I dabbled in UrbEx in a few other cities, but yesterday in Shanghai, China, I was invited to go all the way!
UrbEx is short for Urban Exploration. That’s the only constant. What it is can differ from person to person. It usually means a person or people that go into places that have been abandoned or left unguarded. That can mean anything from shipyards, to subterranean catacombs. Some people take pictures and videos, some people only take away stories to tell.
When my friend Gritty pulled me aside last week to tell me about a place he’d discovered, I knew it’d get interesting. Gritty lives a very, very active life and isn’t afraid to go to extremes. He told me about a recently closed, and abandoned hotel in Shanghai that he wanted to explore. We walked up and down several flights of stairs searching for unlocked rooms and places to explore. Fortunately, the electricity hadn’t been turned off yet, and the best discovery was on the roof! The doorway to the top was unlocked and we found ourselves outside overlooking the city with the huge, iron-framed hotel marquee in front of us. Looking out past the safety bars gave me a new respect for heights, and I definitely felt the familiar rush I get when I do something new and exciting!
By the way, “The Shanghai Hotel” is just the way I refer to this place. It’s not the actual name of the hotel.
No Breaks & No Takes!
~If you are caught doing anything, you should be able to honestly say “I was just looking around.”
~If there is a lock, don’t tamper with it.
~Don’t take anything you didn’t bring, and take anything you brought in back out with you!
Avoid people you didn’t come with at all costs.
~UrbEx doesn’t just attract Adventurers like me. It also attracts the homeless. A place that I see as an outdoor adventure through the modern-day ruins of our rapidly expanding, building, and destroying civilization, may be someone’s home. I respect everyone’s home. If anyone else is there, I just leave. No arguments or confrontations at all. I always pack a few bottles of water and granola bars. Not just for me, but as a peace-offering to any homeless people I stumble across. I just sit a few on the ground as I back away slowly and get out.
~Avoid security guards at all cost. If I can’t, I just leave.
Plan for something to go wrong.
~ Go with a friend you trust.
~I always tell someone where I am going and how long I will be there. Then I make sure I am back on time. No matter how much fun I am having. I always check-in with the person in charge of calling the cops and possibly an ambulance if I am not out on time. Even if all I do is call to say that I am going back in for another hour. Lots of UrbEx takes place in areas with poor reception, meaning no texts, calls, or GPS. I’ve seen places so deep that compasses won’t work.
~Plan for “bad air”. If you go in someplace with old, closed rooms the air is stagnant and dusty. Some UrbExers often take air filters or full breathing masks.
Be careful who you tell, locations are sacred!
~Once you post a location online, it has the potential to be overrun.
~If too many people go there and aren’t mindful of how to be discrete and respectful it will lead to unwanted attention. That’s bad for the entire UrbEx community. We promote ethical trespassing. That means leaving things as you found them and not attracting attention.
~Everyone loves to share a good thing, but when people who haven’t done any research into how to do it themselves, and have not researched protocols and precautions are just setting themselves up for failure. Besides, no one values an adventure they didn’t have to invest any time into!
YusefWateef (at) Gmail (dot) Com
The biggest and best UrbEx in China was Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov sneaking into, and climbing the 650 Meter Pearl Tower!
Other UrbEx resources I use and enjoy: