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Article - Six hours in the Chernobyl Zone

10.50 The check point "Dytyatky". 21 km away from Chernobyl. We went out from the car and showed to the guard with a permission to enter the Zone. They checked us, made a notification to one girl who was wearing a short skirt, because there might be some crawling creatures.

11.05 The 30km Zone of unconditional resettlement. All formalities were passed, and then we were driving 100 km per hour on the asphalt road leading to Chernobyl.

11.20 Chernobyl. Square of the Lenin Comsomol. In the middle of a small square was a tall concrete pillar with six silver colored medals, which the Lenin Comsomol was awarded for its 70 year history. I hoped to see abandoned town, but in return I felt that I had traveled in a time machine and appeared 20-30 years ago in a former USSR. Simple soviet people were walking, and cars were driving on the Chernobyl streets. The central building of the square was the cinema "Ukraine", currently it was a shop. It smelled like bread and sweets inside. Interior were as a quarter of the century ago, but the display of food was not worse than in Kiev.

11.35 Chernobyl. We met our guide at the Office of ChernobylInterInform. The guide had been working for 30 years in the Zone, and now he would show us the Zone from the inside.

11.55 The Chernobyl firefighting department. Exactly from that place first cars went to fight the fire on the nuclear power plant. The small sign near the department said: "To those who saved the world". 6 fire fighters and 24 workers of the station passed away right after the breakdown because of the radiation sickness. The body of one person was not found.

12.10 The check point "Leliv" was the beginning of 10 km Zone. Near the road was a young pine forest. The closest village to the nuclear plant Kopachi was on the right side from the road. 1114 villagers had been living here before the accident. On 03.05.1986 all of them were resettled to the area near Kiev; all houses in the village were ruined and buried under the layer of earth. Only small signs of radioactive danger reminded of that village.

12.15 The kinder garden near Kopachi village. Monument to the soldiers-liberators. We entered to the kinder garden. Last time children slept here at the night of catastrophe.

12.30 Stop in front of the Nuclear Power Station at the turn of the road. It is the best place for picture taking.  It looked peaceful and calm. Guide told us not to go to the side of the road, because it could be still contaminated.

12.35 The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. We were near the 1 and 2 energy blocks of the power station. The main entrance was located there. People and vehicles worked there. Three reactors, which were not damaged, were launched to work 6 month after the breakthrough of the reactor No4.

12.40 The metal bridge over the lake for cooling the plant was 200 m away from the station. We took bread and started to feed cat fishes, who were as big as real monsters.

13.00 The yard near the Reactor No 4. It was something unreal; I accepted everything as if I were in the movie.

13.10 The check post "Prypyat". We were entering to Prypyat. I hoped to see city a ghost town, but saw a jungle town. There were only trees and bushes. The first stop is Hotel Polissya, we went up to the roof to observe the abandoned town. You could see a lot of trees hiding the houses and Power station in Chernobyl. I walked along the corridor in the hotel. There was no furniture or no utensils. Everything was destroyed during evacuation or by marauders.

13.45 The Ferries wheel and the playing ground. Yellow cabins of the Wheel at the playground stuck in my head forever. Attraction complex was built in 1986. Its solemn opening was planned on the 1st of May. However, it had never happened.

14.20 The primary school No 2. Rules for pupils, bulletins with soviet symbols, books and old newspapers were in the hall and all over the class rooms.

14.35 The standard five stored house near the school. The list of dwellers was near the entrance. Around 5 families lived there. Fearful and destroyed apartments, ruined furniture reminded about people who lived there and left. When people left they closed windows; that is how, not so many polluted components were trapped in the flats. That is why, it was safe to walk in the apartments.

14.45 Surprising visit to the police department in Prypyat. Near the entrance there were two pine trees in the concrete boxes for flowers, wastes and garbage were inside. There were 13 bullpens.

15.00 The sport ground. The pool and boxes for jumps into water looks so odd without water. This place worked longer than other places in the Zone; up to 1996, liquidators who worked in the Zone swam in that pool.

15.30 The bridge through the river Prypyat. It was only 10 km to the border with Belarus and 10 km to the Chernobyl plant.

15.45 Again Chernobyl. So-called Ostriv (The Island). Once a small shipbuilding factory was here, now it is a place for preserving radioactive ships.

16.00 The eating room in the building of the ChernobylInterInfrom office. Today's menu was usual, but tasty: sliced meat, soup, salad, chopped meat with potatoes, pancakes with sour cream, juice and pastry.

16.50 The "Dytaytky" check point. We passed through the special frame, if it showed a green light that meant you ware clean. Our car was also fine. So we were leaving the Zone.


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