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Report - TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat Parts 1,2,3 & 4 June 2013

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by True_British_Metal, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    Visited with Landie Man and Zotez, the first in a series of expeditions to the holy grail. Forgive me as I'm not really s'posed to do this, but I think it's better to split it into sections as otherwise a single thread would get too clogged up. I could also go into detail about stuff like our Kyiv escapades/food/the drama blady blah, but I won't.

    So finally it's happened. After so many near-cancellations and problems with getting people to go, it finally goes through... at a costly price. Still, after a string of fails in the North West (not giving up on any though, rest assured) karma plays to the book and allows us access to every building we want to go in (we didn't get in all, but what we didn't see wasn't epic for sure). But we were only there for 2 days; at absolute maximum we were allowed 30-40 minutes in each building so when you go inside you're really, really running the gauntlet with time and seeing everything. Not only that, given the ban on building access with many buildings at times you really have to be careful not to be spotted; police are supposed to patrol but we never saw any. What you've really got to worry about at times is if you're near a government building in an exposed area; as an example, the hospital (which will be covered in time) is situated near to the laundry building which the government use currently. Our guide told us that anyone who gets spotted or heard inside will have the police called on 'em! Same with rooftops, 'cause as overgrown as Pripyat may be, you can't take your chances when your guide's job and your stay in the zone are at stake. Given how nice this guide was to us, you wouldn't want him getting fired.

    So first stop on our tour was the memorial garden. Being in Chernobyl itself was odd; so many derelict buildings like farm houses and huts, all dotted about amongst the live buildings. As for the garden itself, it's pretty spartan but it's sobering being there, seeing all the monuments dedicated to the abandoned villages. A new monument's been put up to those who lost their lives in the Fukushima disaster (not pictured).

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    Down the road, the firefighter's memorial
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    We also briefly stopped across the way to see the abandoned boats, now inaccessible due to what our guide blames as excessive bureaucracy and stupid legislation.
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    Now onto the main part of the report, the village Kindergarten. I've long forgotten the name of the village this served, all I know was that it was on the way to the power plant complex. Zotez didn't like this place because it's had the grubby hands of tourists all over it, but for me it's one of the most sobering parts of Pripyat. Aside from other connotations you could make from this place, it's sad seeing it because even though anything of value was long plundered by the government there are so many personal things left behind. A childhood lost overnight, y'know? On a side not, by god it was NOT pleasant being in there! We were mostly covered up, but oh man the MOSQUITOES were everywhere!

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    Oh yeah, did I also say that the radiation in the soil was pretty damn high?
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    Hope you've enjoyed so far, stay tuned for the next post! That said you may be waiting a while between reports; Flickr Uploadr is so, SO SLOW!
     

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  2. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    Re: TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat Part 1, June 2013

    So onwards we went, to the nuclear complex. A real plethora of buildings here; whilst the complex hasn't generated a single joule of energy since the last reactor was turned off in 2000, it's all very much buzzing with activity with the construction of a new sarcophagus for reactor 4 amongst other things. On the way we spotted the incomplete reactor and its cooling tower, which was due to start generation in 1988 but never came to be; the cranes still standing tall since 1986.

    Landie and our guide, with the cooling tower in the distance.
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    The nuclear waste store, built after 1986 but abandoned due to failing the safety requirements.
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    A pano of the entire complex, view the full size on my Flickr.
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    Now for the people shots!
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    End of part 1!

    Love as always,

    TBM x
     
  3. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat, Part 2 June 2013

    As continued from before.

    So this time we decided to hit a tower block. With the ban on building access in force, our guide decided to take us to an area right in the corner of Pripyat so as not to be seen by any patrols. Very much a case of get up there, don't be seen and get out. Fun. Landie and Zotez decided to check out the many floors in hope of finding something of interest, but me being me I ran on ahead and got onto the roof, so as not to get in the way of the other 2 or be spotted, for that matter.

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    And what an exceptional view it was!
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    Unfortunately in 2002, just before the zone was opened to tourists anything of value including metal piping that hadn't been looted already, was plundered by the government in every building. All that really remained here were cookers and minor furniture; very few personal possessions. All the beds had been devoured by rats.

