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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Escalators and more escalators later lead to doors which lead nowehere. Rather than the Chinese Dream this is more like Escher’s Nightmare.
There are huge areas of beautifully designed office space, but as is often so true with Chinese sites it is all surface…
… and no depth.
Everything rots, rusts, and decays into a slimy green mess distorting the reflections of the sky.
Cavities and holes in the architecture look strangely sexual. What would Freud have to say about our Great Mall dream, Burbex pondered.
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.
Broken down fans and air conditioners offered no respite from the sweltering heat as Burbex explored the rooftops further.
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.
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***.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or simply leave a comment below, and we’ll see if we can make your China Dream come true.