A Travellerspoint blog

So, this is Moldova

semi-overcast 30 °C

I could only stay in Odessa for one day to stay on schedule. Which is a shame, I really like it there. After a night of heavy drinking with the guys from my hostel and a few winks of sleep, I'm off to the next city, Chișinău. I made the decsion to pass through this city knowing full well that I shouldn't expect too much. For one, not too many know much about the country of Moldova at all, present company included.

I head to the train station in the afternoon. I have some difficulty finding the track that the train is on. I asked pretty much anyone that crossed my path. At best I would get a point to some vague direction. It didn't help much. I scoured every inch of the train station and couldn't find the track. I see way off in the distance. I make my way to wards with it, with Sapphire, not getting any lighter, lagging behind me. I hand my ticket to one of the worker's of the station and they point me to a particular car of the train. I FOUND IT!!! I jump on. Train after train, they noticeably become less impressive. I find a padded bench with a table next to it and sit down. No air conditioning and vinyl seats, my skin sticks to the seat with a vice grip. I put in my ear buds and let Jason Mraz sing me into tranquility. I people watch around the train. There is pretty, young woman sitting across from me. She has intricate french braids encircling the back of her head like a whirl pool before coming to a braid over her left shoulder. There is middle age woman sitting on the other side, about 40. Classic soccer mom. A young boy a few seats away that appears to be speaking to her. Her son perhaps? An older woman a few seats away, very grandmotherly looking.

I look out the window and watch the country side pass by me. I've countless miles pass me by from the inside of a train, bus or car. In one way, it all looks different. In another way, it all looks the same. Whether its the snow capped mountains and teal blue waters of Switzerland, Alpacas of the Andes, or the infinite desert of the Middle East. I look at it knowing that only a few people will come as far as I have to see it, and no one will see it the way I do.

The train slows to a crawl. We're stopping at the boarder. I take out my passport. The young woman with the braids looks at my passport. "You're from Canada?" Yes, I say. I ask her where she is from. She says she is from Moldova. She was in Odessa visiting family. We exchange a few words. She asks me what I'm doing in Moldova. "Just travelling, passing through." She looks pretty surprised. Not too many people come this way, I guess. I don't think too much of it. There aren't too many places on this planet that aren't worth my time. She speaks to the soccer mom. She starts asking me questions. What brings me here, where have I been. I point to Sapphire and all of the flags sewn on. Her eye become wide. She speaks to the grandmother and she looks at me with a look of extreme astoundment. Like travellers coming to Moldova is a new phenomenon. Maybe it is? Surely I can't be the first one. They tell be that Moldova is very poor and can be very dangerous. I've heard that about so many places that it barely registers anymore.

The train is going to stay at the station for quite a while, so we get off for some fresh air. The sun has just set, so its much cooler outside. I welcoming breeze washes over us. We continue our chat. The young boy has braces and I ask him how long he's had them. Just over a year. I tell him that I've had some form of orthodontic apparatus stuck to my head for 8 years. He's completely shell shocked. I show him my picture-perfect pearly whites. The soccer mom tells me that people in her parts call that the "Classic American Smile". Despite that pang, they look good and I earned them. Everyone starts to get back on board and I follow suit.

The soccer mom asks me questions about what I plan on doing in Chișinău. I tell her I have no solid plans, just wander around tomorrow before my train in the evening to Bucharest. She tells me that they have booming wine industry and I should try and sample some. Like I need someone to encourage me to drink! She asks me where I'm staying and how I plan on getting there. I tell her I booked a hostel, not quite sure how to get there. I only really know a route to the hostel about 30% of the time. And that's usually only because its already really close. I have fun looking for it. She looks a tad disappointed. She tells me she'll call me a taxi when she get to the station.

We all get off and head outside. Its much cooler now, but still very comfortable. The soccer mom get on the phone. She tells me the details of the cab and starts to make her way to the street. I run up to her and give her a hug. She seems a little surprised at my act of retribution, but settles in my arms. I wait for the cab she is describing. I had the address to the driver. We drive around town. I always associate negative reviews of cities with being outdated or old fashioned. But Chișinău seems surprisingly modern. Lots of lighted signs, more then I expected. I watch the roads as we head to the hostel.

