Tag Archives: urbex

A Right Royal Mess – The Royal Hotel – Grade B+

Located at the end of the Shijia Hutong, directly opposite Dengshikou Subway Station Exit A, the Royal House (国赫宫) is a gorgeous example of French architecture. Hidden behind the surrounding yellowing sycamores, its majestic windows and four cascading rooftops stretch up into the blue winter sky, making for a home that would make the Hunchback of Notre-Dame proud. Nearby, a Beijing baoan sits in his metal booth outside the compound’s ominous black gate, socks off, feet up, snoring gently as we pass.

A stone’s throw from Wangfujing Shopping Street and 800 meters from Chang’an Road, it seems inconceivable that a property in such a location should fail so dramatically, especially given that it’s the spitting image of the ultra-plush Regent Hotel just down the road. But like all of the best French literature, the Royal House has a tragic story to tell, one of corruption and greed, rendering the luxury suites unoccupied, possibly forever.

In 2008, one year after its completion, Anjie Changdi Logistics company took charge of the sale of the complex. At the time, the project was worth an estimated RMB 2.1 billion, however, Anjie Changdi sold the project brutally short, pocketing RMB 500 million and dividing the sale between Hongyuan Real Estate and Yunnan Jinshan with 51 percent and 49 percent stakes, respectively. This is where matters began to get complicated.

In 2010, Hongyuan sold its stake in the property, giving Yunnan Jinshan full ownership of the Royal House. By this time, the property’s value had skyrocketed to RMB 3.1 billion meaning within the space of two years, Yunnan Jinshan made 500 percent profit. The only problem was that upon investigation by Soho Finance, neither Anjie Changdi nor Yunnan Jinshan actually existed and the latter was no more than a shell company – the registered address turned out to be farmland in Yunnan.

It was later discovered that Yunnan Jinshan and Anjie Changdi were registered subsidiaries of the Fujian Lijin Group, of which Chen Longji, the richest man in Fujian, was the owner. Although it is owned by the subsidiaries, the Royal House is ultimately controlled by Chen, who is holding the project hostage waiting for the price to increase even further.

Today, the 58 luxury apartments ranging between 210 and 463sqm remain empty and unfurnished. Baoanoccupy some of the ample office space on the ground floor, but the silence in the enormous two-level underground parking lot is deafening. Forget Quasimodo, the only residents now are pigeons circling the building, flying in through the open fourth-floor windows, home to their luxury roost.

2008 Beijing Olympic Village – Grade A+

If you are interested in learning more about abandoned Olympic sites in Beijing, why not head over to Burbex on YouTube and check out the abandoned Olympic Beach Volleyball Court.

Urban Exploration is all about peeling back the layers of a city like a massive onion. While it is true that Beijing can often bring tears to the eyes, that’s where the onion analogy ends. If you try to unpeel Beijing, you’ll get through layer after layer only to discover nothing at its core. That’s why Beijing can often seem so mysterious. This is nowhere more noticeable than with Beijing urbex favourite Homko Olympic Village.

The official story goes The Homko Olympic Village was built to house the Olympians during the 2008 Summer Olympics, however the Olympic teams rebuked the offer to stay in the luxury villas as pollution in the capital reached hazardous levels and the athletes feared for their health. As a result, the village never reached completion and was left to rot.

The more complex story goes that before the construction of Olympic Forest Park, this area of Beijing was a huge desolate wasteland home to junkies and bums. It was at that time Beijing North Star was buying up land and building luxury villa complexes. Unfortunately, the Homko Villa Complex, which was almost complete, run afoul of the dreaded Beijing Urban Planning Department, which ordered its demolition.

The demolition was suspended during the construction of the massive Olympic Forest Park, and it is said that officials lived within the villas at the time. That is highly doubtful given how rundown the villas are, and how the cement floors are prone to collapsing into the underground streams beneath (it’s happened twice to Burbex). Whatever the case, after the completion of the park, the villas still remained cordoned off and protected by solitary Beijing Baoan.

The true story, or at least the closest you’ll ever get to it, is that the whole complex was illegally owned by the notoriously corrupt Red Cross of China, who adamantly deny any connection with the village. It all got even murkier when it was revealed that none of the villas had property deeds, and that the village is now under the management of Olympic Forest Park.

Like any of the best urbex sites in Beijing, Homko Olympic Village has a tangled history of corruption and deceit, an image which is only strengthened when Beijing Baoan escort you from the site and force you to erase the photos from your phone. Also be warned, as beautiful as this site is, the interiors are extremely dangerous, please take care while exploring.

