Tag Archives: photography

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.

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THE HOUSE THAT NEVER DIES – CHAOYANG AVENUE – GRADE A***

When I was going up the stairs, I saw a man who wasn’t there,

He wasn’t there again today, I wish, I wish, he’s go away.

Red Shadow

“Have you ever been to that ghost house in Chaoyag District?”

That and questions about the impossible to find Underground City are probably the two most common questions that Burbex gets asked. Chaoyang 81 is now legendary in Beijing attracting visitors from all over China not just for urbex, but also for ghost hunters and thrill seekers.

Front Door

There are many urban legends about the two houses. The first myth talks about a Nationalist leader who lived in the house before the revolution. Before he and his wife could escape, his wife hanged herself from the rafters in the room you can see below.

Hanging Room

Ghost hunters and drunk kids still invade this building at night and at Halloween they have seances and try to find a ghost. This is much to the annoyance of the local government who have put up banners inside declaring:-

Don’t make love in the open house, don’t believe in ghosts.

(not sure what the connection is either)

I Believe In No Ghost

One thing is for sure, is that the building is still owned by The Catholic Diosese in Beijing, and is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of yuan. This is not surprising as it is prime real estate. The buildings themselves began to seriously decline after the release of the third rate 3D movie The House That Never Dies, which encouraged even more visitors to tear the place apart.

Chaoyang 81 Movie

Whatever the true history of the building, one thing is for sure, it is very very spooky in there at night. Burbex visited for the first time in December 2013 at 5am in the morning. Not usually one to be spooked, there was definitely a chill running down his spine.

(courtesy of James Wassenger)
(courtesy of James Wassenger)

Both buildings have extensive attic space which looks out onto a school at the back, and a building that looks like a mosque at the front. Both building also have plenty of basement rooms and hidden tunnels.

Beam of Light

The left hand building which is significantly bigger, is beginning to collapse, and it is very easy to put your foot through a floorboard and end up on story below. Chaoyang 81 has been a victim of its own success with visitors all tearing away a little piece of their own.

Brin's Room

Surprisingly when Burbex went there for the first time, there was no graffiti, rather just chalk messages in which it was written that they had seen the ghost. The only remains of ghostly activity though are left over props from the movie, and also the bizarre props from photo shoots.

Ivy League

Despite the fact that they are falling down quickly, the buildings still have an imposing presence, and as soon as you enter you notice a distinct drop in temperature. All the banisters and window frames are all made of the red wood for which Beijing is famous.

Red Wood Bannisters

As part as of the article for Burbex.org published in The Guardian newspaper, photographer James Wassenger took some night photos with light painting, one of which was used for the main picture below.

(courtesy of James Wassenger)
(courtesy of James Wassenger)

Whatever your interest in the building, from ghosts to architecture and weird history, Chaoyang 81 has something for every level of explorer. For this Chaoyang 81, The House That Never Dies, gets special mention with an A*** grade.

Window Watcher

By the way, if you are interested in other great spooky 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.

Ivy View

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 crucifix and holy water.