Jul 26 2007

Dispatches from Chernobyl, Part IV: Chisto?

by in Chernobyl Tour 2007, Eastern Europe & the Caucasus, Ukraine

With the visit to Pripyat over, our tour of the exclusion zone was slowly drawing to a close. We stopped at the 10km exclusion zone checkpoint, where a guard ran a Geiger counter along the side of the bus and gave us a thumbs up to proceed back to the city of Chernobyl. Before heading back to Chornobylinterinform, we stopped at a ship “graveyard”, memorial park, and small enclosure that contained vehicles used by the liquidators during the cleanup effort.

Chernobyl shipyard
These ships were abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster due to their high levels of radiation.

Chernobyl shipyard

Chernobyl shipyard

bridge near Chernobyl shipyard

radiation sign near Chernobyl shipyard

vehicles used by Chernobyl liquidators
Firetrucks and armored personnel carriers used by the liquidators

vehicles used by Chernobyl liquidators

vehicles used by Chernobyl liquidators

Chernobyl memorial
Memorial erected on the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster

We arrived back at Chornobylinterinform in the late afternoon, and after dutifully standing in line to wash our hands (with our guide mumbling something about particles and parts per million, or whatever) we were served a delicious four course “clean” (meaning, all the food was apparently brought in from outside the zone) meal. I was completely puzzled by one of the beverages, a bright pink concoction with the consistency of jello that hadn’t quite solidified. We dined with an Englishman who had recently returned from North Korea, which, he claimed, was one of the best countries he has visited. I was totally jealous, considering I’ve been wanting to go to North Korea for the past four years. Maybe next year?

Before leaving Chornobylinterinform, we took turns posing for photos on this machine that apparently checks for radiation, or something. Like I said in a previous entry, the health and safety briefing was lacking.

Chernobyl  radiation machine

Ryan, myself, and Laura

Kittens outside chornobylinterinformChornobylinterinform

kittens outside chornobylinterinform
Ryan and Laura playing with the radioactive kittens. Uh, no, you can’t take them home…and while Purell hand sanitizer kills 99.999999% of germs, I don’t think that applies to radiation.

When we reached the 30km, and final, checkpoint, a guard ran a Geiger counter along the side of the bus, once again declared it clean, and ordered us off the bus. We were led into a building containing a row of machines that check zone visitors for possible contamination. I stepped onto the machine, placed my hands on the side, and stared at the four buttons in front of me, silently praying that the green one marked “chisto” (“clean”), and not either of the two red buttons, would light up. After a few agonizing seconds, the green button declared that I was clean, the steel bar unlocked, and I was free to leave the zone.

radiation check at Chernobyl checkpoint

Several in our group stood there on the machines, waiting for instructions of some sort, until the guard supervising the process grinned at them, gave a thumbs up sign, and urged them on using the only English he knew, “OK, OK!” Our entire group passed, which was comforting, because I don’t think anyone was really looking forward to the decontamination showers. Rather, we just wanted to get back on the bus as quickly as possible, as the skies had darkened overhead, signaling that a torrential downpour was well on its way.

Read more about the tour:
1. Dispatches from Chernobyl, Part I: Dude, where’s your Geiger counter?
2. Dispatches from Chernobyl, Part II: Liquidators Memorial / Kopachi / Catfish / Reactor 4
3. Dispatches from Chernobyl, Part III: The ghosts of Pripyat

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14 Responses to Dispatches from Chernobyl, Part IV: Chisto?

  1. From El Capitan:

    You are the luckiest person on the face of the earth.
    Ukraine. Chernobyl.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Posted on July 31, 2007 at 3:27 pm #
  2. From Diane:

    Fabulous travel journal and photos! I’m always intensely interested in extreme places – usually that means a slum market in Africa or the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia. It just doesn’t get more extreme than Chernobyl!
    Thanks very much for the tour!

    Posted on November 4, 2007 at 1:01 am #
  3. From Kayne Karnbach:

    Thanks for the photos and for sharing your increadible experience!

    Posted on March 23, 2008 at 11:08 am #
  4. From Aidan R.:

    Thanks for posting this great write up! I imagine you’ve seen the visit to chernobyl on vbs.tv? Check it out. North Korea is also on my list having went to East Germany when I was just a kid!

    Posted on May 30, 2008 at 1:33 am #
  5. From Semen:

    Good photos. And truly story. I work in zone and recomend you web-site about unique exclution zone.

    Posted on July 8, 2008 at 8:02 am #
  6. From Louis:

    I love your photos and I also loved Ryan!! haha! LOL…just joking…Thanks for sharing your photos!

    Posted on July 28, 2008 at 4:37 pm #
  7. From Matt:

    Great story!
    And, as a Scranton resident, bravo on the Blue Shirt!

    Posted on November 20, 2008 at 12:33 pm #
  8. From howard:

    The “radio active kittens” just killed me. I doubt they’re radioactive, but I bet they’re lonely and hungry. So sad. Tragic.

    Posted on November 30, 2008 at 3:09 am #
  9. From АннА:

    Чернобыль- Несчастье Украины. Очень жаль…

    Posted on October 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm #
  10. From steve:

    interesting place but i would like to know how the ex residents feel about you going there.

    Posted on November 28, 2009 at 3:39 pm #
  11. From Lindsay:

    Not sure, but you can go on tours of Pripyat led by former residents: http://pripyat.com/

    Posted on November 29, 2009 at 1:45 am #
  12. From Nia:

    Wah mengerikan kalo masa depan kita pake tenaga nuklir bisa bisa bencana buatan tangan manusia sendiri,lihatlah chernobyl sampai sekarang kotanya mati dan banyak anak anak menjadi korban dengan mengidap kanker,apakah dengan mengorbankan nasib manusia kita bisa berjaya di masa depan? klik info ini ya man teman dan klik juga di mbah google potret2 orang2 yang kena dampak chernobyl,mengerikan


    Posted on March 19, 2011 at 7:51 am #
  13. From Bryan:

    nice job. makes me want to take a trip there myself in 20 years to see how much more mother nature will take over. how long does the tour allow you to stay in pripyat? I tend to zone out when lookin at ruins and wouldnt want to get stranded. sucks they wouldnt let you take pics of the fish. would have liked to see how big they are. good job almost gettin one. also why does every chernobyl gallery call the murals of children that people have painted graffitti? to me they are memorials of the children of pripyat.

    Posted on July 10, 2012 at 11:28 am #


  1. At Home In The Wasteland » Ukraine/Poland ‘07 Roundup - July 4, 2009

    […] / Kopachi / Catfish / Reactor 4 5. Dispatches from Chernobyl, Part III: The ghosts of Pripyat 6. Dispatches from Chernobyl, Part IV: Chisto? 7. Kiev: Post-Chernobyl food run/4th of July dinner (or how I flew 6000 miles to partake in Oreo […]

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