Archive | November 2012

They say bad things come in 3’s

When my Ukrainian taxi driver showed up ten minutes late he asked when my flight was. As he had a little over 30 mins to do a 40min journey and was faced with bad traffic he floored it. In Ukraine, drivers are crazy anyway, which I think is odd as the driver will always been the one prosecuted if an accident happens even if he is not at fault.

So my taxi driver must have changed lanes a million times and then even drove through a petrol station to avoid a red light. I’m still alive and didn’t miss my flight so well done to him.

I then had to fly on a Fokker. Anyone who has journeyed on this plane knows how scary that is, it sounded like a 30year old motor that hadn’t been serviced in years. My mind went to dark places.

And finally I had one more flight to Amsterdam but when we arrived we were not cleared to land and the pilot decided to tell us that we could not land but we were running out of fuel ….. WHAT, WHY DID YOU TELL US THAT.

So Ukraine = safe
Transport = risk your life

Daily update from Ukraine 13/11/12

Today I was a little lazy.

I repacked my bag, which took me so long due to the over buying of vodka and gifts of walnuts. I think this may even send me over my baggage allowance but I will not find out until I get to the airport.

I also met with Sasha one last time and he gave me copies of his family documents, which show how the Soviets imprisoned his grandfather and the found him not guilty after he had already died. I also got a copy of another families documents of a similar nature.

I have booked my last transport home too, so I know I will finally get to see my wonderful family at 20.00 on Friday.

This will be my last post for this trip. Tomorrow I will fly at 19.00, stay in Latvia for 12 hours and fly into Schiphol on the 15th. Followed by a near 12 hour coach ride the next day to London, bring on Friday night.

Thanks for following my trip.

Daily update from Ukraine 12/11/12

Hello Chernobyl.

I never thought I would ever go to this place but today I fulfilled a dream.

We all know what, where, how and why so I will not explain the history but what I will say is: I would recommend this place to everyone.

You can see the new casing being built for  reactor No 4 as the one housing it now will no longer work efficiently by 2016. This means the builders have to complete the project on time and we all know, no matter what country you come from that this is an impossible task for all builders.

The food in the canteen is amazing, they really know how to feed people in Ukraine and as anyone who is interested in this places knows, all the food is brought in.

Over 3,000 people work here and some older Ukrainians have returned to there homes and have lived in Chernobyl for years. These people have their own currency….. moonshine 🙂 you have to love the spirit of these people.

The place is also home to horses, lynx, wild boar, vipers and wolves, so if you are just as interested in the wildlife, I suggest you pick a time of year you are more likely to see these things. Although maybe avoid breading season. I was lucky as I saw a wild horse and they have not been seen by the guides for a long time because it is getting colder.

I would also like to add that if you would like to see this place, sooner is better than later as they believe that none of the building will still be standing in a few years to come. There was a large section of the school in Pripyat that collapsed this time last year and some tourists fell through the floor in one of the other buildings, which just goes to show how unstable this place has become.

Daily update from Ukraine 11/11/12

Had another productive day today. I went back to visit Sashas grandmother as she was happy for me to take a photograph of her and I am so glad she changed her mind, you will see why when you see the photograph. Beautiful woman. I was also given an extensive amount of walnuts and when I say extensive I mean like 2kg or maybe 3kg.

After this visit I went to interview the mayor of the town. He is working really hard to change the place for the better and aiming most of his efforts at changing the place for the children. I must add here that this is an unusual situation, most political figures are only out for themselves but this man is different.

He has opened a gym, so the children can take part in boxing, wrestling and football. He is also fighting to re-open the swimming pool that the last mayor turned into a shop (this made him more money) and he is not corrupt and again I must not this is unusual. I am hoping to spread the word of this mans work and if anyone is interested in knowing more then feel free to ask.

I was then fed even more delicious food by Sasha’s mother before we headed back to Kyiv.

Daily update from Ukraine 10/11/12

Today I woke at 3.30am and was picked up outside the hostel a little after 4am by Sasha and his family. We then drove for over 5 hours to the town in which he grew up.

We arrived at his mothers house around 9.30. She treated us to a wonderful breakfast before we set off again to see the famous train station and interview his grandmother, who is a survivor of Holodomor. I wish I could explain just how wonderful this family is, every last one of them was kind, generous, open and friendly to me. Even with the language barrier, they fussed over me and made me feel so welcome.

Later in the day I met a man and his four children who are suffering today. (Sasha’s family also help him, they are not rich people but they have the biggest hearts of anyone I know.) I was told his story, it was a hard one to hear as I felt guilt for being given a better situation in my life but it is a story that needed to be told. I have promised him gifts for his children, (clothes and sweets,) nothing fancy but I was touched by his courage and hardworking nature and I believe he deserves some relief even if it is only small. I also took some photos of his children, which will be printed out and given to him, as he has no photos of his family.

We then returned to Sasha’s mums, after a few more detours on the way back and I was again greatly fed. It was delightful to eat home cooked food and be looked after so well.

But the faces of the four children have been swimming around my head all day. I just want to sit with them and give them the longest hug. I wanted to explain to them that life will not always be like this and that they will always be loved. And I wanted to tell their father how amazing he was for not giving up, it must be so easy to turn to drink or death when life is so rough everyday but he doesn’t. The love he has for his children is bigger than that and I stand in ore at the internal beauty of this family.

I am humbled by this country and its people.

 

Daily update from Ukraine 9/11/12

Today I made it the the Chernobyl Memorial Museum. It is small but very informative and it worth a visit by anyone who comes to Kyiv.

In England we know a lot about this part of Ukraine’s history because it affected us and personally I am interested in this area for a few reasons:

One: It happened a few weeks before I was born, so it is living history.

Two: It is the biggest disaster of its kind.

Three: It is connected to the Urbex movement, which I have been apart of for many years.

Each time I read about this, the shock is always the same and I was not even connected to the devastation. I can not even imagine the heartache felt by the people of Chernobyl and surrounding villages but I am proud to see that it is talked about and not hidden away like a dirty secret. We can but learn from our inevitable mistakes.

 

I will not be updating my blog tomorrow as I will be in a rural village but I will return to the city late Sunday night and if I am not to exhausted I will write up a two day blog.

Daily update from Ukraine 8/11/12

OK so I did not make it to Chernobyl Museum….. I was hungover.

I am kicking myself for getting drunk, nothing bad happened but I had put myself in a very vulnerable situation. Not only that, I have lost a whole day nursing a sore head and that is not professional.

So, tomorrow I will be going to Chernobyl Museum and I will be staying with Sashas family on farm land over the weekend, followed by Chernobyl on Monday. The next 4 days will keep me busy.