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.
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.
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.
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.
You may remember in the last post Burbex was nursing a midlife crisis. What better way is there to find a new identity than exploring the frozen bowels of abandoned Changchun bathhouse? Unlike mushroom trips at The PLA Hospital or spending time with the disembodied residents at The Catholic School, Burbex wasn’t sure if he was going to reemerge this time.
The Changchun Bathhouse had seen thousands of weddings over the past two decades, but not unlike Mrs. Haversham’s wedding in Great Expectations, the wedding scenes have been left to rot, and the groom is nowhere to be seen.
Burbex had not been invited to the wedding party though. Despite the grandiose decor and luxurious rooms, he was heading straight for the basement, where the upper crust of Changchun society used to bath away their filthy richness.
Penetrating the lower levels of the bathhouse, everything was caked in darkness, only glimmers and glints from the spectacular chandeliers stood out in the dark, slowly swaying from unfelt gusts of spirit movement.
A word of warning before he entered the subterranean world. “Leave your clothes here and don’t forget to lock up your valuables.” The gaping mouths of the rotten lockers suggested, “We’re not responsible for anything you lose tonight… especially not your life!”
Burbex followed a streaking trail of red light beyond the changing room. Already in the icy depths of the bathhouse, he could feel the metamorphosis about to begin. Electricity crackled around him, drawing him to the fire pit.
A great spark of light, and the fire took it corporeal form. When the fire was brightest, only then could the spectres who became viscous in the thick darkness which hides in hidden corridors and secret corners be called upon.
Burbex uttered the soundless vowels of their tongue, and with promises of blood, he drew forth a spectre which bathed in the light of the fire. It tapped its feet and drummed it’s fingers, working up the gusto for a dance.
The barely visible spectre emerged fully and danced his long forgotten dance:
Follow the balls of fire to the mirror,
where our two worlds are riven,
there within the mirrored cage,
unto you a new life shall be given
The heavenly orbs appeared as promised and lit the way for Burbex to follow. Six mirrors to other worlds before him stood, dark tendrils emanated from five, but one glowed a lustful red, drawing Burbex towards it, to touch it, and move through it.
Burbex stepped through into the mirror room where a thousand reflected identities had been stored. Burbex snatched at the first new identity, which grew furnace hot and glowed proudly within his chest.
What identity Burbex grabbed out of that place or whether he’ll make it out of that mirrored cell, we’ll never know, but if you are ever looking to rediscover yourself, send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe he can take you to the other side too.
Putting these elements altogether in one site and discovering it unexpectedly in Changchun is going to make Burbex a very happy camper.
North East China is better known as the rust-belt of China, rusting factories and failed malls, but Burbex knows a few oases of green in his Chinese birthplace Changchun, namely the forest surrounding Jingyue Reservoir.
The reservoir is massive and attracts tonnes of tourists, each coughing up thirty yuan to enter the National Forest Park. Burbex hadn’t been there for more than ten years, but he still remembered the hole in the fence where entry was free of charge.
Once in the park, Burbex made a beeline to the edge of the lake, and searched for the tumbledown fairytale huts hidden in the forest where he’d sunbathed butt naked a decade before.
Unfortunately the huts and his memories had been absorbed into the forest floor, so he went looking for new secrets. After hiking about twenty kilometres around the reservoir with it’s million and one twists and turns. Burbex found what he didn’t even know he was looking for, an abandoned ski slope, ski lift, and ski lodge hidden in the forest.
At the base of the ski slope, stood the old building where broken ski mobiles, and ski equipment had been left forgotten. It also served as a storage area for some of the equipment from the new ski slope right next door to it.
A sign indicated that the ski-mobiles cost 200RMB for a 15 minute ride. Burbex didn’t think these broken down ski cats were going to be kicking up snow again any time soon.
Hundreds of pairs of skis lined the walls from the Russian ski competition which had been held there the previous year, but the condition of these skis were going downhill fast.
Everything in the building at the bottom of the slope was either breaking, about to break, or broken. Burbex has a mortal fear of breaking bones, and so made a hasty retreat.