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    Though we did find a piano downstairs. Could play a few notes still, despite being damaged.
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    The overgrown playground outside.
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  4. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    Re: TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat, Part 2 June 2013

    Next stop was the city Kindergarten. Didn't have quite the same rural charm as the other one did, and this one also had the grubby hands of tourists all over it, but the feeling of a childhood lost still lingered whilst exploring this place. Forgive me as this sounds a little peverse given the connotations surrounding this place, but it was a brilliant explore nonetheless.

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    Looking at this made me feel a bit uneasy; perhaps you could say these dolls act as a metaphor for the severe injuries and deformities caused by the blast.
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  5. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    Re: TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat, Part 2 June 2013

    Next stop the stadium. I had this weird idea that the stadium would be some grand, epic space but sadly it mostly had been overgrown and become completely desolate. The track was barely visible, and all that remained was a single stand. Very stripped and spartan looking.

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    Not a lot to see, but it's another ticked off the list isn't it?

    Next on the hitlist, the iconic gym and swimming pool. This one didn't close until 1996, having stayed open for the plant workers. Though not majorly affected, unfortunately this one had been hit by graffiti artists. Boo.
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    Running on ahead of the group, I found something I've never seen before in any reports of this place; the mini-pool.
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    We did actually annoy our guide a bit here, however; we never heard, but he kept beeping the horn outside for reasons we didn't know. Turns out it was lunch time (losing track of time, eh?) and if you arrive at the canteen late your permit to the zone is revoked! Crazy stuff!

    Hope you enjoyed. Stay tuned for reports 3 and 4. Love as always,

    TBM x
     
  6. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat, Part 3 June 2013

    The beginning of the last day in the zone, and one you could say that was one of the most successful explore days I've ever had; despite time restrictions on each site, I don't think you could fault this trip.

    I'd been banging on about it for weeks to poor Landie and Zotez about seeing the trains, so we sought about doing this first today. However, on a total whim our guide said: 'It's not included on any of our access permits, and it's very contaminated there, but I'm going to see if I can take you to see the unfinished cooling tower.' What a diamond. Whilst the area outside was used for storing fuel rod transporters (NOT been used, rest assured!), there was no gatehouse or anyone lingering in the area to stop us. Heh.

    So this was supposed to be the cooling tower for Reactor 5 (IIRC), which was due to open in 1988 but was abandoned after the blast and left in the state you see it in today. I've never stood under a fully complete cooling tower, but what an experience it was!
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    I'm in there somewhere lol
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    Can't remember what this was...
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    So on we went, to see what I love best! We were damn lucky to see these, as this bit is effectively live; our guide didn't have a permit to enter this area, and whilst we were taking photos he was asked whether he had a permit to enter. He didn't. We got our photos, but our guide said if any other tourists go there again he'll need to show a permit.

    A lot of the photos came out poorly because of my camera being in the shade and miscalculating the exposure. Oh well.
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    The next 2 sites we visited were only brief and fleeting, and not of great note compared with what was to come!

    We stopped by in the secondary school with the gasmasks, but only had 10-15 minutes so really it was just to see the masks and nothing else. Shame. We would've gone and explored the gym hall as well, but as you can just about see there was a dip in the floor at the entrance which looked like death on a stick.
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    Why were these gasmasks held in the school? Well basically, at the time of the blast in 1986, tensions between the US and the Soviet Union as you'll all know were pretty high so in the event of an attack (whether it be a normal bomb, gas or even a nuclear bomb) the students would have donned the masks and been evacuated.
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    We made a very brief stop to see what was one of the graveyards for the robots used in the clean up at the time of the blast. Nothing remained except a seriously radioactive claw; the robots were so badly contaminated they were taken away and buried.
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    We made a quick stop at Pripyat bus station, again not much to see.
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    Coffee machines
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    This area had been mostly submerged after heavy snowfall this year that even older people had never seen the likes of!
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    I didn't have a zoom lens, but we noticed another abandoned ship in the distance
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    Stay tuned for the last part, and thanks for looking. Love as always,

    TBM x
     
  7. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat, Part 4 June 2013

    The final part of my expedition.

