Nuclear Wasteland…

Allright, so we did some stupid stuff in the past, we are still doing silly things nowadays, but what we did that day was probably one of the most “not done” things a sane person would do… Drive to and through the Soviet Union’s numero uno Nuclear Testing Site.

This place is known as the Semipalatinsk Polygon in Kazakhstan and has the same size as Belgium. Semipalatinsk was the Russian name for nowadays Semey and until 1990 it was a “closed” city, which means that it didn’t exist on maps and nobody was allowed in or out this area except some really high ranking officials. All measures so that the world wouldn’t know about their existence. If you know that there were 220.000 people living there, the true meaning of a closed city becomes more clear…

In 40 years time, the Soviets did 456 Nuclear tests in this area, in total it equals 2500 Hiroshima bombs! Still up this day a lot of craters and lakes are still there to remember what horrifying things have happened here. This was all done without any evacuation of population and up to this day people live in this highly contaminated area, as they are too poor to afford to go away…

The only sign to warn people that you are entering a danger zone, is in Kazakh and Russian. The total area is 18.000 square km big and we just had to leave a sticker on this very particular sign:

Remains of buildings and everyday life can still be found in this area, although population is very limited:

The Soviets wanted to see how test were going, and also they wanted to see the effects on all kinds of structures, so they build bunkers, houseblocks and even an underground subway just to see what damage a Nuke would do to it… (it was all built by prisoners from the Gulag system by the way)

Honestly, the place gave us the kreeps, certainly that we found a dead horse along the track. Of course we will never know if there’s a correlation between these two, but still… one’s mind goes into overdrive sometimes… (I will spare you the picture though)

If you want to know exactly where this is, just type in these coordinates in google maps: N50.43803 E77.81421 and zoom out a bit and look around, you can still see all the impacts and markings.

Here’s another pic of the area with Kim riding in the enormous place:

We are now two days later and we still don’t glow in the dark, so we presume all is fine with us…

So, we made our way to the city of Kurchatov and also found some patrol, which was needed after a 250km off road trip through the steppes and the Polygon.

As it was getting late, we found a café for some food and when finished I asked the lady of we were allowed to pitch our tent in her garden, which she allowed after assessing that we were no threat to her or her family. Of course after a while they all came to see us and take pictures…

Next day would be a short ride of about 150km to Semey to find a hotel to rest (and update this blog…), clean the bikes and give them an oil change. But not after still some nice encounters:

And we even got ‘honked’ and waved at by the army! The sign the guy is doing we got it all over the place, everywhere we went people were wishing us good luck on our journey…

After a while we found the motorcycle specialist of the place, and motorcycle language is universal so I found all I needed for the bikes. But trying to change the oil in the middle of the street is not so easy, as all people will try to chat with you and give their advice about how to do it.

The bikes needed a proper wash, as they haven’t been washed since we left Belgium 6500km ago… The bikes were happy and we (me and my eyes) also…

Looking like new!

So today ‘it’s already past 2AM in the meanwhile, we should get across the border to Russia to go through the Altai region in direction of Mongolia… So it will be our last night (for now) in Kazakhstan (and it’s raining) but we’ll be back after Mongolia to explore more of this fascinating country! And I’ll let Kim do the typing again from tomorrow on… 😉

Jul 2 2013

  1. wat jullie allemaal tegen komen is ongeloofelijk funny zene
    alleen dat kimpie moet huilen vind ik erg
    sebbie zal ze wel troosten hé
    overal zijn minder goede mensen maar ze gaven dan de helft toch terug
    die denken dat jullie stinkend rijk zijn natuurlijk
    wees voorzichtig hé
    mam en pap

    07-03-2013, 7:43 am Reply
  2. Ik hoop dat je ‘s nachts niet begint te gloeien!!!!!!!
    Iedereeen en alles gewassen en geschoren zoals men dat zegt, en dus klaar voor een volgend avontuur. Wees voorzichtig!

    07-03-2013, 9:23 am Reply

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