Getting outside again, Burbex started to tramp up the extremely soggy ski slope, his already soaked trainers sinking into the soaked grass.
He even climbed a few pylons for a better view. When an iron rung snapped off under his foot, Burbex thought it better to get back to the soggy ground.
Each of the seats hung from the ski lift like overripe rusting fruit. Strangely, each was covered in a thick layer of grease, which Burbex suspected protected them from the harsh North Eastern winter.
Eventually tramping right to the top of the slope, Burbex found the Austrian-made Doppelmayr mechanism for the ski lift. Burbex tried to climb in through the bottom of the mechanism, but he fell and ended up covered in more grease than an Austrian sausage.
Still, Burbex was rewarded by a fantastic view of the reservoir from the top of the ski slope. The next step though, was to find the upper ski lodge.
Looking like a set out of a James Bond movie, the ski lodge was hidden in the thickest part of theforest. It’s deep red paint was flaking and peeling, but the design of the building was very appealing.
Red and white staircases curved round the building to the upper floors. Burbex was determined to get into this building, but it was locked down tight.
There were no open windows, no unlocked doors. Even when Burbex climbed on the roof, he found ever entry point locked down hard. Burbex doesn’t like giving up though.
Using a banner he’d found in the forest which read DON’T SMOKE IN THE WOODS, Burbex fashioned a rope, tied it to a rock and threw it up onto a balcony. Straining and pulling, Burbex pulled himself to the top, but then…
…disaster. The railing on the balcony broke, and Burbex was left treading on air, like Wylie Coyote in those Loony Toons cartoons where he hasn’t realised he’s fallen off a cliff.
At this point, his muscles aching and feeling defeated, Burbex called it a day and marched off home through the forest, vowing he would be back to defeat the beast. You can check out that diasterous tale in the video below:
By the way, if you want to come along with Burbex on a trip, be sure to drop him a line at email@example.com. If you are thinking about coming to Jingyue Park, be sure to bring rain boots and and a beekeeps mask.
Also be sure to follow Burbex at all your favourite social media sites.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posters on the walls boasted that the centre cost one billion yuan to build…
… 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”.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll be happy to show you around.
Also be sure to follow Burbex at all your favourite social media sites.
What does it mean to feel nostalgic about an abandoned place?
It has been almost two years since Burbex posted one of his first explorations, Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park. As one of his favorites sites, he feels a kind of nostalgia about the place. Burbex never visited the place when it was open, but a few Chinese friends have mentioned they loved it when they were children.
Nostalgia is all about the past though and Burbex is keen to move into new and exciting projects. Burbex is now proud to present the new Burbex Youtube Channel, whose first episode features a return to Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park climbing up the park’s iconic Ferris Wheel. You can open the video above.
Burbex first explores the super spooky ghost house, the aquarium, the duck boat yards, the planetarium, and then finally moves through to climb one of the arms of the sixty-four metre tall Ferris Wheel. Fans who have been visiting the website for a while will know that Burbex is not so great with heights.
For die hard fans of the website, don’t worry, Burbex is still going to be out there sneaking into places and stealing shots of the best urbex sites that Beijing has to offer. 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:
Burbex wants to thank everyone for the fantastic support over the last two years, and he hopes that with your further help and encouragement, Burbex can keep on making strides in urban exploration. Be sure to check out the original report below, and Burbex can’t wait to see your comments and suggestions.
As the sun started to sink into the smoggy horizon, Jude and Burbex finally edged towards their final destination. The turrets and steeples of the gigantic hotel stabbed at the evening sky, beckoning the explorers. One thing was for sure, after the spooky American Beauty and super kitcsh Transvestite Theme Park, the hotel surely had something in great in store.
To get into the grounds of the hotel itself, Jude and Burbex had to cross though a soggy marshland upon which enormous villas seemed to be sinking into the earth. Lakes and water features has long since overflowed and the cellars and basements were entirely flooded with fetid marsh water.