He pulls over the side of the road and points to a tiny house at a corner. Not really what I was expecting, but I head on over. He sits in the cab and waits for me to go inside. For a country with such pessimistic reputation, the people are certainly altruistic. An elderly lets me in and is surprised to see me. I tell her I have a reservation and hand her the printed confirmation. I look around the hostel is simply a house that takes in travellers. She reads it and shows me to my bed. Its simple mattress on a loft. Without much headroom, I navigate around hunched over trying to find something to wear to bed. With the older people running the place, sprawling out in panties and tank top doesn't seem quite appropriate. If find my yoga pants that I wore to to the Chernobyl tour and grab my wash bag as I head the wash room. Showering twice a day seems to be common practice for me these days. I wrap my head with my all too familiar turban and head up too the loft to go to sleep. I have it too myself and its pretty quiet. Cool, as well, being so high up and near the windows. I put in my earbuds again and drift off to sleep.

I get up the next morning a little late. All I have to do today is buy my 5pm train tickets to Bucharest, store Sapphire at the train station, and then kill the rest of the day. I leave the hostel mid morning. Most hostels have a wealth of information to share about the city. Since this is really more of mode of supplemental income, any information is somewhat lackluster. I study the small map I have in my Lonely Planet and determine a way to get into town. I take off down the road and see where it takes me. It doesn't take too long before I'm terribly lost. I back track a few blocks and see if there is another way. Maybe I'll recognize a landmark from the car ride over. I soon find a road that looks like it will head me in the right direction. I take it and see what happens. I don't have much Moldovian money left, I need to find a forex to exchange my remaining Ukrainian currency. I see a grocery store that appears to have one, but its closed. Hmmmm.... I continue down a shady road. Its another scorcher and I've managed to evade the damages of the sun on my fair skin. So far, Chișinău doesn't seems so uninviting as much as it's just unremarkable. Its just like most other semi-modern to modern cities.

I keep along my path and see a western union in the distance. Surely I can change my money there. I make my way up the steps and squeeze into the tiny space infront of the teller's window. She sees that I'm Canadian and asks me how I'm enjoying my time, I say the city is lovely and I haven't made any solid plans on what to do. I take my money and continue on. I'm starting to get pretty hungry. I see that there are a few taxis at an intersection up ahead. I walk over and ask one of them if he can take me to the train station. Its nice to give myself a break from all of the walking, and hauling Sapphire around isn't making it any easier. He takes me to the station and I get out. The train station has clearly been recently renovated. Very modern and clean. I see the international ticket desk and purchase my ticket to Bucharest. I ask where I can store my bag and she points to a door for me to enter. It takes me outside to a courtyard. I see a luggage sign up ahead and I follow it. I look around and the current environment and I see the Moldova I think people have been trying to describe. Old, haggard people surround the buildings with their belongings on the ground. Selling used clothes, shoes and other personal items. I knock on the door to the luggage room and an middle aged, but youthful man answers. I point to Sapphire and ask him to store it. He takes if from me and places it on a shelf with other bags belonging to people. He gives me a metal disk with a number 3 on it. I pay a few leu. I'm happy to relieve myself of the added weight for the rest of the day.

I start looking for somewhere to eat. I look in my book to see what my options are. Not too many. There is grocery store nearbye and decide to check it out. I walk inside and its just like any other kind of shop. I'm a little taken aback the attire I see the women in. I see atleast 5 wearing clear 'stripper heals'. The arches of my feet feel sore at the mere sight of them. And skirts so short that you can actually see the crease of their backsides. Can't be too comfortable. I look down at my blue sundress that comes just to my knees and croc sandles. What I always wear in hot weather. I see women dressing like they way they do from time to time in the streets of Toronto and I wonder why they do it. But I guess they also wonder why I don't do it. I just don't crave the attention that dressing like that brings. I buy some fruit and a bottle of water and head outside. I bite my apple and down some water as I peruse my guide book some more on how to kill time here. There is a shopping mall not too far away. Some air conditioning would be nice. I try to find it and I see that I have to cross a very busy intersection. Not one of my favourite tasks while overseas. Not knowing the driving habits of the locals, you are always taking on a bit of risk. There are some people crossing the street and buddy up next to them closely. They understandably stare at me questioningly. Its the only way I know I can cross the street safely. Just do what they do and you should survive. We all quickly cross two roads and I'm in the mall parking lot. I walk in and look around. Very colourful and vibrant with several levels. An electronic store, department store, hair salon. What you would expect.

