Tag Archives: equipment

FEELING MORE STABLE – ZHIYUN SMOOTH C – GRADE A+

When you’re having a mid-life crisis,

What you need is a bit of stability.

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.

Sony DSCRX100M3 Advanced Digital Compact Premium Camera (Wi-Fi, NFC, 180 Degrees Tiltable LCD Screen) – Black

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.

the best smart phone gimbal on the market

Andoer® Zhiyun Z1-Smooth-C 3-Axis Handheld Brushless Gimbal Smartphone Stabilizer for 5.7cm~8.5cm Width for iPhone5 / 5s/ 6 /6 Plus for Galaxy Note

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.

Zhiyun Crane-M with Dshot Tripod Professional 3-Axis Handheld Stabilizer for Smartphones Card Cameras Compact Cameras Action Cameras Some Mirrorless Cameras

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.

 

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.

TAKING THE PISTE – ABANDONED SKI SLOPE – GRADE B+

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also be sure to follow Burbex at all your favourite social media sites.

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

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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WHITE WATER DREAMS – OLYMPIC KAYAKING COURSE – BEIJING – GRADE B-

Kayak House

Hot on the heels of his success getting into the The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, Burbex was determined to find more Olympic sites from 2008. With a kind reference from a friend and with an excellent entry in Wikipedia on the subject, Burbex was easily able to find The Olympic Kayaking Course.

A Hexed Couse

Located a million miles from anything outside the sixth ring-road not far from the airport, Shunyi has definitely seen better days since the Olympics were held here eight years ago. To its credit, the Olympic Kayaking Park does still attract some visitors and the boating and wake boarding facilities are pretty decent. Burbex doesn’t care about decent though, where’s the abandoned stuff?

Colourful Course

It is extremely easy to get over the fence and actually into the dried up kayaking course. According to Wikipedia, even by Olympic standards, this was once a very challenging course, but now Burbex ran through it with no problems at all. The funny thing about his course is how underwhelming it seems without the water.

... cast the first stone

Within the dried up riverbed small rocks are scattered around, that’s in spite of the big sign that says don’t throw rocks.
Let he who is without sin...

Only the occasional signs remind you that this was once an Olympic site. Burbex had also seen these yellow signs at The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, but there were a few more here in multiple languages, like this one keeping out French giants…

Staff Only

Or this one for German women with holes in their stomachs…

Olympic Ladies

But the winner by a mile has to be the Doping Station sign. Burbex was wondering where the dope was hidden. The smog was getting thicker and he needed a pick-me-up.

Doping Station

Of course, everyone’s favourite Olympic mascots put in an appearance covering a rickety scaffolding bridge swarming with bees. You might remember Beibei from The Olympic Volleyball Stadium or Jingjing from The Olympic Mascot Mall. They looked pretty rough before, but now they are plumbing new depths.

Drowned Mascots

Bridges crisscross the course connecting grassy islands where spectators would have been sitting.

Bridge over the River Blah

Plus massive conveyor belts feature in the course which would have lifted the kayaks from the bottom of the course next to main lake…

Lifting Equipment

To the top.

Grassy Conveyor

Burbex investigated underneath the conveyor belts and found some powerful looking mechanisms.

Conveyor Controls

What are you trying to convey

The course features various flood gates to control the flow and direction of the course.

Hatches

But again, like Beibei’s Bridge, each was swarming with angry bees.

Hatch No. 1

Hatch No. 2

Hatch No. 3

Enormous pumps also controlled how much water was let into the course and presumably how fast.

Pump Station

Clambering out of the course and onto the outside banks of the course, there are some coastguard boats left to rot. While Burbex is usually known for his cat burglar-like skills, piracy was a new avenue as he climbed aboard.

Police Boat

It looked to Burbex as though the SS Chairman Mao had been in a head on collision.

