Wish you were here?
The Vice Guide to Travel
“If anybody comes to my side, I will definitely kill him,” warns Pakistani government agent Naeem Afridi as he escorts Vice magazine writer and co-founder Suroosh Alvi through the Khyber Pass toward Darra, the largest illegal-arms market in the world. Darra is a rugged, mountainous expanse along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border—you know, the place where Osama bin Laden purportedly lives on dialysis in a state-of-the-art cave. All foreign reporters are banned from the region, which is why Vice’s presence is such a journalistic coup. At the medina in the tribal region, pre-pubescent boys construct Kalashnikov AK-47s with their bare hands—one can be yours to keep for a cool 50 bucks!
The Vice Guide to Travel offers several vignettes featuring the magazine’s writers and editors satisfying joneses for radical tourism in the nether regions of the world, replete with a camera crew to document their exploits. Correspondent David Choe braves the dense rain forests of the Congo to find Mokele mbembe, rumored last of the dinosaurs; he ends up tripping out after drinking a psychedelic elixir during a tribal ritual in a remote Pygmy village—very Joseph Conrad. Actor David Cross eats dog in Shanghai, correspondent Trace Crutchfield gets shot at by police in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, writer Derrick Beckles goes to a Nazi commune in Paraguay, and Vice co-founder Shane Smith bids on a dirty-bomb warhead in Sofia, Bulgaria. These are hardly your average Eiffel Tower, Tate Modern, Tuscan-getaway vacations.
The best trip of all, however, is when Smith and sexy Vice writer Pella Kågerman go to Chernobyl, enduring both a 29-hour train ride and also radiation 20,000 times stronger than acceptable exposure levels. The duo drink wine (to build an immunity to the radiation, of course) and trounce around in radioactive boots while hunting “changed” six-eyed boars near the Prypiat forest—I say near because if you actually enter the bleak expanse, you will die.
Vice Guide is possibly the best postcard ever.