Tag Archives: urbex

Kitsch Zoo – The Great Wall Hotel – Grade B

Are you havin’ a giraffe?

Urban exploration – better known as urbex – is highly seasonal. In the spring, Burbex receives dozens of emails from all over world from French students to Texan photographers wanting to see abandoned Disneyesque castles on the outskirts of Beijing and hidden radar bases deep in the Northeast.

Hungry hungry hippos

Winter though? That’s the dead season, when urbexers hang up their dark hoodies and flashlights, and go into hibernation.

Bridge frozen in time

The same doesn’t apply for Burbex, who doesn’t cut back as the mercury drops, but finds smaller expeditions, closer to essential amenities like central heating and hot coffee. Mini expeditions to locations like the kitschy gardens behind The Great Wall Hotel are an ideal way to while away a couple of urbex hours, enjoying the surreal abandoned restaurant, where nameless statues of Chinese fairies carry plates of peaches, as well as apparently the occasional cash donation.

Dragons swim in concrete

It is easy to forget, but the Great Wall Hotel is something of an oddity. When it was built 34 years ago, it was one of the very first luxury hotels in the capital, and even with the newer Bvlgari and Westin hotels nearby, the Great Wall Hotel somehow holds its ground.

Panda gets high on his own supply

Its rooms are a little shabby compared to when the hotel was renovated by Italian designers in 2006, covering every conceivable surface in mirrors, but it still holds considerable nostalgia value.

Go through the main restaurant area, past the spit-polished brass antelopes and tigers prowling among the businessmen and out into the gardens behind the hotel.

A great place for reflection

Jump into the arid lake bed, blue paint peeling off the sides, and go off in search of the kitschy animals hidden in the undergrowth. A hippo with a pearl in its mouth, a shaky-looking giraffe, a panda high on bamboo leaf.

Under the bridge amongst the fake mountains and rocky outcrops, two stunning dragons flow through the concrete. Follow the paths to the very back where the garden copies The Great Wall itself, an outpost overgrown with blackened ivy now acts as a massive pigeon coop. Circling back to the main water feature, the old octagonal beer pagoda can be found, its glass sides cracked and roof sagging with age.

The not-so-great wall

The garden behind The Great Wall Hotel is a reminder. In Beijing seasons may come and go, the city may develop at breathtaking speed, but even in the darkness of winter, there will always be a few corners of the city where time stands still.

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

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2008 Beijing Olympic Village – Grade A+

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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.

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

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Japanese Playboy Mansion – Suicide Forest – Grade A+

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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.