This is the residence of the town guard.
At first glance, Ghost Town seems like a normal town. There is a taxi stop, a grocery store, someone's wash hangs from the balcony and the windows are open. But then I see a slogan on a building that says - "The Party of Lenin Will Lead Us To The Triumph Of Communism"......and I realize that those windows were opened to the spring air of April of 1986.
There are many places that not structurally safe, or have collected pockets of intense radiation. There are places where no one dares to go. One such place is the Red Wood forest and another is the Ghost Town Cemetary. The relatives of the people who are buried there can not visit, because in addition to people, much of the radioctive graphite nuclear core is buried there. It is one of the most toxic places on earth.
Maybe it was not hard to guess that this would be the first place I wanted to visit.
It's a biker thing
No motorcycle shop could survive a catastrophe like this.
This is a sales sticker for a Chezet, 26hp, 343cc, motorcycle. Price = 1050 rubles. Chezet! It was the ultimate dream machine for all young bikers in the Soviet Union. I remember being a school girl in a crowd of bad boys hanging outside and drooling on the showcase window of the cycle shop......dreaming of what we could do with 26 hp bike, because Grandpa's crippled dinosaur had only 15 ponnies but how the HELL could we ever afford it in this lifetime????? The average monthly wage was only 180 rubbles then.
When the town siren went off on Sunday morning, mass panic ensued. With the police evacuting along with everyone else, banks and even jewelry stores went relatively unnoticed, but this shop was emptied out in a matter of an hour. The police began shooting looters in May, when radioactive TV sets began to appear in the pawn shops of Kiev.
Polissia is the name for a region where chernobyl area is located.
We are at the reception desk of largest hotel in a Ghost Town, the lyrics of a "Hotel California" is in my head.
This is a room with trees growing through a stone floor.
This is the banquet room. It was used for weddings, celebrating birthdays and office parties. There are more signs of life here than anywhere else in Ghost Town.
It is safe to be in the open air in Ghost Town. It is inside the houses where the real danger lies.
Taking such a walk with no special radiation detecting device is like walking through a minefiled wearing snowshoes.
All doors are open. Through the door is a distant echo of what life was like here.
Children had to part with their favourite toys. People had to leave everything, from pets and photos of their grandparents to cars. Incredibly, people had homes, garages, cars, country houses, they had money, friends, relatives cats and dogs. People had their lives. Each in own niche. And then in a matter of hours, their entire world fell to pieces.
After a few hours trip in an army vehicle, they stood under a shower, washing away radiation. Then they stepped in a new life, naked with no home, no friends, no dogs, no money, no past and with a very doubtful future.
Photo of evacuation. Spring, 1986.
These are bikers taking part in a town parade in 1985. They ride old Soviet wimpy bikes. Ohh, a lot of things have changed since 1985, and one of them is technology. My big Ninja probably produces more horsepower than all of them added together.
One of my favourite things is to open throttle and with a roar of a wounded dinosaur break the silence of an empty town... then shut down motor and listen how ghosts send a curses to a big bore four cylinder engine.
And their flag was still there.
All of this happy horseshit was for the May 1st Labor Day parade.
"Ghost Town" video film
The post office is decorated for the Labor Day parade.
May 1st never came in this town. On April 27th, the whole population was evacuated and this street has not seen a parade since....and probably never will again.
The Ghost Cafe "Pripyat"
Back to the USSR.
This was the town in the early 1980's.
This is how it looks now. The park is the most radiaoactive section of town because it is directly in front of the atomic plant. It is said that people ran for their lives as they searched for their children in the atomic smoke...... I don't know if it is true, but I know that on April 27, on the day of evacuation, the average radiation level in town was about 1 roentgen!
Ghost Town is a modern Pompeii. The Soviet era is preserved here - in the radiation for all this years.
Every step toward the little cars adds 100 microroentgen to my geiger counter reading.
In the Russian language a big dipper is a devils wheel. Well, this look pretty much like one.
On the carousel we read 103 micro R/hr. This place symbolizes what really happened here.
This is the highest building in town. On the day of disaster, many people gathered on this roof to see the beautiful shining cloud above the Atomic Power Plant.
We are climbing up to the roof of this building.
Elevator doors are open forever.
Someone didn't recieve their mail. A couple of papers and the April edition of "Fish and Hunt" magazine. Maybe they were out of town. Either way, they never returned.
The feelings expressed on this wall is Vovik+Tanya=love. One wonders if they survived. And if they did, where they are now. Maybe they will come across this site and see this picture and remember a happier day.
This man never got his paper. The news in it suddenly became unimportant. The calendar shows that Saturday, April 26. was a special day. Judging by things he left at the door, he liked to fish. The Sundays and Year on this calendar were in red ink and has now faded.
May be left for a fishing trip and never came back. I wonder how he felt. It's like you life has been cut into two pieces. In one is your slippers still under you bed, photos of a first love that are left on the piano...in the other is you yourself, you memories and a fishing rod.
Up on the roof.
"Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!"
I wonder if this roof is what Matthew was talking about.. From here, the shining cloud above the reactor must have been a staggering sight.
Standing on the roof of the highest building in this empty town brings a feeling of being completely alone in the world - like this whole town is.
They call it a town where time stands still. Maybe it is because the clocks here don't measure time - they measure radiation levels.
There is no phone service. Cellular phones don't work either.
The day after the accident, this place on the bridge provided a good view of the gaping crack in the nuclear containment vessel that was ruptured by the explosion. Many curious people came here to have a look and were bathed in a flood of deadly x-rays emanating directly from the glowing nuclear core.
This is what is left of the swimming pool "Azure"
Beethoven's moonlight sonata lies trampled in a gutter.
Photos are of the town kindergarden, they don't need my comments, they speak for themselves and tell the Ghost Town's story in a way that no words can. There are hundreds of little gas masks, a teachers diary and a last note saying that their walk on Saturday has been canceled due to some unforeseen contingency.
"Ghost Town" video film
This sculpture was in the center of the town, it was moved to the nuclear power plant after the accident. It is Prometheus stealing fire from Gods and giving it to the humans...