Getting Smashed

Siren Song

Captain's Bridge

Take the Wheel

Full Speed Ahead

One other strange boat contraption stood nearby, like a boat with a conveyor on it. Burbex suspected this was used in emergencies to put kayaks out of the water. Now it was just rescuing a whole lot of weeds growing up the belt.

Overgrown Conveyor

One final treasure was hidden in the trees as Burbex left, a countdown clock which had long since counted past the days minutes and hours to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It seemed an appropriate farewell as Burbex waved goodbye.

Dead Time

Despite being drained out and dried up, the Olympic Kayak Course is in much better shape than its sandy cousin The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, but without the kayaks, white water rapids, and the cheering crowds up on the bridges, the course felt pretty sad. That being said Burbex still awards The Olympic Kayak Course a B- grade.

Flatwater Boathouse

If you would like to come and dip your toes into urban exploration in Beijing, or just want to stick in your oar and see what it’s all about, be sure to send an email to burbex@outlook.com, and you’ll be more than welcome to come along. Don’t forget your life jacket!

Rusted Anchor

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GREAT MALL OF CHINA – YANJIAO – GRADE A***

These days all you hear about in Beijing and beyond is about Chariman Xi Jin Ping and “The Chinese Dream”. It is actually very hard to define what this dream consists of or whether it is actually a nightmare. Whatever the case, the fences and hoarding surrounding many abandoned sites often feature these messages. Burbex was obviously having a wet dream when he revisited The Great Mall of China, one of the first locations on this website back in early 2015.

Panaromic View

Here is what the hoardings inside have to say about this magnificent site:

[The] Great Mall of China will be the world’s largest shopping mall with a thriving land area of 310,000 square meters and total built up area of 1.8 million square meters of commercial space offering shopping, entertainment, 3 theme parks, food & beverage outlets, leisure, residences, and offices all under one roof.

Where The Sun Meets The Sky

It will soon be the most sought after business and leisure destination in Beijing, Hebei, Northern China, and the entire China, being a one-stop lifestyle gallery right at your doorstep, Great Mall of China is the most remarkable and innovative property development in China.

The Bird Cage

The Great Mall of China was one of the first sites which Burbex featured on this website. Located outside in the dusty outskirts of Beijing, Burbex had been longing to return to The Great Mall, and really delve into the guts of what was supposed to be the largest mall in the world.

Eric Under The Ride

Accompanied by Eric aka Lazarus (above – bottom left), visiting from Canada, Burbex skirted the perimeter of the site, and then sliding over the back wall entered into the bird cage area that can be seen from the passing trains. More than a bird cage, this would better suit a pterodactyl from Jurassic Park.

The Bird Cage

Last time Burbex was here the cage was mostly empty. Research indicated that two concentric corkscrew roller-coasters were going to be built in this space. As usual, this is a case of the Chinese biting off more than they can chew. Now, however, the site has some more “conservative” amusements.

Hot Seat

The supports which look like blue jeans snake around the bird cage, most likely the supports for a roller-coaster. Burbex grinned as other amusement parks in Beijing like Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park have been stripped bare by looters and thieves.

Blue Trousers

Featured below is a ride called DISKO, Burbex was not really sure what that was about, a pirate ship maybe, but the huge arching grin brought a smile to Burbex’s face. Climbing up onto the higher floors behind DISKO, Burbex could see into the very heart of the complex, and he liked what he saw.

Beaming Smile

After the torrential rain the day before, the hidden water park was full to bursting, and streams of water cut their path through the many gaping holes in the roof, leaking into the pools filled with toxic green algae below. Ironically, this is probably more or less what it would’ve looked like had it ever been finished.

Where The Sun Meets The Sky

The space is absolutely enormous. The best way to get across the space is by following the edges of the pools, and then jumping onto the small concrete mushrooms to get across. There are walkways that hang ten of metres above the waterpark, but these were treacherous after the heavy rain and Burbex has a fear of dying.

Sludge

The waterpark is set on two levels, and the water from the second level likely would’ve poured down into the lower level. There are spaces that would’ve been changing rooms, saunas, and hot-tubs. Burbex tried to imagine the ghosts of the children who never came here.

