A trip to Ukraine without seeing the site of the Chernobyl reactor and the ghost towns around the area is a huge loss. These towns had been deserted since the tragedy struck in 1986 during the rule of President Gorbachev. This was a guided tour where I was travelling with a group in a minivan. Throughout our journey to Chernobyl, a TV documentary kept reminding us of the history of the nuclear leak and why it happened behind the scene as the USSR delayed in announcing that the nuclear reactor had exploded causing harmful radiation to leak in the neighbouring area.
Our van drove past deserted villages which were evacuated 36 hours after the leak was detected. These villages remain haunted with wrecked kindergarten and a ramshackle coffee house bearing testimony to what had occurred here in 1986. The world was up in arms as politicians debated the cause to the nuclear leaks in global conferences. My guide was rather young and almost teenage-looking blonde Ukrainian girl bubbling with energy as she spoke about the history of the village. We then checked the radiation level of the place with our radiation meter. To my relief, we were in the safe radiation zone.
Next stop was the reactor number three at the Chernobyl nuclear plant which was the reactor that exploded. Lead was thrown into the hot spot of the nuclear explosion so that it could melt and seize the core of the fire that arose from the explosion. The ghost town of Pripyat was where we walked into the remains of a dilapidated cinema hall near the hall of a desolate park staring alone into the sky. There was a huge merry-go-round at the centre of the park but it was dead, the whole place looked dead and grey.
There was also sheer monuments, statues, emblems and walls celebrating and hounding the valour of men who not only saved themselves but also others from getting sick from the radiation that played havoc in this area. Chernobyl was and is a ghost town, a macabre site keeping a national tragedy in which thousands died alive. It is also a nice way of making money from foreign tourists. At the end of the tour, we had to stand on these machines that would take away any harmful radiation we could have contacted during our visit.
I walked over to the other side of the road to buy a sniper bar and a t-shirt with Chernobyl written on it with bold yellow letters. We had spent more than 12 hours exploring all facets of this tragedy and by the end of it, I felt exhausted. I even missed the last walk into the town just before we departed. All in all, this landmark was worth exploring. It is grave well-preserved of a tragedy that the USSR tried to keep quiet. Tall and huge airwave radars reminded us that once this used to be a very important and strategic town which has gone quiet forever frozen in time. It reminded us of the USSR of old.