Lusty frogs croaked at the dusky sky, snapping dragonflies and mosquitoes out of the thick air. From the outside many of these villas glowed with terracotta tones lit up by the sinking sun, but close up the paint was peeling and the plaster crumbling from the walls.
Marsh water and humidity had soaked the plaster and pushed the tiles off the fine front entrances, and sneaky trees grew up between the cracks further bringing the houses down.
The crumbling staircase led into probably the largest structure in the area, a huge waterside mansion soaking its feet in the marshes.
Down in the basement were facilities for spas and swimming pools, but now the only residents taking advantage were the toads and newts.
The unfinished hot tub hidden in the deepest level of the basement reminded Burbex of the mud monster in the classic Japanese animation Spirited Away.
Jude and Burbex did not run into any monsters in need of a good wash down this early in the evening. Perhaps they would emerge later in the night.
Moving up on to the ground floor the intrepid duo found some pots, lots and lots of pots. Not salt pots, not Pepper Potts (Iron Man’s girlfriend) but loads of huge terracotta pots. Burbex was stumped as to what they were used for.
The pots blocked doorways and staircases, meaning that Burbex had to climb up the outside of the house to get to the second floor.
From the balcony, Burbex could see the sun gradually setting into the Hebei swamp.
From here the hotel looked so close Burbex could almost touch it. Legging it through the marsh, Nike Air Max full of stinky pond water squelching with each stride, Burbex finally made it to the hotel.
The two massive wings of the hotel and the grounds around them were completely empty and unkempt.
The two wings of the hotel surrounded a massive ice rink which had definitely seen better days. The main part of the hotel showed a few signs of life, so Burbex nipped in for a quick cup of tea.
Inside the hotel was luxurious to say the least. In the completely empty main lobby, realtors stood around leisurely trying to sell the American Dream to the guests. They were obviously having trouble making sales.
In the front court of the hotel, luxury cars were parked, trunks full of golf equipment for the nearby golf courses.
Strangely Burbex felt optimistic about the future of Jinjing New Town. Massive ghost town like this may be empty now, but Burbex is sure that with great attractions like The Transvestite Theme Park and spa facilities for the undead residents, this town is going to take off soon.
If you would like to visit this site or any of the other great sites like The Solana Hotel, or watery paradises like The Great Mall of China, be sure to get in touch with Burbex at email@example.com and set up a time to meet. Just be sure to bring your monster shampoo.
Burbex loves to read your comments and suggestions, so leave a message at the bottom of the page, or follow Burbex on Facebook and Twitter.
In the first part about Jingjin New Town we took a look at an entire city that doesn’t seem to have lived up to anyone’s dreams yet, except for Freddy Kruger who probably stalks the Americana suburbia at night. Leaving the fake suburbs though, there seemed to be a fairy tale castle on the horizon, but what’s this? First Burbex and Jude had to pass through an abandoned amusement park – Scooby Doo anyone?
The gate to the place reads “Emperor’s View Hotspring and Ski Slope” – peaking over the red wall Burbex was disappointed by a distinct lack of a ski slope, but there were the occasional shouts of Chinese joy from the nearby hotspings. Burbex was determined to make a detour around any spot where beached Chinese men were soaking their bunions.
Fortunately there was plenty more to see in the park. An abandoned swimming pool, always one of Jude’s favorites, glowed a gentle green with the buildup of algae probably mutating in the toxic smog of the day.
The main feature of the park was a lake with a fake volcano in the middle of it. Climbing into the crater of the volcano, Burbex found decrepit red lights and smoke machines, presumably acting as a backdrop for the dance stage in front. How many sacrifices did they make to their heathen gods, Burbex wondered.
The lake was of course surrounded by all kinds of demi-gods, all present to show their respect to the volcano god. Below we can see the god of weird-looking clowns. His dark eyes looked a bit lonely, maybe he would have been happier at Floating Dragon Lake Amusement Park. That place always managed to cheer up Burbex.
Aside from the more typical demigods, there was the minor deity of Transvestite Pirate Queen, she may not have been so popular back then, but she’s coming out in a big way now – ha ha!
