Kublai Kooks - Mongol Rally 2017
Day 12 - July 27, 2017
Chernobyl, Ukraine to Kiev, Ukraine
Countries: 15 KMs/Miles: 5297/3292
Breakdowns: 6 Time @ Borders: 13h 30m
Andy and Mike woke up early wondering if they would see the boys today. They check the Kooks epic website for the Spot tracker Millie was wearing. It was pinging Ukraine. Sweet. Near Chernobyl. Sweeet. In the middle of a field. Shit. Maybe their dead. Bodies strewn about. Skoda in flames. Who knows. But at least the tracker was working. Let's rocket there and see whats up.
Meanwhile the three other Kooks in Millie woke up to the sun beating through the widows, condensation drenching the inside surfaces. Geej and Joel upfront airplane style, John crunched in the back. They had actually slept! Now, that's being tired. Hungry, they went off the find something to eat as their only supplies of moldy bread and onions didn't wet the appetites of most. The nearby one store town only took Ukrainian Hryvnia which they didn't have. Hopefully, Mikey and Andy will bring some. Unfortunately those boys were thinking the same things. Drat!
The cars were back together and the guys felt like they hadn't seen each other in months. Big hugs all around. Chernobyl awaits!
Right on time, their tour guide Helen, showed up with their driver for the day. No chance. Kooks be driving their own cars through this barren wasteland. Millie and YACKS and gonna get radioactive! Andy and Mikey took the wheels. Going through security checkpoints, they entered the site of the biggest nuclear disaster in history. Once 50,000 people lived in this area living the good life. Then, in 1986, a couple of explosions caused a meltdown and all were evacuated in a matter of days, if they were lucky enough to not have stay to contain the disaster or fight fires.
Since then only about 1500 have returned the the exclusion zone. Loving the silence and nature. The people here are very friendly we are told. You just have to know where to go and where not to go. We found that out pretty quick when we were given radiation detectors. Beeping away, the cars roamed though the area finding radioactive hot spots. Pretty crazy. The explosion sent out radioactive particle clusters that makes your detector go through the roof if you walk over them. Long sleeves and pants are supposed to be worn at all times and no touching foliage or dirt. And don't drive over moss! All are radiation catcher mitts.
The first impression is pretty eerie, driving down the abandoned streets through derelict buildings overgrown with trees and creeping vines. Its hard not to think that you're in a movie about the apocalypse. Just waiting for zombies to surround the vehicles. Once inside the structures, the Kooks kept close, this could turn into a horror movie at any second. Shattered glass everywhere, paint peeling off walls, floor boards rotting, and a deafening silence. Knowing people left things as they were when they were evacuated and never came back. Ever.
Walking through classrooms, gymnasiums, and pools once bustling with children were void of sound and dilapidated. Watch your step, at any moment you could fall through the floor or down a hole. Shattered windows everywhere and broken beams could jab you at any second. You are given a mask to wear, you wouldn't want to breath in the nuclear dust or lead paint chips, but the Kooks didn't don them. Breath it in boys, that's the smell of asbestos. Out the window, they see a Ferris wheel. Five tickets please. (And one more for Joshy.)
The fair area is chilling. An empty amusement park leaves one feeling right creeped out. A slight wind made the rusty rides eerily creak. Enough time for this Chernobyl boy band to take an epic picture. Although rock stars worldwide, Chernobyl is where they hit it big. Where they call home. Their concerts filled with stray dogs and foxes and spiders that will give you superpowers.
The next stops were an engineer's wet dream. The massive interlocking dome built to exact specifications to tetris over ground zero. The classic nuclear cooling tower that you can walk through and catch your echos. Their tops lined with rotting wooden walkways. And the enormous antenna aptly named the Woodpecker, 20 stories high and a half a kilometer long. It was built to bounce signals off the US and warn of a nuclear attack. Though others believe it to be a gigantic James Bond villain type machine constructed to brainwash an entire nation. Whatever its purpose, it used a third of the power produced by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant at any given time. Just an antenna 'eh?! F**k!
A definite highlight on the trip. And another long day. The driving tour ended around 7pm and the boys had get to Kiev. Everyone was bagged so a real hotel was in order. Showers, real beds, a good meal, and a couple of beers with the boys. This weird 24hr medieval hotel/restaurant provided them with all. Take a little extra soap on the wash tonight gents, don't need wake up with an extra eye. End transmission.