While I was on my travels in Beijing, I had a day between groups to explore the area. Unfortunately, we were not staying in the tourist area of Beijing. Instead, our hotel was right next to Beijing Capital Airport. As with many of the outskirt areas in China, the area around our hotel had fallen victim to the China’s rapid expansion.
So I could hop taxi to the tourist area and downtown for $40 or see if I could find something near the airport. Since acres of same-t-shirt-wearing Chinese tour groups didn’t interest me, I decided to check google maps to see if there were any attractions around the hotel. Surprisingly, there were two museums that caught my eye. The Beijing Civil Aviation Museum (http://www.caacmuseum.cn/)and the Chinese Cinema Museum (detailed in an upcoming post).
So, we hailed a cap and headed off to the first stop, the Civil Aviation Museum. I should have been tipped off to a problem when I cabbie hadn’t heard of the musem. However, after showing him the address from good, he said he could get us there. (Of course, cab drivers will always tell you they know where they are going even if they have no clue.)
About 15 minutes later we arrived at the address, a tree lined road with no buildings or facilities. So, we started driving around the area looking for someone who knew about the museum. We found a local hospital, more ruins of torn down houses and even found a CAAC department HQ.
Finally, in the midst of a demolition zone, we found a fruit vendor who pointed us in the right direction.
It turns out that Google and the official website had lied to me. The aviation museum either no longer exists. Or, more precisely it is in the middle of a remodeling. Instead of the website-promised acres of aircraft, I got this:
A few aircraft being slowly overgrown by weeds.
But, what awesome aircraft – an AN-2
and various civilian airliners.
The museum had the feel of a construction project that lost its funding, but if it ever is completed it looks like it’ll be great place.
Check out some of aircraft below
Desolate Beijing (the background you can the national bird of China the construction crane)