Algae Slide

A mammoth water slide now chutes into a pool of toxic waste coloured algae. Burbex wondered whether he would mutate into an amphibian if he fell into the toxic mess.

Half n Half

The side of the waterpark opens up giving an expansive view of the Great Mall proper next to it. From the waterpark, Burbex and Lazarus decided to go for the triple and explore the mall itself.

Bruno

 Lazarus donned a safety helmet which he found along the way, and Burbex sneaked up endless escalators which all seem to just lead up into large dark empty spaces.

Escalating Crisis

Escalators and more escalators later lead to doors which lead nowehere. Rather than the Chinese Dream this is more like Escher’s Nightmare.

Door to Nowhere

There are huge areas of beautifully designed office space, but as is often so true with Chinese sites it is all surface…

Office Space

… and no depth.

Reflecting on Algae Pool

Everything rots, rusts, and decays into a slimy green mess distorting the reflections of the sky.

The Oval Room

Cavities and holes in the architecture look strangely sexual. What would Freud have to say about our Great Mall dream, Burbex pondered.

Blue Sky Vents

Burbex and Lazarus were poaching like eggs as the water from the flooded site evaporated in the midday sun.  The site shimmered as in a dream.

Red Fan 2

Broken down fans and air conditioners offered no respite from the sweltering heat as Burbex explored the rooftops further.

Escalating Situation

Turning back into the dark depths of this abandoned dream, Lazarus and Burbex made their way to leave The Great Mall. For others it may have been a broken dream, but for the two explorers it was an urbex dream come true.

Making a Stand

The Great Mall of China doesn’t seem to know which way it is going. At the same time as workers steal steel from the site, other workers still plunge on with construction. For this dreamlike contradiction, Burbex awards The Great Mall of China the highest award possible, a solid A***.

Beaming Smile

If you would like to visit The Great Mall of China, or any other great watery sites like flooded The China Japan Friendship Hospital or the abandoned Dalian Water Park, be sure to get in touch with Burbex at burbex@outlook.com or simply leave a comment below, and we’ll see if we can make your China Dream come true.

GOT THE GUTS? – CATHOLIC SCHOOL – GRADE A-

What are the qualities of a good urbexer?

They have got to have a lot of heart,

They have got to have a strong stomach,

They have to have a good brain,

But most of all… they have to have lots and lots of GUTS!

Metal Gates

Beijing is an unusual place when it comes to Burbex, the main reason for this is that it is sadly lacking in historical buildings to explore. Apart from Chaoyang 81 and the Nationalist Hotel, which have both been renovated and had their ghostly residents evicted, historical buildings are thin on the ground in Beijing. That is what makes the Catholic School such a pleasure to explore.

Attic Space 3

The Catholic School came to Burbex’s attention a few years ago, exploring the attics which used to be filled with junk, but it has been locked up for some time now, each of the vast rooms hosting dormitories full of itinerant workers who have left their mark on the building, re-sculpting it to their own purposes.

All Bricked Up

The attic area itself is divided into four long areas, each supported with thick redwood beams supporting gray/blue bricks which may have been there since it was constructed more than one hundred years ago. Unusually, it seems that the workers have tried to take apart a lot of the walls on the top floor, and massive stone blocks are scattered everywhere.

The Altar Room

Attic Space 2

The other joyful think that Burbex found about the attic space is the afternoon light which just pours into the windows. Many of the large rooms on the third floor, which were likely school dormitories and altars must have been bathed in sunshine when the original inhabitants lived here.

Sunet

On the ground floor, half hidden in the dark, are rooms full of junk, possibly from when the school was used as a hospital. There are suitcases full of old shoes and clothes. There was also a lot of old computer equipment, which always brings a smile to Burbex’s face. Additonally, there was a huge collection of cassette tapes for everyone’s favourite <Boyzone>, who were of course hugely popular in China.