I look for a restaurant to relax for a little bit. I see a coffee shop and check it out. The hostess directs me to table. I motion for a menu, and she points directly to the table. The menu is a computer built directly into the table. That's unique. I don't think I've ever seen that before. I look at the options and I'm not too impressed. Mostly fancy coffee concoctions and desserts. I'm in need of an actual meal. I say thanks, but no thanks. I walk on see what else they have. There is a restaurant on one of the top levels. With sleek black wall panelling and pink neon accents, I look and notice that it looks more like a nightclub then a restaurant. Somewhat reminiscent of the ladies I encountered at the grocery store. They look like they would fit right in here. Not what I typically go for, but I'm near famished and I'll try anything. The host takes me to a table and hands me a menu. FOOD! I take a look at what they have and I see a few options if what I might like. I order Salmon and Perrier. I stretch out, cross my legs and start looking in my bag. I realize that I left 50 Shades in Sapphire. Drat. I put in my ear buds and put on a random song. "The Great Divide" by Hanson starts playing. Awesome. I instantly think back to 2 years ago when I was invited to interview them for the fan club in Chicago. They seemed genuinely impressed and interested with my accomplishments involving travel. My food and drink arrive and I'm famished. Its salmon with vegetables and rice and a perrier. I start eating it and its actually quite tasty. I order another Perrier after quickly downing the one I have. A young family walks in. Not quite the family restaurant I went to as a child. After finishing, I pay and see what else there is in the mall. Not too much that I'm interested in.

I head back out and I'm hit hard my the humidity and smog. I head up the street and see what's what. I enter an open air market and start wandering through the crowded aisles. More of what I saw near the train station. Clothes, knick knacks, and so forth. I see a table with some baby clothes and take a peek. My cousin, Kelly, is expecting a daughter in a few months and I'm always looking for something to give to my nephews, Cash and Carter. I see a bonnet that Kelly might like for her new girl. I buy it and continue on my way. Not too many things here pique my interest.

I head back to the street. I still have quite a few hours to kill. I see an establishment with a 'No Guns Allowed' sing. Kind of takes me by surprise because that is generally implied in Canada.

300853_101..539931882_n.jpg
No Guns Allowed

I keep walking and see a hotel with lounge. I give it a try. I get another perrier and sit down. The decor is quite dated and it smells of cigarettes. This is what I was expecting Moldova to be. Why on earth did I have to leave 50 Shades in my other bag???? I'm starting to get devastatingly bored. I pull out my ipod and see if I have any TV shows that I'd be willing to see again. I have several episodes of How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and Scrubs. Each I've seen dozens of times. I bite the bullet and watch Season 1 of HIMYM, atleast its been several months since I've seen it. I order two more Perriers. Some sort of rugby or soccer team is in the lounge. I casually people watch as I listen to the dialogue of Ted Mosby in my ears. He may be old Ted Mosby now, but Bob Saget will always be Danny Tanner to me. I never missed that show it its prime. I always sat back in class and day dreamed about being the 4th long lost Tanner sister in his San Francisco house hold. I thought Stephanie Tanner was the ideal adolescent girl that I should strive to be. Who knew she would turn into a meth addict?

