Archive for the abu dhabi Category

August 31: Chernobyl

Posted in abu dhabi, Apartment buildings, Chernobyl, Cinema, Fire Station, Ghost towns, Hospital, Jail, Jupiter Factory, Morgue, Police Station, Pripyat, Radioactivity, River port, Schools, Soviet Union, Travel, Ukraine, Vacation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2016 by Amanda

We began this morning by visiting the morgue.  It was a fairly small, but quite interesting, building located near the hospital.  They also did cremations here.  The morgue was very dark.  There is also a small, overgrown cemetery right nearby; so, a one-stop death experience!

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One of the morgue’s two autopsy rooms.

Then it was time to explore the rather large hospital which consisted of one main building and a smaller building somewhat hidden off to the side.  I think the hospital was my favourite place in Pripyat.  I did manage to see most of it but I moved around pretty fast.  I think one could easily spend an entire day here.  The variance in conditions between different areas of the hospital was almost unbelievable.  I saw an office with pristine medical journals and rooms with unopened, undamaged vials of medicine and perfect-looking pills; conversely, there were hallways that were barely navigable because of all the debris and rooms with grass growing through the floors.  Of course, most areas were somewhere in between in terms of their condition.

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One of the hospital’s less hospitable hallways.

There were plenty of unexpected sights in the hospital including chest x-ray film and a very new teddy bear sitting on a chair which had obviously been left relatively recently.  There was a table were abortions were performed complete with illustrations; abortions were apparently the only birth control option in the Soviet Union.  There were also some very interesting signs and what appeared to be medical records.  In a way I wished I could be read them but on the other hand that would have likely distracted me and I wouldn’t have seen so much of the hospital.

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The chest x-ray film.

The basement was sealed off at some point because it is very radioactive as that is where the firefighter’s clothes were taken off.  There was one piece of quite radioactive cloth in the lobby that we were warned not to touch but otherwise the hospital was quite safe.

Then we quickly visited School #1.  Parts of its roof have collapsed.  I never would have contemplated entering the building alone but the guide knew the safer places to go in.  Still, we were only in there quite briefly.  I was told the roof had collapsed because of a design flaw.  Nevertheless the way things are deteriorating I’m doubtful that the buildings will still be safe to enter in even a few years.

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School #1

Next was a fairly quick visit to another apartment building.  This building had an interesting design where there were a bunch of exterior doors which each led to a staircase inside which led to just three apartments on each floor.  The building also was of surprisingly varied condition.  I wasn’t comfortable interesting some of the apartment because of the state of their floors whereas others were totally okay.  When I left the building, I could still hear the floor creaking and no one was instead the building!

Then we went to see the river port.  This consisted of a terminal, a milk bar (aka snack bar), and a dock.  There were also rusted pop machines outside.  It was obviously once a really beautiful place, especially because of the stained glass mural windows.

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Part of the river port building.

Then I walked over to a building that had a cinema on one side and a music school on the other.  The cinema was very dark.  The music school was only navigable in a certain way as some of the floors were the most frightening I’d seen.

After lunch (at the power plant again) we tried to go the Jupiter Factory but there were some military-type people there so the driver very quickly turned around and we went to the police station/jail instead.  The holding cell there was well-lit but the rest of the cells were in total darkness.  There were some documents in the police station but they were apparently rather mundane (eg. accounting documents).  The important documents were apparently removed before Pripyat was even evacuated!

Behind the station there was a garage where vehicles had been driven onto the roof to prevent them from being vandalized; that was not an effective strategy though!  There were also plenty of vehicles on the ground including one that starts a video game called Stalker; this video game is apparently the impetus for some people to visit Chernobyl.

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Garage with vehicles on its roof.

After a brief stop at the fire station, we were able to go see the Jupiter Factory.  It is not visited often, by tourists at least.  Despite being there for about three hours, there were buildings I didn’t even enter.  There was just a lot to see!  The official story was that this was a factory that made radios.  However, few radios were ever produced and there was plutonium there; so, it really made weapons. The underground secret labs were flooded with water.  This place was in use long-after the disaster (until 1994).I wasn’t initially sure that this place would be all that interesting but it was fascinating and huge; there was much more than just machinery.  There were offices, what looked like at least occasional living spaces, a cafeteria et cetera.  There were also plenty of interesting signs and furniture.  I also found a lot of something called polysorbum which is a medical product used to absorb metals.

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Flooded secret underground lab.

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Some of the furniture in the factory.

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Just a few of the many, many bottles of polysorbum.

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Not NOT in Abu Dhabi

Posted in abu dhabi, Travel with tags , on January 5, 2011 by Amanda

For this post only, the new title of my blog is wrong as I am actually in Abu Dhabi. I’m leaving at 2:30am tomorrow morning so my departure is getting quite near.

I got through immigration at 11:30pm on January 1. As this visa rules changed on January 2, I was really cutting it close. The immigration guy made a point of telling me if I had come half an hour later I would not have been allowed in without a prearranged visa. My flight here left on time and was scheduled to land a bit early throughout. I did have a bit of a scare when there were announcements on the plane asking for doctors and then nurses or paramedics (I guess there weren’t any doctors on board the plane); I was worried that they might have had to land the plane because someone was really sick. I know that was a bit irrational as I’ve been on a plane with a similar announcement before and the plane arrived just fine but I was not really convinced I’d get into Abu Dhabi.

I really haven’t been doing much here. I went to Dubai as well. I am really ready to just be out of here but I’m sure I’ll soon be very, very bored at home.