Storage

On the ground floor, everything is locked up tight, and the junk collects dust quietly in the dark. Judith, Burbex’s companion on this trip, was pleased with the number of “mise en scene” shots that we could achieve in the dark, like this little cherub…

Sweet Chreub

…and this fake tree growing indoors…

Rusty Tree

…and an abandoned army cap…

Officer Material

which all seem to mix up the history of the catholic school even more. Even more confusing is that the school seemed to have acted as a hospital at some point with abandoned hospital equipment and rooms left behind in the dark. This sign below is for the night surgery department.

Night Surgery

The building started to get strange and a little scary when Burbex and Judith found a hole outside which led into a semi-collapsed cellar with many stony rooms leading off to each side. Down here everything is pitch black, and even the echoes die in the dead cool air.

Collapsed Entrance

It is hard to decide what purpose many of these underground rooms served, but Burbex deduced that the one below was a ice room for storing food and drinks. It probably would’ve been insulated with tiles originally, but none of them remain. Burbex found that it was significantly colder in this chamber than the other.

Ice Room

The other rooms probably would’ve been for storing coal, as many of them have chutes which lead in from the front of the building. These are room whose walls seem to seep with moisture and other weird ectoplasm that Judith was reluctant to examine.

Glowing Doors

The first time Burbex came down here with Judith was a few months ago. Judith screamed in the dark, and Burbex ran to find her in the room that was by far the weirdest and most gruesome of them all. Burbex affectionately calls this The Organ Room.

WARNING: THE REST OF THIS POST CONTAINS IMAGES THAT VIEWERS MIGHT FIND DISTURBING.

Family Organs

In this solitary chamber Burbex found three jars each containing a complete set of human organs. One of the jars had cracked open, and the organs inside had turned to a bloody mush, but the other jars contained perfectly preserved sets of organs, some bagged and other tagged.

Mixed Guts

To Judith’s disgust, Burbex could not resist taking the lid off one of the jars. The smell of formaldehyde filled the room, and Judith retreated to the doorway.

Brain and Brawn

A closer look reveals a brain on the left and possible a set of intestines on the right. This gruesome find was highly unusual given that these organs were the only items left in the whole of the basement area. Perhaps the workers who cleared the building were too superstitious to move them.

Window and Door

Burbex and Judith were happy to make their way out of The Organ Room and into the sunshine again, but leaving The Catholic School, they both got the sense that they had left a little part of themselves down there in that dark basement.

Semi-circle View

In summary, this is not the first time Burbex has seen organs at a site, Tianjin Chest Hospital offered a strong looking pair of lungs, and when it comes to darkness Longyan International Park cannot be beaten. However The Catholic School’s combination of attic space, abandoned cellars and abandoned guts makes it an unforgettable experience earning it a solid GRADE A-.

Vertigo

By the way, if you liked this post, be sure to check out other great spooky posts like The House That Never Dies and The Qianmen Gate Haunted Hotel. Or if it is more to your taste, check out the tunnels under Tonghui International. Also be sure to check out the whole set for this post at Flickr.

Of course, if you have any suggestions for places to explore, or would like to come out with Burbex some time, please drop a line to burbex@outlook.org. If you are coming along to The Catholic School you had better bring along a crucifix and a pair of latex gloves.

 

FEELING CHESTY – TIANJIN CHEST HOSPITAL – GRADE A*

Shared Room

Burbex travels a lot for work. While tourists may look at the picturesque landscape out of the window of the train, or get excited about temples and ancient buildings, Burbex is always keeping his eyes peeled for signs of abandonment and decrepitude.

Twin Beds

Of course, like most urban explorers, hospitals are always a Burbex favourite like The PLA Hospital in the hills, and The Catholic School cum hospital. Staying in a boring Japanese hotel chain in downtown Tianjin, Burbex didn’t have to look far for one of his favourite treats.

