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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posters on the walls boasted that the centre cost one billion yuan to build…
… 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”.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll be happy to show you around.
Also be sure to follow Burbex at all your favourite social media sites.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Massive pipe support the heart of the furnace, and this is where the fuel would’ve been burned providing energy for the blasting process.
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?
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.
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.
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 email@example.com, 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:
That is the question that Burbex gets asked the most
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
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.
If you are looking for a great adventure, be sure to get in touch with Burbex at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The crumbling staircase led into probably the largest structure in the area, a huge waterside mansion soaking its feet in the marshes.
Down in the basement were facilities for spas and swimming pools, but now the only residents taking advantage were the toads and newts.
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.
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.
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.
The pots blocked doorways and staircases, meaning that Burbex had to climb up the outside of the house to get to the second floor.
From the balcony, Burbex could see the sun gradually setting into the Hebei swamp.
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.
The two massive wings of the hotel and the grounds around them were completely empty and unkempt.
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.
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.
In the front court of the hotel, luxury cars were parked, trunks full of golf equipment for the nearby golf courses.
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.
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 email@example.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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Of course wherever the Trannie Pirate Queen goes, so too do her wild animal pals, “Dirty Nelly the Elephant”…
and fearsome “Old One-Eye the 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.
A ride called “Drag Fusion” must have been inspired by the Trannie Pirate Queen…
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.
What can be more comforting in the early afternoon than a quick ride on the carousel? Which horse do you think Burbex would choose?
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.
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…
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…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org – just don’t forget your mascara.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
Beams of sunlight lit up various enclaves like this half circle…
and this studly rectangle.
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.
On the ground floor, staircases abounded and glassless window frames let in the morning light.
Burbex could also see the luxury housing over the fence next door to the mall.
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.
One kid even seemed to be writing a cement-based novel…
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.
Other windows just provided a great sense of symmetry over the whole site.
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.
Again the view towards the Marriott Hotel was irresistible.
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.
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.
If you want to come out with Burbex some time, just send an email to email@example.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!
What is it about old hospitals that everyone loves?
Is it that we often come into the world in a hospital?
Is it that we often leave the world in a hospital?
Is it the fear of having surgeons pull out our organs?
Maybe it is all of these and more.
Anyone that reads this blog knows that Burbex is a big fan of hospitals. Not the live ones of course, but ancient decrepit ones like Saint Clement’s Psychiatric Hospital in Mile End, London which is more than two hundred years old, middle-aged corpses like Tianjin Chest Hospital, which still has machines and human organs left behind, and of course The Catholic School, which was never a real hospital anyway, just a place to throw old hearts and livers.
What is more rare to find though, is the still-born fetus of a hospital, a place that never made it to become a hospital, a place full of steel bones, and metal teeth, but none of the flesh of a full-term hospital. That is where The China Japan Friendship Hospital steps in, a hospital aborted before it was even born.
Burbex is a frequent visitor to The China Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, which is one of the top one hundred hospitals in China, and is designated a class A for excellence. The hospital was established in the 1980s to promote “friendship” between Japan and China – good luck with that!
On one of Burbex’s trips to the hospital, he noticed that there was a whole wing of the hospital that had been abandoned during construction. To the casual eye, it looks like a chimpanzees’s wet dream with scaffolding permeating the whole structure. Burbex, being a monkey’s uncle, decided to sneak in for a swing around.
Inside the place drips with rusty water and sheets of green plastic have dissolved into pools of verdant water. The construction creaks and groans, and the rainwater disappears down pipes and drilled holes that lead through the concrete and into the pitch black flooded basement.
Burbex slid and swung between the myriad scaffolding poles, and finally found the steps down into the lower level of the wing. The rusted rainwater lapped at the bottom steps of the stairwell, and where the stairs end, planks supported by underwater scaffolding cross the flooded basement.
The water is about one to two metres deep, and god only knows what sharp edges there are to suck you down into the black water and squeeze the life out of you. The planks sway and creak underfoot, and this would be completely impossible without the aid of a huge flash with 96 LEDS. The view below was utterly worth it though.
Like Sunshine Park and Chaoyang Park Ferris Wheel this subterranean world is filled with thick black water, and only a few random strands of sunlight break through the ceiling giving the place an eerie lack of light and sound.
Doorways and gateways lead into lift shafts and pits that lead down into the entirely flooded lower levels where the water is treacherously deep, and definitely a no-go for Burbex. Going in at midday though, the basement started to pick up some of the discarded light from above.
Feeling a little seasick from walking the plank, and more than a little fearful that he would fall into the abyss, Burbex decided to return topside for a little sunshine and fresh air. Above pipes and spouts grow out of the concrete just like in Super Mario, all that was missing was the mushrooms, but even a few small metal mushies made an appearance.
Besides the site itself, there was the abandoned workers cabins on the side of the site closest to the road. Inside was caked in Beijing’s typically yellow dust, and the windows were taped up with old newspapers and magazines. The room below was obviously the master bedroom.
The whole site is permeated with a rusty yellow colour which even seems to filter the light and turn the world an umber hue. This was only a very short trip early in the afternoon, but the effect of the blacked water and rusty yellow light stayed in Burbex’s mind for days after.
In summary, Burbex is always pleased when he finds these places in plain sight, and even more so when they have such dark hidden depths just waiting to be uncovered. This was an extremely dangerous site though, and Burbex will wait till the dry season before he returns. All this considered The China Japan Friendship Hospital get a firm B- Grade.
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 want to come along to the hospital you had better either be a good swimmer or bring a canoe.