir from the top of the ski slope. The next step though, was to find the upper ski lodge.

Looking like a set out of a James Bond movie, the ski lodge was hidden in the thickest part of theforest. It’s deep red paint was flaking and peeling, but the design of the building was very appealing.

Red and white staircases curved round the building to the upper floors. Burbex was determined to get into this building, but it was locked down tight.

There were no open windows, no unlocked doors. Even when Burbex climbed on the roof, he found ever entry point locked down hard. Burbex doesn’t like giving up though.

Using a banner he’d found in the forest which read DON’T SMOKE IN THE WOODS, Burbex fashioned a rope, tied it to a rock and threw it up onto a balcony. Straining and pulling, Burbex pulled himself to the top, but then…

…disaster. The railing on the balcony broke, and Burbex was left treading on air, like Wylie Coyote in those Loony Toons cartoons where he hasn’t realised he’s fallen off a cliff.

At this point, his muscles aching and feeling defeated, Burbex called it a day and marched off home through the forest, vowing he would be back to defeat the beast. You can check out that diasterous tale in the video below:

By the way, if you want to come along with Burbex on a trip, be sure to drop him a line at burbex@outlook.com. If you are thinking about coming to Jingyue Park, be sure to bring rain boots and and a beekeeps mask.

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