Tag Archives: dark

MIDLIFE CRISIS – HARBIN vs. SHANGHAI – GRADE B-

If we are often defined by what we do,

What happens when we don’t do anything?

Harbin Old Town – Abandoned Tower Block View

It’s fair to say that Burbex is having a mid-life crisis. The thing about mid-life crises is they are very shy beasts and tend to keep themselves well-hidden under the bed, and in coat pockets, all the places you search for your wallet or phone, but never find them.

Harbin Old Town – Door X-4

The favorite habitat for a mid-life crisis is an abandoned building – the two have a lot in common. Some abandoned buildings were built decades ago for a specific purpose which they proudly performed day to day. This purpose as a steel mill, an amusement park, or twin skyscrapers full of promise, comes to define what they are. But what happens when you remove their purpose?

Harbin Old Town – Anicent Corn

It is tragic when the production lines grind to a halt, the ferris wheel ceases to turn, and when huge dusty tumbleweeds roll across the 36th floor of a dream that could have been. No matter how iconic, not matter how much it was loved and enjoyed, when you remove the purpose, only a shattered sense of identity remains.

Harbin Old Town – Burnt Out Cinema

Burbex recently visited Harbin and Shanghai, cities not only on polar opposites of the country, but also polar opposites of culture. It is a stark comparison. Harbin is like the old man who sits in his chair smoking a million dusty cigarettes a day. He lost his purpose a lifetime ago, he’s been through his mid-life crisis and while he is still beautful in his decrepitude, he can’t find any purpose in the modern world.

Harbin Old Town – Dangerous Arch

Shanghai, his southern meimei (little sister), is having her own identity crisis. She’s the kind of woman who had a huge blowout party to celebrate her fortieth birthday, but since then then it has all been facelifts, botox, nip and tuck. Everyone can see the fine lines and crow’s feet, but she covers it all up with designer makeup – always something new for this old girl.

Shanghai Expo Site – Russian Pavilion

In the meantime, the abandoned buildings in the city, some already to succumbing to the gentle onset of decay and Alzheimer’s, slowly forgetting what their original purpose was, as aunties sneak in a plant rows of vegetables on tumbledown balconies, and string clothesline between flagpoles. Either find a new identity or get demolished.

Shanghai Expo Site – Helping Hands

A few places get lucky. They make a deal with the devil, giving up their soul, renovated and reborn with a new identity in the city, who they were is swept away in the rush to modernise. Plenty still remain for Burbex to comtemplate. If you haven’t guessed, he’s also lost his purpose recently, and he too is searching for a new identity.

Shanghai Expo Site – Bulgarian Pavilion

If there are any devil’s out there, Burbex doesn’t mind signing his soul away in blood, he’s got plenty to spare as long as you don’t mind it coming from the back of his hand where he snagged it climbing over a barbed wire fence. In all seriousness, remember who you are when you go urbexing.

Shanghai Expo Site – Vanda Pavilion

Burbex has left too much of his identity in abandoned buildings and he’s forgetting who he is. If you have any suggestions about a new purpose for Burbex, or maybe you want to come out and forget who you are, get in touch at burbex@outlook.com.

Harbin Old Town – Abandoned Fire Truck

In the meantime, you can look forward to upcoming reports on Harbin Old Town and The Shanghai 2010 Expo Site. Also be sure to subscribe for all the latest videos from China and Japan in THE DEAD HOTEL SERIES.

ATLAS OBSCURA/BURBEX DOUBLE SCAVENGER HUNT 2017

Test your wits and your grit on May 6th at an abandoned hospital and Catholic school in Beijing in this year’s epic double scavenger hunt.

Burbex – Beijing Urban Exploration is proud to present the Atlas Obscura Scavenger Hunt 2017. After the success of 2016’s Olympic Village Scavenger Hunt, this year, Burbex is inviting all urban explorers to do a double scavenger hunt.

Scavengers will be exploring two exclusive sites: the first, an abandoned Peoples’ Liberation Army Hospital, and the second, a very spooky old Catholic School. Both are purportedly haunted, with strange things lurking around every corner.

Lucky scavengers will take in some of Beijing’s most unique spots, as you pit their wits against two of Burbex’s most challenging locations. Scavengers need to bring a fully charged smart phone, and suit up in durable clothes that cover the legs.

DETAILS

  • Scavengers will meet at Anheqiao Station at the end of subway line 4 at 10:30am, where they will be met by Burbex and given their instructions.
  • The Scavenger Hunt will begin on Saturday, May 6 at 11am and will last 2 to 3 hours.
  • Only 8 spots are available, at $35 per ticket. More spaces may open up if there is a lot of demand.