Dragon’s Peak Lodge – Hong Kong – A+

Burbex has lived in China since 2004, but even he is not immune to the wiles of the Public Security Bureau, who have this week sent him to Hong Kong to update his new visa. You might have guessed Burbex is not a big shopper and certainly isn’t going to push through the mainland tourists to buy cans of milk powder. But if you want to get away from the people mountain people sea, there is a place you can go where it is always quiet.

Up hidden amongst the winding paths that dissect The Peak, set on three levels you can find the decaying pre-war mansion Dragon’s Peak Lodge, or as its better known, “The Most Haunted House in Hong Kong”. Although it has some of the choicest real estate in Hong Kong, it has fallen foul to the the usual triple whammy of corruption, bad fengshui, and ghosts.

Apparently the original owner of the house which was built before World War 2 went bankrupt, and the subsequent owner died in the house. Later it is reputed that the Japanese occupied the property and several Catholic nuns were decapitated in the grounds. The gruesome reputation of the property made sure that it lay derelict for decades.

No. 32 Lugard Road last changed hands in 2004 for HK$76 million, but renovations have been constantly thwarted by construction crews who are convinced that the building is haunted, and in which they have heard an unseen child’s cries. The closest that Burbex got to any living creature nearby was an enormous porcupine that raised its quills and secreted some kind of pungent piss into the surrounding air.

The premises is set over three different levels, the main four-story house with ample attic space on the highest level, the staff quarters where a tower of 1980s washing machines still stands features in the middle level, and smaller art studios can be found on the bottom level. The house itself also faces out onto a massive garden, which in turn commands an incredible view of the bay on a clear day.

If you’d like to find out more about Burbex, why not check out Burbex on YouTube? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_nFYkcLFjn3IcyQTLy04Ig?sub_confirmation=1

Urbex University – Kaifeng – Grade B+

Kaifeng… um? There’s not a lot to be said about the place really. It’s got a good food street where you can get all kinds of chuan’er and those bins full of old chuan’er skewers looking a lot like massive porcupines. It’s got a fancy hotel with hot springs that smell particularly sulphorous, good for the skin apparently. No, not a lot to say about Kaifeng really. Oh, except maybe that enormous abandoned university right in the middle of the city.

That’s one of the things about these faceless cities, they often have the best forgotten sites. Burbex wasn’t expecting much when he jumped over the fence, least of all an abandoned library, chemistry lab, sculptures and a shoe full of blood, but that’s one of the draws of urban exploration, it’s full of surprises.

Burbex tries to look the part when he goes exploring, tight black clothes that don’t snag easily, and Nike Air Max which are great for softening his landings. Broken glass was everywhere, literally more blades of glass than grass on the expansive lawns. As Annie Lennox suggests, walking on broken glass is no mean feat, but Burbex successfully crunched through the glass on tiptoes and found his way into the library.

In something reminiscent of the beginning of Ghostbusters, dozens of book file card cabinets had been flung open and cards covered the floor. On the walls portraits of Einstein and Marx looked down with their inspirational quotes, but looking more simian than human, think Planet of the Apes.

In the sculpture department, Burbex found Chinese rip-offs of David by Michelangelo, which were at least more human-looking than the hairy-faced Darwin. It was around this time Burbex noticed a wheezing sound coming from his right Nike, accompanied by a squelch. A shard of glass had not only gone right through the Nike causing it to deflate the bubble, but also right through it the sole of his foot causing the shoe to fill with blood. Apparently, you only need three tetanus shots in your whole life, so Burbex was pretty sure he was safe against lockjaw, but hobbling back to the hotel with that squelch not only deflated his shoe but also his pride.

Later, sitting in a sulfurous hot tub examining the injuries, Burbex decided that Nike Air Max are no longer part of his kit, after all that’s the third pair he’s popped. First pair, nail in Guosen Mall, second pair jumping from a wall in the abandoned Olympic Volleyball Court. Back to skate shoes maybe? Please remember that exploring abandoned places can be very dangerous not just for your health but also your shoes. Please take care when you’re exploring.

If you’d like to find out more about Burbex, why not check out Burbex on YouTube? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_nFYkcLFjn3IcyQTLy04Ig?sub_confirmation=1

Man of Steel – 2nd Island Steel Works – Grade A+

Looks like the Joker’s Lair in Tim Burton’s Batman

Everyone knows that when it comes to urban exploration, Burbex is a junkie, not one of those junkies that climbs on top of high rooftops and cranes for that electric meth buzz, more like an opium junkie that searches for a quiet corner to curl up in and hide from the world whilst chasing the dragon.