Of course wherever the Trannie Pirate Queen goes, so too do her wild animal pals, “Dirty Nelly the Elephant”…
and fearsome “Old One-Eye the Lioness”
Various marine-themed slides and chutes also empty out into the vacant swimming pool. It is hard to imagine anyone ever having played in the place, but then beyond the poolside, things got a little more lively.
A ride called “Drag Fusion” must have been inspired by the Trannie Pirate Queen…
and this distinctly sketchy ride reminded Burbex of his childhood fear of the chains breaking and hurtling into the distance to a slow and bloody demise.
What can be more comforting in the early afternoon than a quick ride on the carousel? Which horse do you think Burbex would choose?
None other that Old Red sporting a mohawk that even BA Baracus would be proud of. By the way, Burbex doesn’t usually wear mascara – only when visiting trannie theme parks.
Of course, young people these days don’t appreciate simple pleasures like riding an artificial horse going round in a circle, they want dune buggies with flat tyres…
and everyone’s favorite, The Bumper Cars. While Burbex is a big fan of abandoned theme parks, by the end of the visit he was left feeling a little…
Just click the buttons on the left to follow Burbex on Twitter and Facebook for new great sites every week. Plus if you are interested in coming along, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – just don’t forget your mascara.
Does it conjure up images of Wild West one horse towns, tumble weeds rolling through the dusty streets, the doors swinging on the nearby saloon, the pianola playing haunting tunes under ghostly fingertips?
Now, take that image and throw it away. China is now the world leader in ghost towns, and they are nothing like anything you can imagine. Maverick urbexer Jude pestered Burbex to go on a roadtrip to the dusty suburbs of Tianjin to check out a new city called Jingjin New Town.
You may remember that Burbex is no stranger to Tianjin having explored the ghostly Tianjin Chest Hospital earlier in the year. This was a completely different kind of project altogether though. As Burbex and Jude left the uncommonly blue skies of Beijing and went across the border into Hebei, the smog got thicker and thicker.
From the end of the Tianjin subway line, a minibus arrived just in time to take us the fifty kilometres to Jingjin New Town. Neither Burbex nor Jude knew what they were looking for, but as they travelled further the already toxic smog closed in further almost blocking the view altogether.
Finally, poking through the smog clouds the peaks of some of the faux-ancient buildings could be seen. Enormous constructions were everywhere stretching as far as the eye could see (which wasn’t actually that far in the smog). Burbex and co. jumped off at one of the many entrances, and went into a packed internet bar for refreshments.
No wonder the complex was empty, Burbex thought as he looked at the packed net bar (note the girl picking her nose up front). This was probably the premier entertainment venue in the whole city.
The first part of the complex that the duo investigated were the tower blocks, which while in a quite lovely neighbourhood, were for the most part completely empty. A local resident said that it was common for families to buy apartments here so they could gain urban household registration for their children, meaning they have certain advantages in examinations. At the same time they could still retain their rural registrations which has other benefits.
Sneaking up the roof of these near-empty buildings was a cinch. Out of the smog mirage, beyond the luxury villas and faux-americana villas, there seemed to be a palace calling to the explorers.
The apartment blocks were divided from the villas by a scuzzy filth infested ditch which the explorers chose to circumnavigate. Taking the long way round the urbexers finally found their way into a parallel universe. Americana never looked so good. Burbex was just waiting for Freddy Kruger to appear and tear this dream to shreds.
Somewhat like the The Olympic Homko Ghost Town in Beijing, the houses are beautifully designed and are obviously intended for commuters, since most of them have adjoining garages and outdoor parking.
The houses are all very similar and just go on for ever and ever as the map below suggests. This was just one small section of a suburban area that stretches as far as the eye can see.
Of course, Freddy Kruger was not required to know that this place was not some beautiful dream. Many of the buildings are completely empty and falling down.
The ones beside the river are in slightly better condition, but this is only because they have been squatted by the country bumpkin contingent of security guards, migrant workers, and janitors who run the place.