NOTE FOR ATTENDEES

  • Attendees need to be reasonably fit; able to climb a small fence and run around.
  • Attendees should wear dark clothes—hoodies are ideal. Clothes should not have too many straps or loose cords.
  • Attendees need to bring a smart phone with 3G/4G. A camera is also recommended, but nothing too heavy.
  • Don’t bring anything that jangles like keys.
  • Bring some water and a light lunch!

QUESTIONS?

Email taotao.holmes@atlasobscura.com or burbex@outlook.com

Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final. No Refunds or Exchanges

Buy tickets at Atlas Obscura, at the link below:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/events/burbex-atlas-obscura-scavenger-hunt-2017

Check out the full lineup of amazing adventures taking place all around the world on Obscura Day, our annual celebration of discovery!

Use the #obscuraday hashtag on your favorite social media platforms to show us how you’re celebrating. We’ll be featuring your posts on our own platforms all day, and you could even win some Atlas Obscura prizes.

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.

dead-chairs

“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.”

Arch

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.

commuinist-sinks

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.

front-gate

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.

hospital-corridor

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:

SUBSCRIBE TO BURBEX YOUTUBE CHANNEL

FOLLOW ON TWITTER

FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM

Don’t forget to hit those heart buttons, punch those like tabs, and leave your questions and comments.

 

 

 

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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.

img_0957

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.

dsc02718

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.

SUBSCRIBE TO BURBEX YOUTUBE CHANNEL

FOLLOW ON TWITTER

FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM

Don’t forget to hit those heart buttons, punch those like tabs, and leave your questions and comments.

 

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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.

img_0281

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.

img_0280

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.

img_0287

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.

img_0288

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.

img_0277

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.

img_0281

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

img_0276

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?

img_0285

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.

img_0278

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:

SUBSCRIBE TO BURBEX YOUTUBE CHANNEL

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

 

 

 

 

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.

pit-of-flames

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.

no-escape

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.

vertical-1

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.

swarming

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:

SUBSCRIBE TO BURBEX YOUTUBE CHANNEL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JINGJIN NEW TOWN PART 3 – SPIRITED AWAY – GRADE B+

As the sun started to sink into the smoggy horizon, Jude and Burbex finally edged towards their final destination. The turrets and steeples of the gigantic hotel stabbed at the evening sky, beckoning the explorers. One thing was for sure, after the spooky American Beauty and super kitcsh Transvestite Theme Park, the hotel surely had something in great in store.

palace-view

To get into the grounds of the hotel itself, Jude and Burbex had to cross though a soggy marshland upon which enormous villas seemed to be sinking into the earth. Lakes and water features has long since overflowed and the cellars and basements were entirely flooded with fetid marsh water.

villa-rooftops

Lusty frogs croaked at the dusky sky, snapping dragonflies and mosquitoes out of the thick air. From the outside many of these villas glowed with terracotta tones lit up by the sinking sun, but close up the paint was peeling and the plaster crumbling from the walls.

decaying-villa

Marsh water and humidity had soaked the plaster and pushed the tiles off the fine front entrances, and sneaky trees grew up between the cracks further bringing the houses down.

broken-steps

The crumbling staircase led into probably the largest structure in the area, a huge waterside mansion soaking its feet in the marshes.

sunset-villa

Down in the basement were facilities for spas and swimming pools, but now the only residents taking advantage were the toads and newts.

eyes-on-the-water

The unfinished hot tub hidden in the deepest level of the basement reminded Burbex of the mud monster in the classic Japanese animation Spirited Away.

skanky-jacuzzi

Jude and Burbex did not run into any monsters in need of a good wash down this early in the evening. Perhaps they would emerge later in the night.

mud-monster

Moving up on to the ground floor the intrepid duo found some pots, lots and lots of pots. Not salt pots, not Pepper Potts (Iron Man’s girlfriend) but loads of huge terracotta pots. Burbex was stumped as to what they were used for.

pots-and-pots-of-fun

The pots blocked doorways and staircases, meaning that Burbex had to climb up the outside of the house to get to the second floor.

pots-at-the-door

From the balcony, Burbex could see the sun gradually setting into the Hebei swamp.

dusky-villa

From here the hotel looked so close Burbex could almost touch it. Legging it through the marsh, Nike Air Max full of stinky pond water squelching with each stride, Burbex finally made it to the hotel.

palace-between-villas

The two massive wings of the hotel and the grounds around them were completely empty and unkempt.

palace-corner

The two wings of the hotel surrounded a massive ice rink which had definitely seen better days. The main part of the hotel showed a few signs of life, so Burbex nipped in for a quick cup of tea.

