“One of the things that makes the location so unique and so amazing is that you can be there in broad daylight, out in the open, and still feel very vulnerable,” Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli told Vulture about the location of his new film Chernobyl Diaries.
He produced the supernatural tale that takes place in Prypiat — an abandoned Ukrainian city near the location of the deadly Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster that devastated residents in 1986. Peli described how the threat of radiation and the location’s eerie, remote atmosphere made it the perfect place to set his new found footage horror film. In the movie, a group of tourists venture to the city on an extreme vacation, but soon discover they’re not alone.
These bizarre vacation destinations aren’t just hot spots in cinema. People travel to Pripyat in real life for adventurous and surreal experiences. We discovered other unusual vacation getaways for your perusal past the break. Feel free to mention your favorite strange destination below.
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There are young people living on the fringes of the “forbidden zone” encircling the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Twenty-five years after the mass evacuation, scattered villages and towns still linger on the fringes of the contaminated region and its young people have nothing to do, so they party. The stagnant economy, the devastated farmland, unemployment, isolation — these drives send a crowd of despondent locals and Kiev visitors to travel to Ivankov, a main city in the third contaminated zone, home of the Antalys discotheque. They drink. They dance. They fight until they draw blood. Master photojournalist Guillaume Herbaut spent a Saturday Evening in Chernobyl. Here are some of our favorite shots, but for an immersive experience, head over to his site for a soundtracked, high quality slideshow. It’s as close as we dare to get.
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Twenty-five years since the Chernobyl disaster, people are slowly returning to the restricted “Zone.” Yes, it’s still radioactive, but people come to maintain it, document it, and exploit it for thought provoking projects. One such visitor is photographer Alex Cheban, who focused on the abandoned town of Pripyat and its haunting graffiti.
There are patterns to the ghost town graffiti “scene.” Unsettling silhouettes of children reach for light switches in rotting buildings and play on the tallest roof in Pripyat. There are flowers blooming on the walls of the most hollowed out urban ruins. There’s even a glimmer of dark humor in the graffiti tribute to the indestructible roach, now ruling over the town’s unfinished parks and empty streets, crawling over rusted barrels and smashed billboards. See more post-Chernobyl graffiti in our gallery.
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The only funny photograph in Jenny Norris’ exhibit After Chernobyl, on display at the Ukrainian Institute in Manhattan until April 30, shows an old man with a sign around his neck reading (in Ukrainian) “Careful! Radioactive!” The story behind the shot isn’t very funny, though. The man was a former liquidator, one of around 800,000 miners, firefighters, soldiers and doctors sent to clean up the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant after an explosion on April 26, 1986 released a giant cloud of radioactive debris into the atmosphere. Norris found him in Kiev, where he and 2,000 other liquidators were protesting steep cuts to their medical compensation. Studies suggest that thousands — and perhaps hundreds of thousands — of these men will die from ailments caused by exposure to radioactivity at the site.
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