Visiting just one of the thousands of Britons jailed abroad can be an enriching experience for both of you, as James Hopkirk discovered
I didn’t know how I would recognise David. As the prisoners filed out of their cells and into the visitors’ compound I tried to make eye contact with any westerners as they shuffled past my window. Eventually a balding, middle-aged man pulled up a chair in front of me, picked up the telephone and introduced himself. We didn’t know each other, and until a few minutes before he didn’t even know he had a visitor. We were meeting for the first time through reinforced glass at Bangkok’s Bangkwang prison.
David is one of more than 2,500 Britons in foreign jails and for him, like many others, visits from tourists and expats constitute much of the contact he has with the outside world.
It was the scene of one of the world’s worst modern disasters, now visitors can experience this radioactive wasteland on a guided tour. Sarah Johnstone signs up
I wonder if Nikolay has seen Mad Max too many times, as he floors the accelerator and our Lada rattles along the crumbling asphalt road. Rusty fencing and unkempt grass whizzes by as we barrel towards swaying birch trees. Yuriy and I yell above Shake Your Booty on the radio. Across this broad expanse of plain, not another soul is to be seen.
For a second, it feels like taking a spin through gloriously uninhabited countryside. Then we turn and the world’s deadliest nuclear reactor looms up on the horizon. Nikolay and Yuriy are my driver and guide on one of the world’s strangest day trips – to the ‘exclusion zone’ around Chernobyl.