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GES228 - Kiev Factory Basements

On arriving in Kiev, I only had one contact, the lovely GE084. However it wasn't long before we bumped into other shadowy figures of the Kiev underworld, not least the erratic GE087, who reminded me a lot of a certain UK explorer who dips in and out of police cells in the UK and France, GE042. He had clearly invested himself in exploring all Kiev had to offer, and we ended up in all sorts of weird and wonderful places. Usually beneath a formidable old apartment block. He announced in his pretty good staccato English that he was a 'Digger.' A Russian name for those that explore below the surface.

On our final night together, we met up at a metro station south of the centre. The snow that lay all about, deep and crisp and even, was slowly melting as the temperature heard we were leaving, and crept over freezing on the thermometer. Hence sizeable puddles of water lay everywhere. We wandered around, and eventually ended up in some park, where the snow was still deep and covered everything. GE087 bounced through the snow and managed to locate the lid he needed under the snow, albeit with help from the small shovel that GE088 carried around. Obviously a useful tool for subterranean explorers in Wintery Eastern climes. The assembled group, about 8 of us, all dropped down the small drain access shaft. At the base was a small pipe leading off to the River Klove we were told. Apparently someone managed to squeeze through the pipe for 20m, to get to a bigger drain!?! Turning around from the small pipe, was this trapezoid tunnel that was also about 20m long. It involved a bit of stooping, but wasn't that bad.

This lead into a smaller tunnel, again about 20m long, that had some amazing colours where water had leaked minerals in. I had to use full crouching to get through, but it wasn't too much trouble. Thinking this couldn't be any worse, we were then shown the next tunnel, who's ceiling barely came up to my knee! This would involve full on crawling, with a bag full of camera gear to push through ahead of me. If that wasn't bad enough, I had to deal with a thick pipe that ran through the same small tunnel. And then, I had to deal with Mr. whinypants behind me, GE002. Who wasn't short of offering his objections to lugging a bag through a tiny crawlspace, in language as colourful as the previous tunnel, seen below.

The end of the tiny crawlspace involved a tight squeeze around a right angle, and then up into the building. Here was where we caught up with the others who weren't so encumbered by camera bags and tripods.

All good, we set off to explore the basements. The locals said they'd been here over 20 times and it was something of a hangout for Diggers. A shot down the corridor that runs mostly straight under the factories.

Steel gates section off the different parts of the basement or factories. The temptation to turn the valve wheel is always there, always...

Feeding off the main corridor were lots of rooms used mainly now for dumping stuff from the factories above. My companions filter through the items dumped on the floor.

GE087 was quite the fan of group shots, and I got lumbered into taking one, hence why it's pretty bad quality.

Another ramshackle room filled with odds and ends. I rather liked the colours, which I would say are pretty unique to former Eastern Bloc countries.

We pushed on through the corridors, more rooms investigated and rummaged through.

A room with still working lights, and various bits of equipment laying about, a graveyard to the constant advancement of technology.

Off to the side from the room above, a number of gauges had been dumped.

One of the group was understood to be a whizz with electronics, and attempted to disable an alarm. The assembled group looked on as he worked at the top of the stairs. He apparently managed to disable one, and a couple of the locals went for a look, but someone was spotted and they came rushing down the steps. "Security, run!" We duly obliged, and raced through the corridors. I was at the back trying to pack up a camera and tripod while running past low pipes on the ceiling and other obstacles. I never saw any security chaps, and I was the last into the tunnels. Either way, we were out of there.

After listening to GE002 whinge his way down the crawl tunnel, and then the crouch tunnel, it was a pleasant air that followed in the crouching tunnel. And before long we were climbing back into the crisp and cold night air. We all then walked down to the main square, slipping and sliding as we did so. And then said our goodbyes. GE002 and GE074 returned home to the equally cold and miserable UK, I linked up with my girlfriend of the time, to get a train in the middle of the night down to Moldova for a short break.

Big thanks to GE084, as well as GE087 and GE088 for showing us around.