Archive for the ‘Ill-advised06’ Category

What the FAQ? Chernobyl questions answered.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007
Apparently this old reactor is still interesting 20 years on.

For the original Chernobyl post with video and pics go HERE
For the Chernobyl FAQ go HERE

When I first started this site a few years ago I never planned it to be any more than a dumping ground for photos. I never thought anyone other than a few friends and family, would ever come across this blog and take any interest.

That all changed when I visited Chernobyl and posted video both here on my site and on Youtube. Since then I’ve gotten a steady stream of questions ranging from “Are you nuts?” all the way to “How do I get to Chernobyl?” from random people off in internet land.

Thus in the spirit of being a good internet citizen, I’ve written a Chernobyl FAQ.

If there’s anything I failed to answer feel free to contact me.

Back in one piece. Not glowing in the dark

Thursday, September 28th, 2006
Aparently this is good news.

For anyone who cares, I’m back in Sydney in one piece.
Also, for all those well meaning people who were concerned about any radioactive contamination I was potentially eating/breathing now it the time to rest easy.
Our freinds at ANSTO (the people who run the nuclear reactor at Lucus Heights) gave me a good going over.



Yesterday they; stripped me naked, stuffed me in a small lead box and pointed a shinny probulator sort of thing at me. The results of this demeaning exercise was all good news. No contamination found. I hope this finally puts this issue to bed for everyone.

Anyway, that pretty much wraps this whole thing up.
See you all when i see you.


New York, LA, and the final wash up.

Monday, September 25th, 2006
LA international airport. Why the F#$k am i here? I dont want to be here. I want to be home.

What have i been doing in New York? Well not much really. I’ve been to NY before and only really stopped here to sleep (haven’t done much of that of late) and eat American food (lets try to forget the horrors of eastern European fare). Matt, sorry, none of your suggestions came off. Good Burger on 2nd ave one block from the UN building is a good alternative however.
This trip started with a false start, so why not end with one. After a delayed flight out of NY, I’ve now missed my connecting flight to Sydney. Thus now stuck in LA for a night. Man this hurts. Sorry to everyone that was expecting me at work on Wednesday. You will just have to keeeel me on Thursday.
Anyway, this short break is a good a time as any to wrap this whole adventure up.
There was a point to going to all these ridiculous places which I’m sure everyone has forgotten by now. It was explained at length in this post but in sort, to quote myself, it was this.
“the world really isnt as bad as it’s reported in the media and when it is, Im perfectly able to handle it”
I also quoted a lot of what the media has to say about these places. With that here’s my final word on the places i’ve been:

1.Bali, Indonesia.
Quote from the Australian Government Travel advisory

“We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, due to the very high threat of terrorist attack”

What a load of crap, for there to be a terrorist threat, you first need some people there to blow up. The place is damn near empty. So if you your looking for a tropical island with every tourist facility but a stunning lack of tourists, Bali is for you. Alternatively if your looking to raise the royal middle finger to the terrorist minority, again Bali is for you.

Alleged issues:
Appalling Human rights record, generally boycotted by most official bodies.

Discretion dictates i say nothing. Those on my mailing list know what i mean. Basically when it comes to the whole “the world really isnt that bad” thing i said earlier, Well I’m going to have to eat my words on this occasion.

3.Belarus, Former Soviet Union.
Quote from In your Pocket travel guides:

“Ah, Belarus! Stuck in the 1980s …ruled by a dictator with a cheesy moustache … 23% radioactive … what’s not to love?”

Sure Belarus does have more than it’s fair share of mullet hair do’s but it’s not that extreme, and when it comes to hair it definitely has more than it’s fair share of blond hair and blue eyes. Belarus roughly translates as “white Russiaâ€? and it shows.
As for the radioactive thing, I’ve been to the affected areas and it’s a hell of a lot better than it was 20 years ago. On top of this, Belarus at least superficially, is one of the last surviving bastions of Soviet history. Whatever you say about that history, it’s at very least interesting and it makes Belarus well worth a visit.

4.Chernobyl, Ukraine
Still very contaminated but well worth a visit. Actually I’d say it’s a must. This was the highlight for the trip, possibly the highlight from my travels generally.
My recommendation for any traveler is do some research, don the lead underwear and get on down to Chernobyl. It’s genuinely a unique travel destination and we all hope it stays unique.

Anyway, I now get on my flight to Sydney tomorrow. Should be back early Wednesday morning in time for my radioactivity contamination test. I’ll post the results here afterwards.


Friday, September 22nd, 2006

Chernobyl, here’s the one ill-advised destination that drew the most criticism. Today I visited the abandoned town of Pryprat directly next to the exploded reactor #4 as well as the reactor itself and a few surrounding areas.
First off I’m going to bore you with the science. You’ll see my Geiger counter in the video and a number of the photos. To get an idea of what the figures mean, here’s a few common doses of radiation that we all get regularly, listed from lowest to highest (these measurements I took myself):


Sitting at my desk at work 0.15 μSv/h
Enjoying the Australian sunshine 0.18 μSv/h
Using the marbled lifts 0.22 μSv/h
Maximum considered to be natural radiation 0.30 μSv/h
The international flight to get here 0.80 μSv/h



Reactor #4. 22x normal

The video and a number of the photos show readings well above any of these. Before anyone freaks out about my person safety, there’s really no cause for concern. I didn’t hang around those areas long and my total exposure for the day according to to my Geiger counter was about 0.012 mSv. About what you would get from a few days sun baking. Probably not much more than i got on the flight to get here.


