Tourists Start Visiting Radioactive Hulk of Chernobyl

Maxim, our tour guide, is not having a good day.

"Your bag, your bag!" he shouts across the parking lot. One of my fellow tourists has left a backpack on the ground.

"You are by the biggest radioactive leak in the world," he scolds, "and you leave your bag on the soil to pick up dust. If it is contaminated you will have to leave it in the exclusion zone."

He tails off, momentarily distracted. A Polish couple are sitting on the grass, posing happily for a photo in front of the great rusting hulk of Chernobyl. "Your trousers! Your trousers!"

Click, click, goes the Geiger counter.

Twelve of us are here for the Chernobyl tour. Nine Poles, a couple from Kentucky and myself. Maxim assures us that we are safe.

"Maybe two or three visitors become contaminated every year," he says. "They are always the ones who are most afraid."

Maxim has this theory about radiation, you see. He thinks it's like children and animals -- it gets you only if it knows you're scared.

• Click here to read the rest of this story in the Times of London.

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