Chernobyl, Day 1 – the beginning
We were picked up from Kiev and driven out to Chernobyl early on a Monday morning in May. Murdoch80, myself and another friend from Melbourne, Shane. We were met at the first check point by our tour guide, had our passports checked, and drove on to the hotel where we left our luggage in our well-sized rooms.
Then it was on to Pripyat. By the time we arrived, we had passed through three check points. There is no problem getting in if you have been given permission from the Ukrainian government, or have booked a tour through a legit travel agency (as we did).
Our guide gave us some unfortunate news – as of four weeks prior, noone was allowed inside the buildings. We were pretty shocked, and disappointed… it would have been nice if they’d told us that before we came all the way, as taking photos of the outsides of the buildings wasn’t really what we were there for, and our three-day tour was fairly pricey.
We decided to play it by ear for awhile and then maybe try out our excellent persuasion skills a bit later.
The first building we stopped at (I can’t remember what it was) had two little puppies in a kennel out the front. I thought they’d be shy and wary and but they bounded over the us and wove around our ankles like cats. Cute! We resisted the urge to hide them in our bags. Our guide told us the Pripyat workers feed them.
As we weren’t allowed to look through the building, we moved on to the next building, close by. This was a factory that had claimed to be manufacturing radios or something innocuous like that. What were they really manufacturing?
Electronic components for nuclear warheads.
Our guide told us it was too dangerous to go into the buildings, but also not to wander too far down the path outside because there were sometimes wolves roaming about, and tourists have been attacked before so, frustratingly, we could only take a few photos near the entrance to the building. There were a few toys scattered here and there, and bits of electronic components, old telephones, someones uniform jacket left behind.
Shane disappeared while Murdoch and I were photographing the bits of toys, and after awhile we realised he had snuck off into one of the buildings. Our guide came by and asked us where he was. It was obviously he’d gone into the building, despite being clearly told not to. Oooh shit, we didn’t want to push our luck! Our guide didn’t really say anything about it though, just reiterated that we couldn’t go inside.
Our next stop was the pool/gym complex. Those of you who have looked at photos of Pripyat online will probably recognise the pool. But we couldn’t see it, because we weren’t allowed in the building! There wasn’t much to see from the outside, as the pool is on the second floor and the building was surrounded by trees. The clock on the top of the building read 1:24, the exact time that the explosion occurred in 1986, but after looking at other peoples’ pictures since coming back from Pripyat, I’ve realised that the time has changed on at least several occasions, so someone obviously got up there and changed it to 1:24.
Our guide and driver took us to the “Bridge of Death”, where people stood watching the colourful flames of the burning nuclear core straight after the explosion of Reactor 4 occurred. All of them were dead 24 hours later, exposed to fatal doses of radiation which had blown onto the bridge.
It was surreal seeing the reactor in person, encased in it’s disintegrating sarcophagus. It’s strange to think that the cause of so much death and destruction is enclosed in that box.
Also seen here are Reactors 5 & 6; construction of these had not even been finished, and they remain in their semi-completed state to this day.
After that, it was time for lunch. Lunch was held in the big dining hall that the workers also use. We had a number of dishes prepared for us, and it was all pretty tasty (chicken coated in fried egg is a bit weird though). The soup was delicious, as were the extremely-garlicky garlic rolls, and everything had a tonne of oil on/in it (mmm). There was even dessert. They sure know how to feed people.
x Kitten of Doom