Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Beijing: Underground City (北京地下城)

In a forgotten corner of old Beijing, where narrow alleys give way to even narrower doorways, a bunch of Malaysian tourists were led down a footpath amidst curious stares by the locals....

... through a cramped alley they went, past tiny windows, smelly drains and old women.....

and then straight down underground through a dimly lit tunnel where we were greeted by...

none other than Chairman Mao himself all dressed in white. ;)

Welcome to Beijing's Underground City. Built in the 1970's as a response to alarmists threats of an imminent Russian nuclear attack, this subterranean network of tunnels covers an area of 85 sq km and even has a tunnel that leads all the way to the city of TianJin 130km away!

Our English speaking guide was clad in a drab green army getup, and ably led us through a series of tunnels which led to rooms designated as a hospital, library and even a cinema. Most of the rooms however were either locked up or were barricaded, so we had to take her word for it.

Along the way, there was a stretch where pictures of American war planes were displayed...

...along with relics of soldiers' clothes, backpacks and equipments as well as debris of the planes which I assumed were shot down by the Chinese army....

This door led to Chairman Mao's secret hideout as well as secret getaway exit. No none knows where it leads to because, well, it was a secret.

And this was the lounge where one could take a rest after hours of shovelling and siphoning out flood waters from one of the thousands of miles of tunnels.

Someone left their handbag here? Ooh.. I think I hear the cellphone ringing.... Nice ringtone. ;)

And this is the local Tower Records listening station.... except the hits of the day were secret Russian radio transmission.... Moscow calling... Moscow calling....

As we got deeper into the tunnels, it was very damp, even flooding some parts and moss was growing on the walls and ceiling.

And right at end of our tour, was the lone airshaft, built to expel poisonous gases within the tunnels. Yes, just one teeny tiny hole in the ceiling.

"Y'all come back now, y'hear..."

1 comment:

exjack said...

Hi again, I have left you a comment on your current blog page - about the secret beijing underground city... if you could get in touch with me (I've included my emailaddress). P.M. Magazin/Munich would like to publish your images of the tunnels. We hope there you still have these images in a suffucient resolution 300 dpi for the publication. Thank you

alex