Chernobyl August 2010 Part 1
It was my first time in Kiev, greeted by a couple of Ukrainians who didnt speak much english, the trip had started. Its a vast city and there is such a contrast as soon as you get outside it, the big BMW's almost suddenly turn into Lada's and horses and carts.
The whole trip was discussed and booked over the phone and we needed visa's and documents but I hadnt actually seen them so pulling up to the first checkpoint and being greeted by the armed guard and his massive alsation was a little on the scarey side. The documents seemed to be in order though and we were on our way! The roads after the checkpoint went from, well roads to uneven concrete where the potholes took up the whole road in places, our sedan didnt seem up to the task but we managed to get to the town in one piece.
Chernobyl, the name given to the power station was actually a small villiage approximately 10km from the plant, its now the home to the workers that are still active around the area as well as scientists and tour guides.
The town has a military feel to it, combat attire is the unofficial uniform, our "hotel" was a prefab building which was simple but would be home for the next few days. Outside the main centre, there were rows and rows of cottages which were hidden from view, swallowed up by trees and plants looked much more rural but the wooden frames which would have once been bright and colourful are now cracked and faded.
Military Vehicles and Ship Graveyard
The first day and the realisation that I was waking up in Chernobyl which was very surreal
We started out with few locations near to the town, firstly an old football field which is now home to a few old military vehicles, these were set on concrete plinths with small yellow triangles with radioactive signs painted on them. I went out taking photos at night here which I have since found out was strictly forbidden. At night the town was dark, there arent that many street lights or light polution so you are faced with the pitch black along with a heavy silence which is occasionally broken by the calls echoing from the surrounding wildlife.
After the military vehicles, we drove to the Pripyat river, the river used to be the main transport link and it quickly go contaminated after the accident. The ships are beached on the shore and rusting away.
The journey continued out of Chernobuyl and towards the city of Pripyat and though the industrial complex which housed the main power station. Either side of the river, there were constructions which were halted, one for a new reactor.
It was reactor 4 where the accident happened, a power surge during a routine test caused a rupture and an explosion. The memorial in the viewing area is dedicated to the firemen and emergency workers that fought to contain the damage, knowing that there would be no chance of surviving the radiation effects.
The kindergarted in one small villiage was hidden away beneath the trees, like something out of a fairytale, inside was full of small cribs and toys. There is something quite haunting about a dark and dusty atmosphere in somewhere which would have once been filled by childrens laughter and energy. The books and items of clothing would have belonged to children who would now just younger than me and I wondered where they were now.
The best way to understand the scale of the city that was built specifically for the workers of the Chernobyl plant and their families was to get up high and after countless floors of stairs (no electricity means no lifts)
The roof of the apartment block opened out to an amazing view of the city with the outline of the reactor on the horizon, a constant reminder of the tragidy that happened here.
my curiosity of the view outweighed my vertigo here and I managed to get to the edge if only for a short amount of time.
Apparently there were rumors that this factory made military items or something secret but we didnt find any traces here. This place looked like the abandoned factory urbexing in the uk apart from some of the russian writing on the walls and things like the fire extinguishers. The place was waterlogged which made for some nice reflections but aside from that, there wasnt much here. We walked out from the complex, It was big and near to the actual factory, there were admin buildings which had fallen victim of looters and thieves.
Finally we paid a visit to the fairground, the ferris wheel, made famous by the call of duty game rises high above the trees, a rusting structure with its bright yellow pods looked vivid against the now blue sky.
The park was due to open in May of 1986, literally a few weeks after the accident but by then, Pripyat had been fully evacuated so nobody ever got a chance to enjoy the rides.
Bumper cars and chair swings were also part of the park. We had run out of time for today and now journeyed back through the checkpoints and back to Chernobyl where we would stay the night and return the following day.