A Pripyat Summer - Beer & Loathing in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone


Forward to the 1st Edition

Well, heir it is!

Herman Crash-Bang, 
Label Manager @ Mabel the Label,
Apia, Samoa

Forward to the 2nd Edition

By way of explanation, it is worth mentioning that our label manager - Herman “I have a Ferrari?!” Crash-Bang - is a notoriously difficult individual to track down. Or contact... Herman tends to divide his time between his Hamburg office (soon relocating to the Caymans), the international Formula 1 circuit, and his down-time summer-house in Apia, Samoa.

During his most recent sojourn to the Pacific, a lo-res PDF of the unfinished draft of this work from Mabel the Label’s Copenhagen office snailed its way through Herman’s 64k modem. We thought it perfectly clear that we sought merely to update him on the current, miserable state of the publication. As well as to secure some considerable financial assistance towards its publication and printing. Oh... and for small things like an actual layout, and colour-grading. He misunderstood. Of course. 100 copies were run off at the Apia Custom Photocopy Service. These he more or less stapled together, then mailed to a curious hodge-podge of reviewers across the globe.

Mr. Pogoa (proprietor of the photocopy store and, by his own admission, a decent, upright, Christian gentleman) took offence at some of the volume’s content and made a special edition on soft, perforated rolls of un-coated, 3-ply, recyclable paper. Some of these, too, found their way to reviewer’s desks.

Sadly, the original “published” draft was not without its fair share of inaccuracies. Some personal notes and research were lost on the night prior to our departure from the Ukraine, in a frenzied leave-taking through a dodgy Kiev casino’s toilet window. (But that’s another story.) It was therefore necessary to reconstruct these notes from memories ravaged by excesses that only a “borrowed” Platinum Master Card™ can enable. Admittedly, our first attempts achieved only a modicum of success.

However, we have striven assiduously in this the second edition (as such) to ensure the veracity of the basic information herein and to present a true and factual insight into the fascinating culture, history and traditions of the environs in and around the ancient, more-or-less abandoned city of Pripyat. 
The adventures which produced A Pripyat Summer (as well as its exquisite sequel, A Pripyat Winter) have been a significant growing and learning experience for both author, and esteemed photographer alike. (The Ukraine actually lies south-west of Russia, not east!!! Whoever would have thought...?!?!) We sincerely trust that our unpresuming, literary offering will likewise educate, enlighten, and inspire.

Jah Bozo, 
Urbex Shit-kicker @ Mabel the Label
Copenhagen, Denmark


День первый – В зоне отчуждения
Den’ pervyy – V zone otchuzhdeniya
Day 1 – Into the Exclusion Zone

Пересечение в зоне отчуждения
Peresecheniye v zone otchuzhdeniya
Crossing into the Exclusion Zone

Bathed in the fresh, bright glow of early summer, the borderlands to the Exclusion Zone are about an hours’ journey north from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, by express coach. Or under 20 minutes with our heavy-footed, state-certified driver regarding every chance encounter in traffic as paramount to a Lauda-Hunt face-off. We arrive mid-morning and well ahead of schedule at the Exclusion Zone’s borderlands.

Package tours to the area draw bus-loads of the morbidly curious from around the globe, and today is no exception.  A gaggle of Irish tourists saunter around by their bus in the exceptional weather, chatting buoyantly, and snapping pictures of the guards, the indigenous guides, and each other. 
A unique festive atmosphere dominates here at the gateway to the contaminated lands surrounding Pripyat and Chernobyl. Perhaps it is the exhilaration and anticipation of entering an area so infamous, perilous, and haunted by its historical and cultural demons; perhaps it is the warm weather and the vast expanse of the blue Ukrainian heavens. 

More likely than not, though, it is the samples of Nonicca beers and chocolates that are being surreptitiously supplied to the crowd by the entrepreneurial guides and bus chauffeurs. Numerous local foodstuffs are traditionally infused with the powerful narcotic extracted from Nonicca flowers, which, although popular among the tourists, can exact a heavy toll on the unwary.

By the time we arrive, the Irish are sucking down Nonicca like there will be no tomorrow. And for them this will probably be the case. A serious Nonicca binge will typically culminate in a deep, death-like coma lasting 24 hours or more. Hotel proprietors in Kiev and other nearby towns and hamlets are naturally delighted to accommodate the bus-loads of bug-eyed disaster voyeurs on day-trips to the Exclusion Zone as they tend not to create a disturbance (usually returning to their rooms on stretchers) and almost always stay a day or two longer than originally anticipated…

However, common sense dictates that you are at the mercies of your coach and driver when in such a state, and in Kiev tales are told in hushed whispers of theft, rape, and other unmentionable atrocities committed on the persons of the inebriated.

Even the pimping of the comatose to the Bezkozlie (the so-called “Goatless”) for small change is not unheard of, despite it being a capital offence throughout the Ukraine.
Understandably, we’ve chosen an accredited state-run tour with a friendly, reliable driver with Formula 1 aspirations, and an informative, forthright and charming guide - Boris and Natasha respectively.

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