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A Short Trip to Chernobyl and Pripyat

A Short Trip to Chernobyl and Pripyat

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Old Apr 19, 11, 7:36 pm
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A Short Trip to Chernobyl and Pripyat

In June of 2009 my travels brought me to Kiev, one of my favorite cities in the world. I had the opportunity to take a day tour to Chernobyl and Pripyat where I saw firsthand the devastation caused by the 1986 accident. There are very few TRs on Chernobyl so I thought I'd share my observations and photographs here.

The day began in Independence Square where the tour guide advised everyone to purchase bottled water from a nearby convenience store. I bought 2 bottles for less than a dollar each. There were 8 of us on the tour - I was by myself and there weren't any groups larger than 2. During the drive we were shown a documentary on the accident. It wasn't particularly interesting but it made the two hour drive go by pretty fast. As we distanced ourselves from Kiev the scenery turned from urban to rural - not many people want to live near Chernobyl. The sides of the road were lined with vehicles selling everything from food to furniture. Our driver stopped at a stall to buy berries.


Independence Square

Eventually we arrived at a gate patrolled by armed guards. The driver collected our passports and spoke to the guards for about five minutes. I could tell that they knew each other well (they probably see each other every day) and there wasn't really any chance that we would be asked to turn back.







Our first stop was a building situated a few miles from Chernobyl. We had to sign forms that basically stated that we wouldn't sue if we get cancer, grow a 3rd arm, glow in the dark, etc. as a result of our visit. After completing the necessary paperwork we were free to proceed.


The paperwork office


Possibly the longest agency name I've ever seen


This cat was very interested in the tourists. Notice the lack of a 2nd head, 3rd eye, 5th leg, etc.

We continued to drive through small towns while the guide offered information on the pre-explosion population of each. Several of the towns are still active to support the cleanup crews. There is even a small store selling food, vodka, cigarettes, more vodka, etc.


Store


Store


Store (Interior)


My purchase

Eventually we arrived at the actual power plant. All of the reactors were visible including those that were under construction in 1986 (and never completed).







We were allowed to exit the car and walk around. There was a small river filled with very fat fish. The legend is that radiation makes them big but their size is actually attributed to the tourists that feed them bread.


Bridge


Fish


Fish


Checking for radiation
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Old Apr 19, 11, 7:44 pm
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Our next stop was a small memorial near the water. There are many memorials in the vicinity of Chernobyl but we didn't get to visit all of them.





Then we passed the Pripyat sign...



And arrived at Reactor 4.








Another memorial

We continued to Pripyat and exited the car.


Railway located between Chernobyl and Pripyat









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Old Apr 19, 11, 7:48 pm
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You should have brought back a bottle of radiated vodka as a souvenir.

Thanks for the pics.
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Old Apr 19, 11, 7:53 pm
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We were then guided through some of the buildings. The general rules are don't touch anything and don't climb stairs because they can become unstable as the buildings start to crumble.


Hotel


Art


Stairs


Hotel reception area








My first glimpse of the iconic ferris wheel





This amusement park was scheduled to open a few days after the accident but sadly no one was ever able to enjoy it.















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Old Apr 19, 11, 7:58 pm
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The next stops were a school and more athletic facilities.







































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Old Apr 19, 11, 8:03 pm
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Thank you for your exelent photo report. Kiev is on my wish list yet.
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Old Apr 19, 11, 8:11 pm
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Finally we visited some apartment buildings.







At this point our Ukrainian soldier said something like "Don't climb the stairs. I'm going out for a cigarette. I'll be back in 15 minutes." We took this as a hint that it was okay to climb this particular building and check out the view. We couldn't get higher than the 4th or 5th floor because the stairs were missing.



Lunch was included in the tour so we stopped at a restaurant in one of the towns. I think it was in Chernobyl but I'm not certain. The lunch consisted of vegetables, meat, and borscht. I'm glad I bought that candy earlier!



It was time to leave so we drove back to the checkpoint. Everyone had to exit the car and go through a machine to check for radiation. Obviously I passed the test or I wouldn't be writing this!



Two hours (and a berry stop) later we were back in Kiev.

This was probably the most unique tour that I've ever experienced. I'm not really a tour guy - I prefer to explore at my own pace. However, this is one case where you have to be pretty brave to venture out on your own. I believe it is possible for individuals to get permission to enter by themselves but I can imagine that the paperwork involved would be repulsive.

I wasn't born in 1986 so I don't remember Chernobyl. In history class it seemed so distant that I couldn't imagine what happened without seeing the aftermath with my own eyes. I'm writing this today because the events in Japan have made me think back to this experience and wonder what Japan's future will look like. I certainly wish those living near Fukushima a speedy recovery and hope that their home won't become a deserted site like Chernobyl.
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Old Apr 19, 11, 8:13 pm
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Those are some big fish EEEEEK!!!
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Old Apr 19, 11, 8:18 pm
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Here are a few random Kiev photos:




T.G.I. Friday's!






Guy On Horse - a fixture in every major city



























Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this report.
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Old Apr 19, 11, 9:17 pm
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Awesome pictorial report. What an interesting place to visit, somewhere I'd cetainly like to see one day.
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Old Apr 19, 11, 10:40 pm
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What an amazing experience - thank you for sharing!
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Old Apr 19, 11, 10:48 pm
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That was an excellent report!! I was 25 in 1986 and remember it well, all the worry over the radiation cloud and things like that...sheep in Wales glowing in the dark...well no, that didn't happen but we worried about it.

Odd to see it now...
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Old Apr 20, 11, 5:13 am
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Very unique, very interesting - many thanks for sharing.

What's more worrying is that I recognise the amusement park and ferris wheel from playing CoD:MF !!
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Old Apr 20, 11, 5:44 am
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Very moving - especially the kids playground. It's as if an entire town has been frozen in time. Thanks for posting all of these.

Originally Posted by BryanIAH View Post

This cat was very interested in the tourists. Notice the lack of a 2nd head, 3rd eye, 5th leg, etc.
True, but he does have a leg growing out of his stomach. Watch yourself
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Old Apr 20, 11, 6:40 am
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Wow, what a unique and very interesting report, everything looks very sad indeed. I'm amazed that you were able to get so close to the reactor.

I was alive in 1986 but I wasn't old enough to remember anything on the news, however the images that played over and over afterwards are chilling. The sight of the reactor would have me running a mile away!

Last edited by matthandy; Apr 20, 11 at 6:45 am
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