Several hours pass by and I think I should get some dinner for my train. I walk up the same road and see a restaurant vaguely resembling a tiki bar. Well, I guess that's just the fashion here. Who says clubbing is only for the night time? I sit at a table that has a coffee table for dining table and a couch for chair. Comfortable, I can stretch out and relax. I see a young couple sitting accross the restaurant from me. About my age or so. The women is wearing yet again a skirt that looks like a denim tenser bandage. Her platform wedge heels are bright pink this time. The man looks like your typical bouncer in a tight black t-shirt and jeans. I order sushi and a salad.

The food comes and the portions are larger then I expected them to be. I really only should have ordered one. Oh well, I might not get another chance to eat for more then 12 hours. Might as well eat them both.

I finish and start my way back to the train station. Still pretty humid outside. I grab Sapphire and head to the tracks and wait for the train. I hand my ticket to one of the train guys and head to my bed. I'm surprised to see that I have the whole room to myself. I get comfortable and notice that the room comes with an unusual must odor. I'd rather not know what it is, I should just keep myself as clean as I can. I lay down and close my eyes as I hear the train start to take off for Bucharest. I drift off to sleep for only a few minutes before I am awoken by the train stopping. Are we at the border? I have to go to the bathroom. I head to the washroom and the door is locked. I started to hear a slightly familar voice a few rooms away. I walk down and one of the German young guys from my hostel in Odessa is going the same route I am. He invites me into his room that he is sharing with a few other people from other parts of Europe. We chit chat for a while. We're going to be stuck here for the next 2 hours and the bathroom is going to be off limits for that whole time. TWO HOURS???? Its going to migrate its way back up my kidney's if I wait that long. I try to take my mind off of it.

I go back to my room and lay back. Could I use the empty beer bottle from earlier? No, no way I could do that without some kind of funnel. What could I MacGyver into a funnel? STOP THINKING ABOUT IT! Ahhh! I close my eyes and try to make it through. After a long wait, the train starts going again. I dart of my room at lighting speed and head to the washroom just as the train guy is opening. YES!! I jump in and I am overcome by the fowl stench. Its absolutely filthy. I'm upset at this, but I have absolutely no other options. I shrug and hover over the toilet on a moving train. Success! I head back to my room and break out my bottle of purell. I've never truly appreciated that stuff until now. I lift up my sundress and cover my whole body from the chest down. I'm not risking having any of that filth on my body. I get on the bed and try to get a few hours of sleep.

I wake up right before arriving in Bucharest and its pouring. Well, atleast I won't get a sunburn today.

AC

Posted by AshleyC 09:51 Archived in Moldova Comments (0)

Odessa, I wish we got to know eachother better

sunny 32 °C

Going through the Ukraine, I had two options. Travel eastward through Lviv and onto Slovakia. Or, travel south through Odessa and to Romania. I chose the latter.

So I arrive at the Odessa on a bright and shiny morning to Ukraine's legendary party city. I head out to the front of the station and try to navigate my way to the hostel. I look at my map in my trusty Lonely planet and notice that it will be difficult to find with this map alone. I ask someone that looks like they speak english. As it turns out, this Dutchman actually has a daughter currently living in Canada! I always love hearing favourable reviews of my home and native land. He tells me that I'm better off taking a taxi. I'm not to thrilled with taking a taxi, since I'm not sure if I'll have more luck with the ATMs in Odessa. I take a stab and hire one. He brings me to my hostel. I walk up the 10 staircases, Sapphire in tow. The hostel is whisper quiet with the slight moans of hangovers scattered throughout. The owner gives me the 50 cent tour and shows me my bed. I look around and I notice a surplus of young scantily clad men around. Hmmm...

I head to the bathroom and shower. I take an opportunity to wash a few clothes. You never know when you'll get the next chance in the nomad life.

E1AB49272219AC6817487D94A543D189.jpg
Ah, I always get mistaken for Cinderella!

420012_101..564745702_n.jpg

AC

Posted by AshleyC 16:37 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

Wandering around Kiev

sunny 30 °C

So its my first free day in Kiev. This is how I like it, this is what I was born for. To wander around the streets and soak up whats around me. And Kiev is quite a magical city. Old world charm with modern day conveniences. I put on my sundress and slip on my sandles and see what the Ukraine's capital has to offer. I'm called to a park near my hostel, there is some sort of gardening festival going on. If I had a superpower, it would be to understand any language on command. That would be mighty nice.