empty-icerink

Inside the hotel was luxurious to say the least. In the completely empty main lobby, realtors stood around leisurely trying to sell the American Dream to the guests. They were obviously having trouble making sales.

luxury-lobby

In the front court of the hotel, luxury cars were parked, trunks full of golf equipment for the nearby golf courses.

luxury-hotel

Strangely Burbex felt optimistic about the future of Jinjing New Town. Massive ghost town like this may be empty now, but Burbex  is sure that with great attractions like The Transvestite Theme Park and spa facilities for the undead residents, this town is going to take off soon.

flooded-villas

If you would like to visit this site or any of the other great sites like The Solana Hotel, or watery paradises like The Great Mall of China, be sure to get in touch with Burbex at burbex@outlook.com and set up a time to meet. Just be sure to bring your monster shampoo.

Burbex loves to read your comments and suggestions, so leave a message at the bottom of the page, or follow Burbex on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

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JINGJIN NEW TOWN PART 2 – TRANSVESTITE THEME PARK – GRADE B+

In the first part about Jingjin New Town we took a look at an entire city that doesn’t seem to have lived up to anyone’s dreams yet, except for Freddy Kruger who probably stalks the Americana suburbia at night. Leaving the fake suburbs though, there seemed to be a fairy tale castle on the horizon, but what’s this? First Burbex and Jude had to pass through an abandoned amusement park – Scooby Doo anyone?

ski-slope-view

The gate to the place reads “Emperor’s View Hotspring and Ski Slope” – peaking over the red wall Burbex was disappointed by a distinct lack of a ski slope, but there were the occasional shouts of Chinese joy from the nearby hotspings. Burbex was determined to make a detour around any spot where beached Chinese men were soaking their bunions.

sky-blue-pool

Fortunately there was plenty more to see in the park. An abandoned swimming pool, always one of Jude’s favorites, glowed a gentle green with the buildup of algae probably mutating in the toxic smog of the day.

volcano

The main feature of the park was a lake with a fake volcano in the middle of it. Climbing into the crater of the volcano, Burbex found decrepit red lights and smoke machines, presumably acting as a backdrop for the dance stage in front. How many sacrifices did they make to their heathen gods, Burbex wondered.

rocky-reflection

The lake was of course surrounded by all kinds of demi-gods, all present to show their respect to the volcano god. Below we can see the god of weird-looking clowns. His dark eyes looked a bit lonely, maybe he would have been happier at Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park. That place always managed to cheer up Burbex.

unhappy-clown

Aside from the more typical demigods, there was the minor deity of Transvestite Pirate Queen, she may not have been so popular back then, but she’s coming out in a big way now – ha ha!

tranny-pirate

Of course wherever the Trannie Pirate Queen goes, so too do her wild animal pals, “Dirty Nelly the Elephant”…

nellys-retirement

and fearsome “Old One-Eye the Lioness”

one-eyed-lioness

Various marine-themed slides and chutes also empty out into the vacant swimming pool. It is hard to imagine anyone ever having played in the place, but then beyond the poolside, things got a little more lively.

sliding-standards

A ride called “Drag Fusion” must have been inspired by the Trannie Pirate Queen…

swining-ride

and this distinctly sketchy ride reminded Burbex of his childhood fear of the chains breaking and hurtling into the distance to a slow and bloody demise.

swining-chairs

What can be more comforting in the early afternoon than a quick ride on the carousel? Which horse do you think Burbex would choose?

not-so-merry-go-round

None other that Old Red sporting a mohawk that even BA Baracus would be proud of. By the way, Burbex doesn’t usually wear mascara – only when visiting trannie theme parks.

me-and-old-red

Of course, young people these days don’t appreciate simple pleasures like riding an artificial horse going round in a circle, they want dune buggies with flat tyres…

dune-buggies

and everyone’s favorite, The Bumper Cars. While Burbex is a big fan of abandoned theme parks, by the end of the visit he was left feeling a little…

bumper-cars

deflated.

deflated-dreams

Moving from the the suburbs of Jingjin New Town, and finding The Transvestite Theme Park, there was only one place left to visit, that shimmering chimera on the horizon The Shining Hotel.

reflected-palace

If you are interested in transgender theme parks, or regular theme parks for that matter, be sure to take a look at Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park and if that doesn’t float your boat, then the water park at The Great Mall of China is for you.

details

Just click the buttons on the left to follow Burbex on Twitter and Facebook for new great sites every week. Plus if you are interested in coming along, send an email to burbex@outlook.com – just don’t forget your mascara.