Childrens play ground

Anyway, about Chernobyl. Yes it is still very contaminated and will be for many years. Many areas made the Geiger counter complain bitterly. More disturbing though is the abandoned town of Pryprat.
Much is left as it was on that day in 1986. The school menu is still up on the board, Bumper cars are still in the children’s playgrounds, medical equipment is still left in the hospital with no one to treat, pictures of Lenin are still on the walls.
It’s a stark reminder that many people died or were displaced in the disaster or got sick later on.


Bed pan, baby toy and a speculum

On the bright side, a lot of areas even very close to the reactor are now remarkably clean. Radiation levels drop every year.

Also there are many people who do live and work there for at least short periods of time. Many of these people work in often in hazardous circumstances to make the place as safe as possible. There were many hero’s on the day of the disaster and there are still many more quietly working away to this day.

Photo’s and video follow. I’d highly recommend you take the time to download the better quality version, you cant see much in the low quality preview.


Or download Windows Media High quality (near DVD) Right click, Save as..

The Caves monastery, Kiev Ukraine. A different approach to worship.

Thursday, September 21st, 2006
Kiev by night

Unlike the Buddhist monastery I visited in Myanmar (Burma), the caves monastery in Kiev has a stunning lack of jumping cats. Instead the Ukrainian Orthodox have and entirely different approach to worship. It’s here in 1051 before the church split that the monks worshiped in caves they dug themselves. When they died their bodies were placed in these caves and are still there in all their glory to this day. So today was an interesting day wandering through rather tight underground caves filled with a partly decomposed but still very much intact 1000 year old corpses. As with Burma, it was interesting to see the peoples religion in action. Ukrainian Orthodox decrees that you cross yourself three times, pray three times, touch the cask of the monk three times, kiss the glass case of the monk three times and you do this for every monk you come across. Thus the caves become a log jam of worship. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you feel about these things, i was not allowed to take pictures of said dead monks. Thus you will have to be content with the vista from above ground.

Gomel, South-East Belarus – Yet more Lenin and low level radioactivity.

Monday, September 18th, 2006

It’s around this part of Belarus the The Chernobyl explosion duped a large part of it’s radioactive load. I’ve visited a few of the still contaminated towns outside Gomel. Those of you that worry about me will be glad to hear i barley piked up a blip on the Geiger counter. Slightly higher than I’m used to, but far less that the level of radiation I got on the flight over.
Anyway, I’m going to preempt Matt who will inevitably ask what the food’s like in the comments of these posts. Matt, there is not much i want to say about Borch. Of more interest to certain friends and family members however is the food safety. I did stick the Geiger counter against most of what I ate and I’m fairly confident that it wont make me glow in the dark.
We’ll see if this Changes when I visit Chernobyl itself Tomorrow

Minsk, Belarus – Lenin, More Lenin, The KGB and a McDonald’s

Monday, September 18th, 2006
KGB headquarters

When the soviet union crumbled when i was a child, all the pictures on TV i remember were people pulling down statues of Lenin amidst great celebration. That sort of attempt to bury the past never seemed to happen here in Belarus. The old history of the Soviet era are are least here in a superficial way. Whether it be the statues or the very soviet ìfunctional brickî style of architecture. In stark contrast is the modern Belarus that grown out of this. To take that contrast to an extreme, In Minsk, There’s a McDonald’s right next door to KGB headquarters.
A few pics follow

High quality video – hooray for wireless Internet

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Taking advantage of being out of the third world for a few hours, I’ve uploaded the higher quality versions of the two Videos I uploaded before.
The high quality version are near enough DVD quality but will take a while to download. The medium quality is about one third the size but still ok’ish quality.

Edit Dispite the title of this post, i dont garentee that these videos are anything but crappy and hastily edited

Bali Video

Screen grab Download: Right click the links and “save as”. Mac users Ctrl+click
Download Windows Media High quality (near DVD)
(15MB – 4 minutes or less on broadband or up to and hour on dialup)
Download Windows Media Medium quality
(5 MB – 2 minutes on broadband or 12 minutes on dialup)
Running time: 2min

Myanmar (Burma) Video

Screen grab Download: Right click the links and “save as”. Mac users Ctrl+click
Download Windows Media High quality (near DVD)
(30MB – 8 minutes or less on broadband or up to 2 hours on dialup)
Download Windows Media Medium quality
(9 MB – 4 minutes on broadband or 40 minutes on dialup)
Running time: 4min

Myanmar video

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006
Crappy low quality video

Hi all, I leave the county in a a few hours so this will be the last post before i take extreme travel to the sub-atomic level in the former soviet union.
Before i go however I’ll take a moment to mention the people here. Rather amazenly, dispiste everything this is actually an easy place to travel, everyone is eager to help wether or not you have USD$ to offer. On top of this, dispite the dificatlies the people face is actually a safe county to visit. Never did i feel my safty was in danger and my posessions were always safe in the hands of whomever had them. Basiaclly this is a wonderful set of people.

Anyway, 4 minutes of hastily edited video is here for whoever wants it.

What do a lake, a monastery and bouncy cats have in common?

Monday, September 11th, 2006
Your new waterfront property

A few days ago i was in Bagan. One horse drawn carriage, two rickshaws, one ox cart, one plane and five bribes later i land here, Lake Inle in the eastern part of Myanmar.
There’s any number of things I’ve visited here but one highlight would have to be Nga Hpe Chaung. This monastery is partly famous for being a 150 year old Buddhist monastery built on stilts in the middle of the lake. It’s also famous because the staff who have too much time on their hands have trained the local cats to jump through hoops.
The sight of three golden Buddhas looking down upon some guy with a hoop and cats jumping through it has to be one of the more odd things I’ve seen on this trip. I really have to question if this is good Karma. None the less, the cats jump, Buddha sits, the monks meditate and i look on at this scene in bemusement.
Pics of this circus follow.