Rio is a model of urbanity gone very, very wrong. The rich live in 20-storytall seashells on white sand beaches and the poor live in dense, dirty slums where murdering your rival drug lord is as common a chore as taking out the trash. We took a tour and partied a little bit in the City of God favela.
Twenty years after the nuclear reactor explosion in Chernobyl, we journeyed there to see the state of things in a town that now has a higher population of mutated wolves and bears than it does people. We visited the site itself and watched our Geiger counter’s readings go through the roof. Nuclear energy is clearly not the future, as the abandoned schools and empty homes of Chernobyl attest.
Deep in the jungles of Paraguay lies the failed Aryan utopia of Nueva Germania. Founded by Friederich Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth in the 1880s and a refuge for Nazi “Angel of Death” Dr. Joseph Mengele after WWII, the original German population there has now dwindled to two toothless brothers who live in abject poverty and are rumored to be cannibals. We went to Nueva Germania to see the end of the family line.
The largest illegal arms market in the world is in Darra, Pakistan. We took our team out there—it’s just a short distance from the storied Khyber Pass—and saw the genesis of the guns that mujahideen from around the Muslim world are buying to fight the American army in Afghanistan. We even tried a few out a few handmade AK-47s.
Sources as reputable as Scientific American and the BBC believe that there may still be dinosaurs in the most remote jungles of the Congo. We sent some amateur cryptozoologists out there to look for the creature the local pygmies call Mokele-mbembe, or “he who stops the flow of rivers.” What they ended up experiencing in the Heart of Darkness has to be seen to be believed.
Bulgaria is the world’s portal for black-market weapons. Its abandoned nuclear plants are a veritable garden of material for illegal bombs. We traveled to the squalid gypsy camps of the capital city of Sofia and the luxury resorts on the Black Sea to see the effects of capitalism in overdrive—where everything is for sale—to meet a criminal-turned-real-estate-mogul who met with Osama bin Laden and sold a dirty bomb to French journalists.
The VICE GUIDE TO TRAVEL is the first installment in VICE magazine’s DVD series. The series will feature short documentaries arranged around a different theme. Each DVD will be packaged in a 72-page full-colour book. It’s VICE magazine come to life. For this edition we went to the kinds of places that nobody else wants to visit. We traveled to the corners of the world where news is happening, the forgotten locales where strange people and stories lie and where history is being made every day. This is the VICE idea of a vacation.
Beirut can’t win. It had barely recovered from the tragic effects of a 15-year-long civil war and now it is the target of daily bombardments by the Israeli Air Force. Just before the bombing started we met with the notorious al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in the city’s Palestinian refugee camps. We also sang and danced with the Fateh Boy Scouts, children who are being groomed to be the suicide bombers of tomorrow.