Category Archives: Weird & Wonderful

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

Japanese Playboy Mansion – Suicide Forest – Grade A+

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Porno Truck Stop – Japan Suicide Forest – Grade B+

Fly Los Angeles to Tokyo from just $645

Some facts about the Japanese are pretty well-known. It is known for example that the Japanese have an open love affair with pornography, which can be found in stores all around the country. It is further known that the Japanese are particularly fond of retro entertainment systems, and VHS was still popular into the early two thousands.

What is less known perhaps is that Aokigahara, better known as The Suicide Forest, which surrounds the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, is full of abandoned buildings, like hotel and houses, and in certain places whole villages can be found abandoned. All of these facts cross over in this abandoned truck stop Burbex discovered on the road which dissects the forest.

As well the obligatory cutesy toys left rotting on sideboards, and even a snowboard, which was presumably used on the snowy slopes of Mount Fuji…

Burbex also discovered cases full of VHS tapes of vintage pornography including classic titles like Final Outflow…

… Lady’s Body…

… and of course the legendary Anal Security Squad, banned in twenty countries.

What amuses Burbex is how the Japanese love of both pornography and cutesy, also know as kawayi, float right on the surface of Japanese culture and often crosses over and flows into every conceivable fetish.

That this truck stop is right on the edge of the notorious Suicide Forest is particularly telling, as while many foreigners, also known as gaijin, might be amused by these facets of Japanese society, there are many that rely on them to survive, and what happens when they can no longer hold on? Well, the forest is lovely dark and deep…

If you found this article interesting, why not check out Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration at the link above, where you can watch Brin exploring many of the old abandoned hotels and other buildings in and around The Suicide Forest.  Plus don’t forget to hit LIKE and SUBSCRIBE for 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…

 

HIDDEN IN THE HILLS – PLA HOSPITAL – GRADE A

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SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY – ETHNIC MINORITIES MALL – GRADE B+

What does it take to make an urbex site special?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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… 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”.

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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.

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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.

 

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SOLAR FLARES – 4TH RING ROAD OLYMPIC TORCH – GRADE A-

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Massive pipe support the heart of the furnace, and this is where the fuel would’ve been burned providing energy for the blasting process.

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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?

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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.

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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:

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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The Great Mall of China – Yanjiao – Grade A***

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