292907_101..395346503_n.jpg
189500_101..366743032_n.jpg
551237_101..908179297_n.jpg
402111_101..759588598_n.jpg
394545_101..804098136_n.jpg

After wandering around the park, getting lost looking for the one ATM that will take my card, I find a natural museum that looks interesting. I walk around the building slightly disappointed, but not really surprised, that everything is Ukrainian. So walk around if only to be in shade, and look at all of the exhibits. Nothing I haven't really seen before. But it was nice to relieve my delicate skin from for a few hours. I head out and wander around and get lost some more.

Its time to meet with Julie. We decide to meet outside a clothing store on one of the main roads. We quickly find a bar with a patio and have a seat. She looks exactly the same as she did 4 years ago when last saw eachother in Moshi. She is surprised to hear my accent. Its always odd when people discuss your accent, because no one considers themselves to have an accent. We catch up eachother's lives. She currently lives in Dublin with her Canadian husband, Sam. This is a woman who is from London, was based in Sydney when she was living Moshi. Who knows where else she's lived, I'm afraid to ask! Her current goal is go movie to Germany, since they get more vacation days. People are envious of my life, this is the kind of life I'm envious of. I don't know if I have the energy to live overseas again. Maybe, we'll see.

183733_101..428970019_n.jpg
With Julie

After a few beers and laughs, we part ways. I head back to my hostel. I grab Sapphire and head to the train station. I have an overnight train to Odessa. I take a cab and head to the station.

Like I said, being able to understand any language on command would be mighty nice. Because wouldn't you have it? I misunderstand my ticket and go to the wrong bed! The lady who's bed I tried to sleep in was understanding and didn't think too much of it. I find my bed and stretch out. 12 hours of clickity clack and I'm in the next city if Odessa.

Until next time

AC

Posted by AshleyC 16:16 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

Yes, that is me with an AK-47

sunny 30 °C

So day two in Ukraine. When I was looking around for tours to see the Chernobyl site, I found a tour company that struck my interest with something completely unexpected to me. Going to a shooting range and firing an AK-47 and a Dragunov sniper rifle. I've always been against civilian ownership of military style weapons. Living in the community that I do, there absolutely NO NEED for such weapons, whether its for self-defense, collecting, etc. If my social climate were to change where such gun ownership for the proposes of self-defense becomes something that my neighbours consider, I would much rather move then have that kind of negative energy in my life. The risk of them falling into the wrong hands is to great to allow them in our streets. However, when the opportunity to see the other side of the debate came to me, I decided to check it out.

So after returning to my trusty ATM to withdraw the cash for this tour, I sit outside my hostel, waiting to be picked up to go to the shooting range. The driver and tour operator pick me up and I hand her the money. We start on our two hour journey to the shooting range outside Kiev. We arrive at the shooting range and I am greeted by two burly gentlemen who clearly look the parts of expert marksmen. I look around and I'm in an environment where I feel for the first time years, very foreign. From the floor to the ceiling, there are guns everywhere. I listen to him and he pulls the sniper rifle off a rack and shows it to me. It is long, black and somewhat frightening. I put my hands on it and the metal feels cold in my palms. He instructs me how to hold it properly. I look in the scope and look at the target on the wall. After I few more instructions and several deep breaths, I pull the trigger. Very titillating. I can't say that I didn't experience the rush that one would expect, but it hit me... This is all it takes to end a life. To remove someone from the planet, the human race, existence. One quick move that barely takes any effort at all. I shoot again, and again. Pausing between each round, I empty the magazine. I am surprised at how good of a shot I am. Every one of the 10 rounds was in the bulls eye. I walk down the range to the target to take the paper off the wall and the ground feels odd beneath my feet. I look down and the entire floor is covered in ammunition. No floor in site at all. I take town the target and hang a new one up. My instructor calling me a natural born sniper as I'm doing so. While I am very surprised at my innate skill, it still strikes me how easy it all is. I return to my instructor and he hands me the famed AK-47. Despite its reputation, it actually feels more primitive compared the rifle. I brace myself as I line the barrel with the target. I squeeze the trigger again. The handles jerks and hits me hard in the shoulder as I do so. Not so surprising, this shot is not as close to the bulls eye as any of the previous bullets. I keep shooting, first on semi automatic, then fully automatic setting. None of these 30 rounds are as precise this time. But I am still somewhat impressed with my accuracy. I walk down the range of discarded bullets and take the target off the wall. I look at them and think about what I just did. Something my whole life I never thought I would ever do. Shooting deadly weapons for sport. While I am glad I did it, I don't think I'll do it again. Feeling the pain of what damage they can cause is not worth any rush.

