Beijing Steel Works is a rare beast in the Urbex world. The site is in an almost vacuum state where it feels like all the workers just put down their tools one day and left. The machines have been left as if one turn someone will turn on the plant again.
The site is huge with more rust and corrupted cranes, pulleys, and conveyor belts that you could see in a week. The crane-like structures that you can see in the pictures apparently shifted unrefined steel to conveyor belts which stretch across the complex.
The site is massive in scale and is punctuated by enormous machines, with pipes and cooling units galore. The urbex explorer must be very careful here as the overhead structures creak in the wind and bits regularly fall off.
These metal dragons seemed to be used to scoop out the unrefined steel and shift it up onto the conveyor belts. They have big blunt teeth, and ugly faces.
Train tracks also criss-cross the plant, there are plenty of abandoned trains, carriages, and miniature train stations to be found. Jump over the outer wall, avoid the security guards, follow the train tracks and in whichever direction you travel, you’ll find some Urbex treasures.
This is a huge site, so be sure to take your time. Once you visit this place once, you’ll be addicted. If you ever want to pay a visit, just contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll show you around. Also be sure to check out Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube for great new videos every week.
If China was a human body and all the cities were organs, we could imagine that Beijing up at the top would be the brain, Shanghai would be the heart, which would probably make Kunming the reproductive organs. Where does Tieling in Liaoning fit into this metaphor?
It doesn’t! The dusty cancerous spleen was removed long ago, and it sits in a sealed jar of formaldehyde where it can be studied closely.
Additionally, it also has the worst economy of any city in the North East China rustbelt, and one of the highest divorce rates in the whole country. With those things in mind, Burbex was sure he was going to find some great abandoned buildings. Tieling did not disappoint.
The old Tianbao Gas Works has been locked up for decades. The walls outside are graffitied with accusations of corruption and government waste. Two armless manikins stand guard at the gates, their asbestos bones rattling in the dusty wind. This site is massive. Building after building of factory space.
Old office buildings have had their walls beaten and stripped of copper wires and anything of value, and the windows have been shattered by the pounding North East wind.
Everything is coated in the distinctive layer of North East dust, a combination of industrial pollution and dust which piles in every year from as far away as the Gobi Desert and Mongolia.
There are some signs of comfort within the thrashed form of the gas works. Why not take a seat in this comfortable blue sofa. Don’t get too comfortable though, as the dust may swallow you whole.
It’s hard to believe that little more than two decades ago, Chinese government workers were still using these five inch floppy discs. It’s unlikely anyone born after 1999 even knows what these are.
Oddly, for all its pollution and sense of foreboding doom, the site is surprisingly verdant. Ivy which has evolved to feed off the soil pollution clings tight to the buildings.
Random city dwellers without any land of their own, sneak into the complex and plant their guerilla gardens, and later consume the mutated sunflower seeds and pumpkins.
All in all, Tian Bao Gas Works is one of the bleakest sites Burbex has ever visited, but it is a keen reminder of how life will try to hold on in even the most messed up of places, which is why it is being awarded a B- grade.
By the way, if you liked this post, why not subscribe to Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube and check out the other great videos about Tieling, like this haunted hotel…
Burbex is not a big fan of fancy equipment. Anyone who has been out with him on trips before knows that he much prefers his battered and scratched iPhone 6 rather than his Sony RX100 m3, but the joy of the iPhone is it takes great pictures and videos and it just slides into your pocket.
The only drawback of the iPhone is that it doesn’t have inbuilt stabilisation like a more expensive DSLR might have. When Burbex first started his YouTube channel Burbex – Beijing Urban Exploration, he was very aware that many of the videos were much too shaky. You can see that in his first ever video below:
After a recommendation from Antoine, one of the stars of Burbex Gang on YouTube, Burbex invested in the Zhiyun Smooth C gimbal, and the effects were immediately noticeable. Whether running or jumping, the Smooth C stabilised the iPhone so that the images looked a million times more professional. You can see how it performs in the Pokemon Go! video below:
The gimbal works with all smart phones, and can even handle the iPhone 6+. It works on three axes, and has a tracking mode which locks on to your subject however much you move about, or joystick mode, where you can move your phone smoothly yourself. For Burbex, the battery life is most important.
While the instruction manual states the batteries only last 3-4 hours, Burbex found they last anywhere up to 10 hours on one full charge. The gimbal itself is light-weight, but made of durable metal. Burbex is rough with his kit, and the gimbal has taken some hard knocks with no trouble.
Burbex doesn’t often make recommendations about technology, but the Zhiyun Smooth C has made a world of difference his videos, and it comes at a very affordable price too. Plus, if you are looking to make videos with your camera, you could consider the Zhiyun Smooth Q, which can even support a DLSR.
Now that Burbex is feeling more stable, you can expect some great Burbex videos in the near future. Don’t forget to subscribe to Burbex – Beijing Urban Exploration on YouTube, and be sure to leave all your great comments and questions.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In cupboards, Burbex found imitation pistols, and boxes of empty chlorazopan ampules, a schizophrenia drug.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Burbex doesn’t have many secrets left, but if you want to find out a few places, be sure to send a message to email@example.com. Be sure to bring mushrooms enough for everyone though.
