CHINA - The Chinese capital is no stranger to demolition work, having seen large parts of the ancient city pulled down to make way for modern needs and the 2008 Olympics.
It is strange though to see workers trying to take down a bizarre villa with its own fake mountain built illegally on top of a 26-storey apartment block near a busy road in Beijing's Haidian district.
Workers were seen last Thursday and Friday removing parts of a trellis at the villa, nicknamed Beijing's "most awesome illegal structure", local media reported.
No sign of the wrecking ball or building materials being moved out was seen when The Sunday Times dropped in last Friday afternoon. But sounds of drilling were heard coming from the roof, whose access doors were locked.
Nobody answered the door at unit 2605, home of rooftop villa owner Zhang Biqing, 58, a self-proclaimed doctor and former Anhui village boy who made his fortune in the 1990s selling slippers said to boost blood flow.
He had grudgingly agreed to demolish parts of the villa located in Park View estate, after a public outcry led the authorities to decree last Monday that he do so.
That the rocky outcrop, built on an area nearly as big as two basketball courts, could go unnoticed for years has beggared belief and underlined how China's well-connected can get away with almost anything.
"How can he just do whatever he likes?" asked Madam Liu, 60, a resident on the 24th floor who declined to give her full name.