226365_101..484887133_n.jpg
Preparing to shoot the sniper rifle

402052_101..147729736_n.jpg
Sniper rifle target

405383_101..197960369_n.jpg
Armed with an AK-47

422365_101..079053492_n.jpg
AK47 target

After arriving back in the city, I go to the nearbye internet cafe and check out my messages. I have a few messages from an old friend that I haven't seen in a long time. I met Julie while volunteering in Tanzania and she is sending me a message about my pictures from Chernobyl the day before. As it turns out she is in Kiev as well! We agree to meet the next day for beers. I head back to my hostel for another mid-day nap. A brutal reality that comes with the territory.

AC

Posted by AshleyC 09:50 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

'Sup Ukraine?

sunny 35 °C

In my life long quest for global domination, ok, I'll settle for global participation, I have now trekked to Eastern Europe. Its kind of sad that I only get to travel a few weeks a year, but having a normal life in Toronto is pretty great. I just bought a condo downtown. Recently, one of my old roommates from Australia travelled through Toronto on her way to North West Territories. I took her out to dinner.

264379_101..0_5118439_n.jpg
Jenna and I

It was Chernobyl that beckoned me this time around. The disaster that put Ukraine in the spotlight in April 1986 is not a seen as a tourist attraction for most, but I disagree. I find equally as much value in lands of human suffering, as I do in lands of prosper.

Getting there was a journey in itself. With lower taxes added onto ticket sales, I decided to depart via Buffalo this time around. I thought it would only ad an hour or two onto my travels, as it had in the past, but I was wrong this time. It was a good five hours sitting on the Peace Bridge waiting to get to customs. Then it was atleast another two of trying to get through customs before we were on our way to the Buffalo Airport. Then finally take off. It was a brief ride to JFK, then it was the journey to London-Heathrow. Deplaning at Heathrow and taking a bus across town Gatwick. I was finally on my last flight of the day to Kiev. After 2 buses, 3 flights who the hell knows how many miles, I land in Kiev pretty late at night. I make my ritual commute to the nearest ATM to withdraw some local currency to get to the city. It spits out my card without giving me any cash. At this point I'm to tired to be frustrated. I head to another one, still nothing. There is one more in the arrivals terminal. Surely it has to work. Nada! Apparently foreign cards just don't jive well with Ukrainian banks. Ok, I should panic right now, right? I take look in my wallet and I have about 20 Canadian Dollars, 10 American and 10 Euros. I head to the exchange counter take whatever I can get. I have just enough for a bus ride into the city and maybe one night at my hostel. But there is a big problem, I have to pay my Chernobyl tour guide when they pick me up first thing in the morning. And this is my one shot to go at all.