Hotel Nikko

Burbex noticed a sign for an abandoned mortuary. What’s more, a mattress was propped up sideways against the gate making for an extremely easy entry. What Burbex did not expect was to find an enormous hospital complex, better known as Tianjin Chest Hospital.

Tianjin Chest Hospital

Entering through in through the side of the mortuary, a large radiation sign warned that machine ghosts were hiding in the pitch black rooms. Burbex only had the flash on his i-phone for light, and shivers crept down his spine.

Robot Surgery

The only thing missing in these rooms were the surgeons and patients, blood spilling from surgical cuts. Huge surgical lights hang from the ceiling their many translucent eyes searching in the dark. Burbex was glad they were not looking for him.

Five Eyes

The hospital itself is divided into a three pointed star with each of the wings stretching out with spacious wards and tonnes of empty surgery rooms. Burbex was wondering how many people had died in this hospital as he explored. The picture below shows Surgery Room No. 5 – makes you wonder how many surgery rooms there are in this huge hospital.

Surgery Room No. 5

Inside the surgery rooms the beds and equipment still remain. Burbex found a box of surgical clamps in a dusty corner of the room. George Cloony in the TV show ER yelling “clamp” immediately. How do you say “clamp” in Chinese anyway?

Cutting Edge

As dusk was falling over the hospital, Burbex had to move fast to get his shots. The corridors stretch on and on and getting lost in this medical labyrinth is inevitable. In darkened corners are lost rooms and dispensaries. Burbex searched for the door to this dispensary for five minutes but couldn’t find it. Did they climb through the window he wondered.

The Dispensary

The hospital is unusual for a Chinese urbex site, and mostly everything of any value will have been stolen or ripped out of the walls. Here there were machines, mementos, and objects left laying around as if someone had just stepped out of the room.

Mugs and Mugs

Also of great interest were the bilingual posters around the hospital, probably sent from drugs companies discussing the dangers of asthma…

Asthma Triggers

…and infarction (whatever that means)

Infarction

Also Burbex discovered nurses’ rooms and doctors’ offices full of leftover objects. It made Burbex realise that maybe he was a bit bored with all the abandoned industrial projects in Beijing. The objects here gave much more charm to the exploration.

Mugs and Mugs

Additionally, climbing out of the main building’s window, crossing over the roof of the walkway, and onto the roof of the pathology building, Burbex encountered a room full of medical files packed closely together and bound together with blood red string.

Patient Files

But the best was yet to come. After spending half an hour “influencing” a certain door to open, Burbex found his way into the Pathology Department, where the best find of all was found… yes, it seems to be a dissected lung.

Dissected Lung

In the green room in the Pathology Department, Burbex did not need to operate on the cupboards to find out their secrets, they had already spilled their guts for all to see.

Cupboard Space

The Blood Test Lab had also been stripped of anything of value, probably its parts all having been donated to other hospitals. Interestingly, blood red lanterns hung from the ceiling gently swaying as Burbex opened the door.

Blood Test Lab

Things get even stranger though, as most of the walls in the hospital have phone numbers for nurses scrawled in marker. Burbex wondered who these “ghost nurses” were. He didn’t dare call one just in case….

Nurses on Call

…it was one of the ghost nurses from Silent Hill.

Still, the only victim/patient that Burbex found on that dusty Thursday evening after work, was a burnt out car parked outside the hospital and left to rot.

Operation

Burbex is a huge fan of abandoned hospitals, and the very spookiness, vastness, darkness, and amount of mementos that are left behind means that Burbex is awarding Tianjin Chest Hospital the highest possible score – GRADE A*

Bed 93

Of course, if you would like to come along with Burbex to Tianjin Chest Hospital, or any other spooky sites like The Olympic Homko Ghost Town or Burbex’s new favourite China Film Group Studios, just send Burbex an email at burbex@outlook.com.

Ancient Stretcher

Don’t forget to bring a surgical mask, scalpel and make sure you watch at least one season of Gray’s Anatomy before you even think about making this trip though.