 

 

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JINGJIN NEW TOWN PART 1 – AMERICAN BEAUTY – GRADE B+

Ghost town… let that phrase sink in for a moment.

Does it conjure up images of Wild West one horse towns, tumble weeds rolling through the dusty streets, the doors swinging on the nearby saloon, the pianola playing haunting tunes under ghostly fingertips?

Now, take that image and throw it away. China is now the world leader in ghost towns, and they are nothing like anything you can imagine. Maverick urbexer Jude pestered Burbex to go on a roadtrip to the dusty suburbs of Tianjin to check out a new city called Jingjin New Town.

manhole-cover

You may remember that Burbex is no stranger to Tianjin having explored the ghostly Tianjin Chest Hospital earlier in the year. This was a completely different kind of project altogether though. As Burbex and Jude left the uncommonly blue skies of Beijing and went across the border into Hebei, the smog got thicker and thicker.

red-rooftops-in-smog

From the end of the Tianjin subway line, a minibus arrived just in time to take us the fifty kilometres to Jingjin New Town. Neither Burbex nor Jude knew what they were looking for, but as they travelled further the already toxic smog closed in further almost blocking the view altogether.

the-main-gate

Finally, poking through the smog clouds the peaks of some of the faux-ancient buildings could be seen. Enormous constructions were everywhere stretching as far as the eye could see (which wasn’t actually that far in the smog). Burbex and co. jumped off at one of the many entrances, and went into a packed internet bar for refreshments.

locals

No wonder the complex was empty, Burbex thought as he looked at the packed net bar (note the girl picking her nose up front). This was probably the premier entertainment venue in the whole city.

empty-apartment-blocks

The first part of the complex that the duo investigated were the tower blocks, which while in a quite lovely neighbourhood, were for the most part completely empty. A local resident said that it was common for families to buy apartments here so they could gain urban household registration for their children, meaning they have certain advantages in examinations. At the same time they could still retain their rural registrations which has other benefits.

city-in-smog

Sneaking up the roof of these near-empty buildings was a cinch. Out of the smog mirage, beyond the luxury villas and faux-americana villas, there seemed to be a palace calling to the explorers.

destruction-alley

The apartment blocks were divided from the villas by a scuzzy filth infested ditch which the explorers chose to circumnavigate. Taking the long way round the urbexers finally found their way into a parallel universe. Americana never looked so good. Burbex was just waiting for Freddy Kruger to appear and tear this dream to shreds.

nightmare-on-tianjin-street

Somewhat like the The Olympic Homko Ghost Town in Beijing, the houses are beautifully designed and are obviously intended for commuters, since most of them have adjoining garages and outdoor parking.

friday-the-13th

The houses are all very similar and just go on for ever and ever as the map below suggests. This was just one small section of a suburban area that stretches as far as the eye can see.

american-beauty

Of course, Freddy Kruger was not required to know that this place was not some beautiful dream. Many of the buildings are completely empty and falling down.

complex-map

The ones beside the river are in slightly better condition, but this is only because they have been squatted by the country bumpkin contingent of security guards, migrant workers, and janitors who run the place.

old-man-fishing

The security guards seemed very concerned when they saw the duo taking photos and ushered them away. When asked how many of these places were occupied the security guard replied about ninety percent. This was obviously bullshit as not a soul could be seen on this winter day.

no-fishing

Pushing further into suburbia the villas grew larger and more glorious until they suddenly transform into full-on mansions basking by marshy lakes. The irony of these mansions is that they are even more dilapidated than the smaller ones.

img_3720

Built on marsh lands, the mansions are prone to flooding, and most of the ones observed were impassable on the ground and basement floors. This simply meant that Burbex and Jude had a fair amount of climbing to do to get into the upper floors.

lonely-tree

But once onto the rooftops and the view of the sun slowly setting through the smog over the rest of the mansions was well-worth the visit. Burbex and Jude thought that they had already seen the best of what Jingjin New Town had to offer, but there was still a great deal left for them to discover.

as-the-sun-sets-in-the-west

By the way, if you are interested in real ghostly locations like The Qianmen Gate Haunted Hotel or cursed places with horror stories of dead workers and terrible fengshui like Longyan International Park, be sure to check out the rest of the site. Also be sure to check out this great article from Lazarus about Ghost Cities in China.

In the meantime, if you ever want to come out exploring, just get in contact with Brin by email at burbex@outlook.com, and you can set up a time to meet. Don’t forget to bring your pollution mask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPIC MASCOT MALL – BEIJING – GRADE B+

It has been eight years since the Olympics were held here in Beijing. The Beijing Olympics was the first international event that catapulted China into the world’s attention. At the time there were signs of the Olympics everywhere, but since 2008 these symbols have all but disappeared.