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:
But most of all… they have to have lots and lots of GUTS!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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…
…and this fake tree growing indoors…
…and an abandoned army cap…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are coming along to The Catholic School you had better bring along a crucifix and a pair of latex gloves.
“It’s ironic that sometimes the very security features designed to keep people out, are the features I use to get in.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ad then on the inside, an internal gate with a massive warning not to smoke inside the studios.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Plus there is a very professional makeup department…
Could you really ask for more? Oh yeah! 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.
Sometimes you get the feeling that the only urbex sites in Beijing are huge industrial sites like Jiaohua and Capital Steel, or projects that have been abandoned halfway and left to rot like Guoson Mall and Sunshine Park. Sometimes what the Beijing urbexer needs is a little bit of nostalgia to add to the diet of rebar and concrete. That’s where Beijing Film Academy steps in.
In Beijing one of the characters that the urbexer is always looking for is 拆 which means to cut down or demolish. This character is often painted on buildings slated for demolition. The buildings may remain for years without anything happening. You can see the character painted on both sides of the back lot gate in the picture below.
Once over the wall and safely in the lot, there is the feeling of a one-horse cowboy movie, you’re always expecting a Chinese John Wayne to stride through the Chinese-style gate and challenge some dupe to a shootout at midday.
The only heroes here are the dogs who will follow you everywhere around the site. They are a strange breed of mutt specially designed to make as much noise as possible, while at the same time attracting nobody’s attention.
Hidden in the back lots are props of warriors and buddhas left over from older productions. There is a strong sense of China’s histories overlapping and blending on the lots which is probably not that far from reality.
Some areas of the lot are burned down or have fallen into serious disrepair. Alleyways lead from more modern hutong scenes into ancient China.
China’s own Last Chance Saloon contains tonnes of props and relics from the height of the movie age.
Climbing up to the roof of the studio, you can get a great overview of the entire site. Be very careful though, the concrete balcony is crumbling and it is three floors down.
You don’t really realise the scale of the site until you get up on top. The main studio is all locked up. That calls for another midnight trip.
The site combines Western and Eastern styles, probably as was seen in Shanghai in the nineteenth and twentieth century.
Huge lot doors are overgrown with tumbleweeds and thick Beijing dust chokes the air.
In a hidden garden Laughing Buddha overlooks an army of plaster soldiers and demi-gods.
There are myriad doors and gates to get lost in, and the whole place has a strong sense of the film Labyrinth with its grey bricks and twisting turns.
With all this in mind, Beijing Film Academy is a perfect slice of nostalgia from a mixture of Chinese eras that never existed. It confuses the senses, and as the sun sets you are left feeling even more confused.
For these reason Burbex awards Beijing Film Academy with a B+ grade. If you would like to come along and see the site for yourself, please get in touch at email@example.com.
A bit further afield for this Burbex, Dalian is a coastal city in the North East of China. Hidden at the end of the one of the most popular beaches in the city, is this hidden gem, the ultimate in Urbex chic, that’s right, it’s an abandoned waterpark. Not only that, but it has a huge faux-mansion beside it.
There’s more than one way to kill a cat, an electric cable through the gut is pretty novel though.
To escape, you must pass a festering sewage outlet. It smells much worse than it looks.
Don’t forget that if you ever want to come to Beijing and see one of these great locations, just drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment in the box below. Don’t forget to bring your goggles and swimsuit!
How many times have I been to Capital Steel, and how many times have I found new areas to explore. This latest trip was a bonanza of new finds.
Along with entering the lofts where coal was moved along on mile-long conveyor belts, co-explorer Vom and I went further into the plant than ever, coming clear out of the other side where the cooling towers are located.
Along the way we found the laboratory where we found everything pretty much as the scientists had left it on the last day. So many bottles, flasks and crazy machines.
Unfortunately, Vom got a touch of heat stroke, and threw up (hence the nickname), but are adventures have seen the whole plant covered now.
In the cool and shady labs, mosquitoes buzzed in circles while we investigates rooms ransacked by looters.
Plus there was enough lab equipment and machines left over to make even Walter White happy.
Most of the chemicals have either dried up or grown out of their bottles and onto the work surfaces.
The other part of the factory that was new to us, was the conveyor lofts which stretch across the complex.
These are covered in a thick layer of coal dust. In the operator’s room there still remains an old bag of sugar and a plastic spoon.
Oil sticks to all the surfaces, and then catkins stick to the oil, so everything has a tarred and feathered look.
But from atop the machines there is some beautiful symmetry to be found.
Capital Steel Laboratory – we salute you – Burbex is giving you a solid Grade A, but with the heatstroke comes an important reminder to take candy and water with you when you go urbexing.
Of course, if any time you want to come urbexing with me, just leave a message on email@example.com and we can arrange a time, make sure you bring a sick bag though.
Be sure to check out the other great Capital Steel pages:-
Nestled near the entrance to the Hutongs (alleyways) near Qianmen Gate, the entrance to the famous Tiananmen Square, lies this haunted hotel.
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.
Outside, the hutongs are bathed in yellow light from the street lamps. Inside you are shrouded with cloak of thick velvet darkness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stairs snake up to bricked off and boarded up rooms, through which only the spirits of long-deceased residents can pass.
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.
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.
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.
The full moon was half-visible through the murky light of the glass skylight.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, bring a flashlight, and we’ll go ghost-hunting together.