The security guards seemed very concerned when they saw the duo taking photos and ushered them away. When asked how many of these places were occupied the security guard replied about ninety percent. This was obviously bullshit as not a soul could be seen on this winter day.
Pushing further into suburbia the villas grew larger and more glorious until they suddenly transform into full-on mansions basking by marshy lakes. The irony of these mansions is that they are even more dilapidated than the smaller ones.
Built on marsh lands, the mansions are prone to flooding, and most of the ones observed were impassable on the ground and basement floors. This simply meant that Burbex and Jude had a fair amount of climbing to do to get into the upper floors.
But once onto the rooftops and the view of the sun slowly setting through the smog over the rest of the mansions was well-worth the visit. Burbex and Jude thought that they had already seen the best of what Jingjin New Town had to offer, but there was still a great deal left for them to discover.
Hot on the heels of his success getting into the The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, Burbex was determined to find more Olympic sites from 2008. With a kind reference from a friend and with an excellent entry in Wikipedia on the subject, Burbex was easily able to find The Olympic Kayaking Course.
Located a million miles from anything outside the sixth ring-road not far from the airport, Shunyi has definitely seen better days since the Olympics were held here eight years ago. To its credit, the Olympic Kayaking Park does still attract some visitors and the boating and wake boarding facilities are pretty decent. Burbex doesn’t care about decent though, where’s the abandoned stuff?
It is extremely easy to get over the fence and actually into the dried up kayaking course. According to Wikipedia, even by Olympic standards, this was once a very challenging course, but now Burbex ran through it with no problems at all. The funny thing about his course is how underwhelming it seems without the water.
Within the dried up riverbed small rocks are scattered around, that’s in spite of the big sign that says don’t throw rocks.
Only the occasional signs remind you that this was once an Olympic site. Burbex had also seen these yellow signs at The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, but there were a few more here in multiple languages, like this one keeping out French giants…
Or this one for German women with holes in their stomachs…
But the winner by a mile has to be the Doping Station sign. Burbex was wondering where the dope was hidden. The smog was getting thicker and he needed a pick-me-up.
Of course, everyone’s favourite Olympic mascots put in an appearance covering a rickety scaffolding bridge swarming with bees. You might remember Beibei from The Olympic Volleyball Stadium or Jingjing from The Olympic Mascot Mall. They looked pretty rough before, but now they are plumbing new depths.
Bridges crisscross the course connecting grassy islands where spectators would have been sitting.
Plus massive conveyor belts feature in the course which would have lifted the kayaks from the bottom of the course next to main lake…
To the top.
Burbex investigated underneath the conveyor belts and found some powerful looking mechanisms.
The course features various flood gates to control the flow and direction of the course.
But again, like Beibei’s Bridge, each was swarming with angry bees.
Enormous pumps also controlled how much water was let into the course and presumably how fast.
Clambering out of the course and onto the outside banks of the course, there are some coastguard boats left to rot. While Burbex is usually known for his cat burglar-like skills, piracy was a new avenue as he climbed aboard.
It looked to Burbex as though the SS Chairman Mao had been in a head on collision.
One other strange boat contraption stood nearby, like a boat with a conveyor on it. Burbex suspected this was used in emergencies to put kayaks out of the water. Now it was just rescuing a whole lot of weeds growing up the belt.
One final treasure was hidden in the trees as Burbex left, a countdown clock which had long since counted past the days minutes and hours to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It seemed an appropriate farewell as Burbex waved goodbye.
Despite being drained out and dried up, the Olympic Kayak Course is in much better shape than its sandy cousin The Olympic Volleyball Stadium, but without the kayaks, white water rapids, and the cheering crowds up on the bridges, the course felt pretty sad. That being said Burbex still awards The Olympic Kayak Course a B- grade.
If you would like to come and dip your toes into urban exploration in Beijing, or just want to stick in your oar and see what it’s all about, be sure to send an email to email@example.com, and you’ll be more than welcome to come along. Don’t forget your life jacket!