Don’t look into the abyss…

Burbex has trouble with living in North East China, the pace of life and the noise is just too much sometimes, and when he found this abandoned Steel Works on the edge of the city, he knew he had found his new opium den. 

Steel Works Spires

A myriad of spires pierce the gray sky from within the complex. Whereas others might follow such spires in search of cathedrals where they bow down and prostrate themselves before God, Burbex follows the spires in search of quietude, and this place does not disappoint.

Vertical angles

The complex itself is unusual in a number of ways, diagonal bridges and vertical chimnies dissect the landscape, but between the dissected spaces lay little reminders of the traditional, little humanities that show this place was once inhabited by tens of thousands of workers.

A Steel Fox Hides in the Industrial Undergrowth

Dormitories overlap with massive furnaces, kindergartens and basketball courts with the huge smelting domes. In this place there is no divide between the industial and the human, it is a defunct automaton from another age.

Off The Hook

Yet like the promise of opiates, which are at the same time comforting and threatening, there also is a strong sense of danger in the complex, the souls of long passed workers, shaking and banging the corrugated steel walls in warning ESCAPE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

The Tower

The Tower at the entrance to the smelting blocks stands dark and defiant, a monolith to a defunct religion. Burbex carefully climbed to the top to survey the whole site, each rusted stair a step of pilragmmage to the still faithful.

Coming Out of Their Shells

Coming to the end of his urbex opium high, Burbex felt comfortable in his own skin again and ready to face the world, such as it is, with a steely face and an iron constitution. 

If One Door Closes, Open A Window

By the way, if liked this post, why not check out the video exploration above and subscribe for more videos from Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration every week.

Japanese Playboy Mansion – Suicide Forest – Grade A+

Los Angeles to Tokyo Hareda only $645

Welcome to Mr. Matsumoto’s Playboy Mansion – I am Mr. Matsumoto, and while you’re here, I hope you will have a relaxing and enjoyable time. First of all, let’s get you a drink from our well-stocked kitchen.

Whiskey and soda perhaps? Always a favorite with our clients. Why not sit back and listen to some of our modern 1980’s tunes. We have both vinyl and 8-track.

One of the girls will be down shortly to keep you entertained, why not take a look at these great car models from 1983? Or if modern cars aren’t your thing, why not play some pachinko to pass the time.

Oh, here’s one of the girls right now, isn’t she lovely with her authentic blonde nylon hair. Such a typical Japanese beauty. What? You spilled your drink on your clothes. Don’t worry, you can borrow my sports jacket.

Don’t worry about a thing, everything is always so hurried in the modern world, just take your time and enjoy yourself. Once you’ve settled in, you’ll never want to leave!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the other great Suicide Forest post PORNO TRUCK STOP, and why not hop over to Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube for great urbex videos every week.

Burbex.org 3rd Birthday – A Look Back at The First Ever Post

Globehunters

This blog post was originally posted on June 30th, 2014.  Be sure to check out these other great blog posts –  Return to Capital Steel and Capital Steel Laboratory,

Capital Steel Works – Beijing – Grade A-  

Beijing Steel Works is a rare beast in the Urbex world. The site is in an almost vacuum state where it feels like all the workers just put down their tools one day and left. The machines have been left as if one turn someone will turn on the plant again.

Beijing Steel Works - Grade A -

The site is huge with more rust and corrupted cranes, pulleys, and conveyor belts that you could see in a week. The crane-like structures that you can see in the pictures apparently shifted unrefined steel to conveyor belts which stretch across the complex.

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The site is massive in scale and is punctuated by enormous machines, with pipes and cooling units galore. The urbex explorer must be very careful here as the overhead structures creak in the wind and bits regularly fall off.

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These metal dragons seemed to be used to scoop out the unrefined steel and shift it up onto the conveyor belts. They have big blunt teeth, and ugly faces.

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Train tracks also criss-cross the plant, there are plenty of abandoned trains, carriages, and miniature train stations to be found. Jump over the outer wall, avoid the security guards, follow the train tracks and in whichever direction you travel, you’ll find some Urbex treasures.

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This is a huge site, so be sure to take your time. Once you visit this place once, you’ll be addicted. If you ever want to pay a visit, just contact me on burbex@outlook.com, and I’ll show you around. Also be sure to check out Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube for great new videos every week.

 

 

 

FEELING GASSY – TIANBAO GAS WORKS – GRADE B-

If China was a human body and all the cities were organs, we could imagine that Beijing up at the top would be the brain, Shanghai would be the heart, which would probably make Kunming the reproductive organs. Where does Tieling in Liaoning fit into this metaphor?