Glassless

The few signs that were left behind have rotted away like The Olympic Homko Ghost Town are a sore reminder to most Beijingers that the Olympics was only a short-lived glory for the city and the country. It was with great pleasure then that Burbex found not only a mall abandoned during construction, but also the the abandoned Olympic mascots rotting in the long dry grass.

Beibei's Swan Dive

For those of you not familiar with the Beijing Olympic mascots, there were five of them called Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, and Yingying, and Nini. Their names all stuck together “Beijing Huanying Ni” means “Beijing Welcomes You.” Above you can see Beibei doing a swan dive into the yellow Bejing soil.

Huanhuan's Shame

Jingjing, who was black and white and looked like a panda was noticeably absent,  but Huanhuan, who is red and has hair like the Olympic flame, was found hiding her shame behind a bush.

No Pictures Please

Yingying in yellow was trying a bit of cycling on a very unreliable looking bike, no wonder she crashed into the thorny bushes – poor ying ying. For an animated Olympic mascot she does have a nice rump like you can see below…

Yingying's Bicycle Bootie

The last of the mascots Burbex found was the reclusive Nini, who in his post-Olympic shame tried to hide his green face from the camera. But wait… what’s this? Could it be that there is one more mascot to add to the five?

Nini's Disgrace

Of course, who could possible forget the Paralympic mascot Niuniu the Cow, which literally means “Little Cow”. Burbex was not quite sure what the connection between para-Olympians and juvenile bovines was, but in Chinese “niu” can also mean “awesome” as in the popular Chinese phrase “niubi” which literally means “cow’s cunt” or “fucking cool!” Does this means the Paralympics was “fucking cool? or a load of bull?

福牛乐乐

As you can see in the background, it was not the mascots that first drew Burbex to this yellow grass paradise, but rather the incomplete shopping mall, split in two and hidden behind a very fancy French restaurant.

Hidden in the Dry Grass

The mall itself is located close to the embassy district around Liangma Qiao (that’s Shining Horse Bridge in English – lots of animals in this report). The waste land around the mall is covered in weeds and dry grass that cover up all kinds of abandoned structures, but it was the mall that Burbex was interested in early one morning.

Ray of Light

Taking advantage of the morning sunlight, Burbex descended into the swampy cellar, where sunbeams were breaking their way through holes in the concrete to light up the subterranean world. The ground is soft underfoot and reminds you that large areas of Beijing used to be marshland.

Enclave

Beams of sunlight lit up various enclaves like this half circle…

Square Enclave

and this studly rectangle.

Rebar Garden

Burbex had to be very careful winding his way through the garden of rebar and cut off pipes with razor sharp edges. In fact climbing one set of stairs, an evil piece of rebar tore its way through the sleeve of Burbex’s favourite hoodie.

Stairs

On the ground floor, staircases abounded and glassless window frames let in the morning light.

Three by One

Morning Light

Burbex could also see the luxury housing over the fence next door to the mall.

Red Roof

He also suspected that the chalked grafitti on many of the columns was from the local children practicing their English compositions, “so that, in order to, so as to, in order that”. Burbex’s heart flushed to think that these young urbexers could write such good English.

In Order To

One kid even seemed to be writing a cement-based novel…

Full of Activity

The top floor boasted some great views of the swanky Marriott hotel in nearby Liangma Qiao as well as proving that Beijing does occasionally have blue skies.

Glassless

Other windows just provided a great sense of symmetry over the whole site.

Five by One

The real highlight of the mall, however, was the rooftop view looking out to the complex of high rises which seems to be taking forever to complete, probably another project going slow for lack of funds.

Overbearing Angels

Again the view towards the Marriott Hotel was irresistible.

Marriot Billboard

In closing, Burbex found that The Olympic Mascot Mall had a little bit of everything: a skanky cellar where lots of workers had pooed; cool window frames; a great rooftop; and of course a bunch of abandoned mascots. Not bad for an early morning’s work.

Six Houses

For all these reasons and more, Burbex awards The Olympic Mascot Mall with a firm B-. If you are a fan of other abandoned projects, be sure to check out The Guosen Mall with some of the best nighttime views of the city and also The Great Mall of China, which is probably never going to get finished.

Dots of Lght

If you want to come out with Burbex some time, just send an email to burbex@outlook.com, and he’ll be glad to take you on a double trip to The Olympic Mascot Mall and also The Solana Hotel which is just ten minutes walk away, and remember Beijing Huanying Ni!