I buy a ticket for the bus and contemplate how I'm going to solve this. Shouldn't be too hard. I've gotten myself in hot water before and I always manage get myself out of it. I soon board the tiny bus and it takes off to the city of Kiev. I get off at the a subway station and decide to take it to the hostel. One problem, the track is under construction between the station where I happen to be and the one I want to be at. I take a seat on the steps of the station and people watch the crowds around me. Mostly street hawkers trying to peddle tiny trinkets and do-dads. I start watching a teenage boy spinning a glow in the dark yo yo when I see a young, slightly James Dean looking cabbie on the street. I ask him how much to get to my desired intersection. Much more then I can really afford with the cash I do have. I explain to him my predicament. He tells me his mother works at a bank. He gets on the phone with her to see if there is someway around this. He tell me she knows of some banks that are traveller-friendly. We agree that he'll take me to some and assuming the plan works, and I'll pay him after. If it doesn't, we'll swan dive off that bridge when we get to it. So we drive around town in the middle of the night going from bank to bank. The first few attempts were not successful. Exhausted, we see a tiny, unassuming ATM on the side of a near condemned building. Bewildered, I walk across the street. I can barely keep my eyes open as I put my card in the machine. SUCCESS!!!! I am able to finally, after hours of trial and failure, take out money. I take out enough to pay the cabbie, the hostel, and for my excursion tomorrow. He takes me to my hostel which isn't too far away. I pay him a little extra for his kindness and head inside.

Exhausted, hungry and sweaty in the early August night, I check in. He takes Sapphire and walks me upstairs. I have to pull myself up the handrails just to put one foot ahead of the other up the steps. He shows me my bed and shows me where the washrooms are. I immediately without a second though, pull my wash bag and towel out and head to the showers. I can taste the strong, salt on my skin as the water runs down my face. I wrap my newly washed hair into a turban and put on a tank top and underwear. Typical hostel etire. I climb the bunk bed and fling myself on it. I only have about 6 hours before I have to get up for the Chernoble tour. Drat, this is the kind of night where you want to sleep indefinitely. I set my alarm, put in my ear buds with with my sleep inducing playlist, and hit the lights.

I'm up somewhat early for a vacation day. I put on the clothes I have for the tour. Do the the radiation, long sleeves and pants must be warm. Even in the middle of the summer. I suck it up and put on the pants and a tank top. I put the long sleeved shirt in my day sack and head out the door. I pass a grocery store on the way. I decide to pop in for some much needed breakfast, water and snacks. I head to the hotel several blocks a way where we all meet to head to the town of Pripyat. The sight where most of the damage took place. I sit on the steps of the hotel and begin to inhale my yogurt and croissant. The guide meets us. I really want to get into the van and take a little cat-nap. After the last day and a half that I've had, I think I've earned it.

I manage to get little more shut eye before we enter the town of Pripyat.

large_488383_101..900581_n_1_.jpg

In my life, I have seen alot of places history makes us wish we could forget. Dachau, Pompeii, Auschwitz to name a few. All communities that have been greatly affected by one form of extreme catastrophe or another. That if they could go back in time and have a do-over, they'd do it in heartbeat. But do-overs aren't real. We play the hand we're dealt to the best of our capabilities and move forward.

That is what the residents of Pripyat, a Ukrainian town near the Belarus border were forced to do April 26, 1986. During a safety test, a sudden power surge caused reactor four to emit a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and covering an extensive stretch of land. At the time, residents were far enough away from the plant to not have any immediate knowledge of the explosion. Over the course of a few hours, several people fell ill with headaches, vomiting, and metallic tastes in their mouths.

The following day, residents were forced to evacuate the town. It was believed that the evacuation would only last about 3 days, so many residents left most of their personal belongings. Which are still there to this day.

526976_101..341730063_n.jpg
A nursery school

432089_101..976365886_n.jpg
Abandoned movie theatre

427483_101..726195040_n.jpg
Footprints of people fleeing from the town through wet cement

420109_101..915221630_n.jpg
Abandoned apartment building

311772_101..456846993_n.jpg
The guide checking radiation levels with a docimeter

309222_101..018894557_n.jpg
A child's doll

269773_101..262084298_n.jpg
2 metre long catfish

385523_101..466837520_n.jpg
Checking my own radiation levels before going to lunch at the canteen. All good!

After a long day of wandering around Pripyat, during which i fall asleep in the bus twice (jet lag can be quite the little bugger!), I head back to my hostel in eager anticipation for the next day.

Can you guess what it is? If you know me at all, you'll be very surprised!

AC

Posted by AshleyC 08:12 Archived in Ukraine Tagged eastern europe chernobyl Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 134) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 9 10 .. »