    As I'm sure you would too, I was ecstatic when our guide walks us down the road, not saying a word about where we're going until he stops: 'This is the hospital.' Woo! But there was a catch; the government use one of the buildings next door as a laundry store, so we had to be pretty stealthy going round here. Now given the amount of broken glass, that's pretty fucking hard! He said not to linger around the windows at the back, as if they spot anyone inside they'll call the police and then that's his job on the rocks! To be honest, the hospital is one of the buildings I could have done a far better job of covering; I wasted a load of time looking for the mortuary, leaving the other 2 behind and running up and down the corridors much to their annoyance! Be under no illusion here, I'm not obsessed with them, but for every hospital I've been to they've been elusive or sealed! Our guide only gave us 30-40 minutes inside; there are 5 floors plus the basement (which has the firefighters' dangerously contaminated clothing there so no way would I go there!) so no way in hell would you be able to see it all in that time. Now it was only after seeing another report afterwards that it was a seperate outbuilding round the back! :mad

    If I ever go back here, without a shadow of a doubt I will be back to see more of this; this is a hospital that an explorer's dreams are made of! Though heavily decayed, how can you argue with beds in every room, medicine lying about, operating theatres and some of the most amazing natural decay you'll ever see?

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  8. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    Re: TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat, Part 4 June 2013

    After the hospital, we did a few mini-bimbles around some of the inaccessible buildings. First off was the school, which collapsed this April.
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    Council offices
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    The next stop was the Prometheus cinema/mini-concert venue(?). Loved this place, except for the fact I forgot 2 fundamental things: my torch and a tripod. I did get one reasonably decent photo of the main screen, but I got to the projection room but couldn't find anything to rest my camera on! My on-camera flash is broken, so I couldn't get a photo! Boo!
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    Will upload the last part of this set shortly. Watch this space.

    Love TBM x
     
  9. True_British_Metal

    True_British_Metal 28DL Regular User
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    Re: TBM's adventures in Chernobyl and Pripyat, Part 4 June 2013

    The final part! On our way to the amusement park, we stopped by at the theatre which had the communist posters and iconography. No access to the auditorium as it was too exposed.


    No offence but the guy on the far left (pun not intended) looks like a bit... odd? I find his expression a bit creepy, don't you?
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    Though difficult to make out, the building in the distance was one of a few emblazoned with the communist hammer and sickle on the roof.
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    And now, for the most iconic urbex site in the whole world; probably the only site in the world that an explorer can look at and say: 'yeah, that's the ferris wheel in Pripyat isn't it?' Not once did this turn a wheel in anger for the people of Ukraine, not once.
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    I'm in there somewhere :p:
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    The shooting range, completely empty and trashed
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    And just behind, the city sports centre.
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    Before you ask, no I did not try the monkey swing! lol
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    A conference hall?
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    Get in the ring!
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    And our final stop on the tour, the supermarket in the main square.
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    So there we have it, my biggest rite of passage passed. What would I rate of the experience overall? To be honest, it was pretty expensive with there being 3 of us, and realistically I should have stayed a couple of extra days in Kyiv as it would have cost us peanuts to do so but it was definitely worth it. Did it all in 3 days (left Monday, got back Wednesday), but it was a truly magnificent experience that I will never, ever EVER forget. Would I go back? If I could get a couple more along and spend more time in Kyiv or perhaps, Ukraine, then definitely. We saw virtually all the good bits of Pripyat (certainly all we'd planned to see), but if I go back I'd be sure to do a better job of documenting both the hospital and cinema. I'd do the police station too, that'd be a good one to see.

    Forgive me as I should have done this earlier, but first and foremost I'd like to thank my guide (who shall remain nameless) for being an absolute diamond and letting us round all the buildings and places we wanted to see. Secondly I'd like to thank Dylan from Lupine Travel for organising this all for us, but not for not sorting our night in Kyiv properly (LOL! Thankfully we did actually get a room thanks to this proper hot girl from a hostel a couple of floors down)! Finally I'd like to thank both UrbanX and Ric Wright for their excellent advice and help with being in the zone beforehand.

    Love as always,

    TBM x
     
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