Melaka

Posted in abu dhabi, Malaysia, Melaka, Travel with tags , , , on December 28, 2010 by Amanda

Melaka

Melaka has been pretty much what I expected it to be which is a very historic place with too many tourists. It seems to be a very popular destination for huge family groups; this may be simply because of the time of year. I find it annoying when these groups of people decide to take pictures in front of a place in every possible permutation of family members!

A common sight in Melaka

The historic part of the city is quite compact as easy to walk around, distance-wise at least; I think this is the hardest place yet on this trip for crossing the street. I went on an interesting river cruise and also walked along the very nice pathway along the river (which is a very easy place to walk!). My knee is fine for walking but does bother me a little on stairs. I went to a few of the gazillion museums located here. I eventually decided to go on the Menara Taming Sari which looks like a tower when the seating area is at the top. It is a revolving ride and I was a bit reluctant to go on it because it looks so touristy and non-historic. I actually really enjoyed the view from up above the city. The old parts of the city looked even older from above and I was a bit surprised to see just how big the city is in total.

Menara Taming Sari

I’m off to Singapore tomorrow. It has become clear that I’m stuck with the flight out on January 1 and that is a bit worrying because of the arrival time. I would think that anyone with a flight originally scheduled for that date wouldn’t think of getting a visa just in case the flight came in late. The date it is supposed to arrive must be something, right? The good thing is that I know if the flight lands on time I’ll be totally okay as there is never really immigration lines at the Abu Dhabi airport. I really need to stop worrying as everything really is out of my control but I’m unfortunately not so good at that!

A small update

Posted in abu dhabi, Frustration with tags , on December 24, 2010 by Amanda

So upon further thinking I decided to try to change my flight. As it is a reward flight, I cannot make route changes. Unfortunately the Singapore to Abu Dhabi flight isn’t a daily one and I can’t get on the December 30 flight. I was able to get on the one for January 1. However, this is still a bit of a worry because it is scheduled to land at 11:30pm and the visa rules change on January 2. It sounds like I shouldn’t have any trouble boarding the flight but who knows what will happen at immigration if it ends up being after midnight. I was told I can call back daily to see if availability occurs on the December 30 flight.

I’m a bit behind once again …

Posted in abu dhabi, Cameron Highlands, Frustration, Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Tahan, Malaysia, Taman Negara, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on December 23, 2010 by Amanda

So once again I’ve been lazy about updating what I’ve been doing. Unfortunately, I’ve now had to face the reality that it doesn’t look like the UAE government will be changing its mind about the visa. To make matters worse, getting this visa is very expensive and annoying. The visa has to be acquired through a travel agency, hotel etc. I can’t get one through Etihad because my flight to leave is on another airline. I have so far only found one travel agency that said they could get me the visa and they charge much higher prices for hotel rooms than you find on the online booking sites. With this visa you don’t have a choice but to stay in a hotel. I wish they’d at least give exemptions to people who booked their travel before this new rules were announced. If they’d been around when I left the UAE, I certainly would have taken everything with me and not planned to return! I agree with the UAE government than the Canadian government should let Etihad and Emirates fly to Canada more but these visa procedures aren’t going to accomplish anything except the UAE having virtually zero Canadian tourists! The airlines will probably not even be able to fill the flights they are allowed to have to Canada. It really just makes no sense. I’m so tempted to just find another way home but I really do need some of my stuff. I’m just so frustrated right now and this just seems so unfair! I really wish I was one of those lucky people who have more than one passport.

Anyway, I’ll try to recap what I’ve done the last few days. On my second day in the Cameron Highlands, I went on quite a good tour. I saw the Rafflesia which is billed as the world’s largest flower but it isn’t actually a flower. Anyway, this only live for a few days and it was interesting to see. The hike up to see it was very, very muddy but I managed not to fall! Despite all the mud, the hike was very enjoyable. We also stopped at a small waterfall; I didn’t think that the water was all that cold but everyone else disagreed. We also briefly visited an Orang Asli (aboriginal people) village where we saw a blowpipe demonstration; I didn’t really enjoy the visit as it was one of the those where you get the feeling the people don’t really want you there. The tour also included a visit to a tea plantation which was absolutely beautiful, a butterfly farm where the insects were much more interesting (I got to have a couple scorpions on me), and a strawberry farm.

The Rafflesia "flower"


The tea plantation

The next day, I travelled to Taman Negara which is the world’s oldest rainforest. I entered the area via an interesting boat ride and stayed across the river from Taman Negara (in a places called Kuala Tahan) as there is only one place to stay in Taman Negara and it is very expensive; it cost twice as much for a bed in a dorm there as it did for a private room where I stayed! As it is the rainy season there, the area wasn’t very crowded and some of the businesses had irregular hours. There was a fair bit of rain while I was there but there were also times with very nice, sunny weather. I only had two leech bites which I think isn’t too bad. I went on a night walk but basically we only saw insects. I did see a snake but otherwise I didn’t see more than birds and insects though there were some wild boar footprints and I did hear many animal noises. I found the park generally quite quiet and there was a very nice river to swim in. I also went on a canopy walk which is apparently the world’s longest but some of it was closed (I heard several different stories on how much was closed); regardless, it was an interesting way to see the rainforest.

Canopy walkway


The swimming area

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur today. I haven’t seen too much of the city yet but so far I like it. I definitely different to be in a city again after spending a while in places without many people or stores/restaurants. I had a Subway veggie sub this afternoon and penne primavera from Pizza Hut so I’m really making sure I try Kuala Lumpur’s cuisine! Subway did have coconut cookies which I haven’t seen elsewhere.