It doesn’t! The dusty cancerous spleen was removed long ago, and it sits in a sealed jar of formaldehyde where it can be studied closely.

You know that Burbex is always on the look out for missing organs though, like when he found hearts and brains at the abandoned Catholic School. Tieling is a strange place, home to Zhao Benshan, one of China’s most famous comedians.

Additionally, it also has the worst economy of any city in the North East China rustbelt, and one of the highest divorce rates in the whole country. With those things in mind, Burbex was sure he was going to find some great abandoned buildings. Tieling did not disappoint.

The old Tianbao Gas Works has been locked up for decades. The walls outside are graffitied with accusations of corruption and government waste. Two armless manikins stand guard at the gates, their asbestos bones rattling in the dusty wind. This site is massive. Building after building of factory space.

Old office buildings have had their walls beaten and stripped of copper wires and anything of value, and the windows have been shattered by the pounding North East wind.

Everything is coated in the distinctive layer of North East dust,  a combination of industrial pollution and dust which piles in every year from as far away as the Gobi Desert and Mongolia.

There are some signs of comfort within the thrashed form of the gas works. Why not take a seat in this comfortable blue sofa. Don’t get too comfortable though, as the dust may swallow you whole.

It’s hard to believe that little more than two decades ago, Chinese government workers were still using these five inch floppy discs. It’s unlikely anyone born after 1999 even knows what these are.

Oddly, for all its pollution and sense of foreboding doom, the site is surprisingly verdant. Ivy which has evolved to feed off the soil pollution clings tight to the buildings.

Random city dwellers without any land of their own, sneak into the complex and plant their guerilla gardens, and later consume the mutated sunflower seeds and pumpkins.

All in all, Tian Bao Gas Works is one of the bleakest sites Burbex has ever visited, but it is a keen reminder of how life will try to hold on in even the most messed up of places, which is why it is being awarded a B- grade.

By the way, if you liked this post, why not subscribe to Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube and check out the other great videos about Tieling, like this haunted hotel…

Or this abandoned Muslim Graveyard…

 

NIGHTMARES – BRIGHT HORSE MALL – GRADE B+

I’m always looking around for new places to explore, but I never find them. How do you find these places anyway?

Constantly on the road scouting for new places to explore, Burbex is looking for a few key indicators that a building is empty. Once an urbexer knows a few of these indicators, the whole city lights up like a fairground. Bright Horse Furniture Mall is no exception. In this post, we’ll look at a few indicators.

The strongest indicator of abandonment is when construction seems to have come to a standstill. Guosen Mall hasn’t progressed since 2008, but Burbex has been keeping an eye on Bright Horse Mall for the last two years. Even though there was a recent delivery of new escalators, there hasn’t been any progress.

Burbex crept into the complex via the ramp at the rear of the building, which descends three levels into a flooded underground parking lots. Dark water has seeped in from beneath the cement floor, yet another strong sign of abandonment. Burbex kept expecting a drowned witch to rise up with her arms outstretched.

Disappointed at the lack of undead witches, Burbex climbed the internal fire escapes and cam out in the central atrium of the shopping mall. Escalators and elevators are everywhere, and even Burbex’s whispering footsteps echoed loudly in the huge space.

Another clue that a building is abandoned is the blue sheets that cover all machinery, keeping the piercing Beijing dust away from their internal mechanisms. The recently delivered escalators lurk like blue ghosts in the sprawling darkness.

Burbex eventually made his way up onto the rooftops, where the ambient light seeped through the vents and walkways, casting a purplish glow over the massive area. Purple stains like spilled iodine covered the rooftop, disinfecting the crumbling building’s wounded pride.

The half cylindrical dome that protects the mall from the elements glows a gentle blue, reflecting the light pollution. Outside the traffic sounds of the fourth ringroad echo all about, a keen reminder of both how close and far away civilisation still abounds.

The logo for the building reads 爱家商业大厦 or Love Home Trade Building. Burbex actually felt pretty estranged from his own family standing on a building in the near darkness trying to capture glimpses of emptiness. That specific feeling is always the strongest indicator a building is empty.

With the strong sense of abandonment and melancholia permeating Bright Horse Mall, Burbex awards the building with a solid B+. If ever you want to come along and discover your own hidden melancholia in the heart of a forgotten building, get in touch at burbex@outlook.com.

Also be sure to check out the new Burbex Beijing Urban Exploration channel on YouTube – all the same great locations as the blog but in full moving glory.

 

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.