A few weeks ago, an intriguing write-up in Time Out magazine caught my eye. It appeared to be a castle in countryside Beijing. Castles are definitely not a common theme around here, so we decided to investigate further. The land for 沃德兰 (wo-de-lan) amusement park was purchased back in 1998 and it was supposed to become Asia’s largest amusement park. As land prices increased with the upcoming Olympics and pressure mounted from pre-existing parks, the project was abandoned and only the skeleton of the park exists today.
Andy, Michelle, Zac and I hired a Beijing cabbie for the day. At first he seemed pretty cool, but he started to have a bit of a stress attack as we got further out of the city. We’d printed off Baidu and Google maps and we assured him that we knew where we were going, which changed to “oh, we’ve been there before – don’t worry”. This, of course, is only a problem if the maps are wrong. Guess what??
We ended up in a massive queue of trucks down a horrible under-construction-‘road’ when we realised there was no way we were in the right place. Breaking the news to cabbie that we were in the wrong place didn’t go down so well, until we offered some more cash – then we were set.
So, we started asking the locals questions. Asking people who’ve grown up with an abandoned amusement park around them, doesn’t translate so well. Most people just said there weren’t any amusement parks around. Finally, Andy noticed some castle-esque points in the distance. We made our way back to the freeway and found the correct exit this time.
We approached the blue turrets from the side, stationary flags atop. We found ourselves in a massive field with an eerie cement tower and the frame of a gigantic pavilion.
The staircase to nowhere.
At least someone is making use of it.
“Strictly no entry into the tower. Enter at your own risk.”
The gardening ladies employed to keep the front looking respectable.
I feel that the above photo sums up China beautifully. Andy wandered into an open door and met a bunch of old women playing cards in the dim light. After shouting at him that he shouldn’t be there they slowly drifted out and began their gardening duties. I suspect just because we were there. The front hedges and the carpark are maintained beautifully. It’s all about appearances.
Relics of the previous construction work.
(Have a look at my photos from a fake disneyland in Beijing)