A 'Vice' Vacation Without Leaving Home

ByABC News

Dec. 5, 2006 — -- The folks from Vice magazine want to take you along on the trip of a lifetime, but be forewarned, it is not for a faint of heart.

How about a trip to the gunpowder-fueled black market in untamed Pakistan? If that does not suit your fancy, maybe a hunt for radioactive wild animals near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster would be more your style.

Don't be frightened (and leave your Fodor's and Frommer's at home). "The Vice Guide to Travel" is a video designed to take you to places you're probably too afraid to visit on your own.

Watch a report on "The Vice Guide to Travel" today on the "World News webcast," live at 3 p.m.

Less a travel guide than a window to the societies and cultures its makers visit, "The Vice Guide to Travel" offers a glimpse at seven of the most dangerous and mysterious places in the world.

So, if you're interested in meeting the PLO boy scouts of Beirut -- who, by the way, are not affiliated in any way with the Boy Scouts of America -- or searching for a lost dinosaur in the Republic of Congo, looking for a lost Aryan utopia in Paraguay, exploring the black market of nuclear warheads in Bulgaria, cavorting at a drug-lord-sponsored party in the dangerous favelas in Rio, this travel guide may be for you.

"It started with our friend [director] Spike Jonze saying to us, 'Well, you film all your articles,'" said Shane Smith of Vice magazine. "And we said, 'Yes, we do.'

Then Smith said "And we go back to our office and we're like, 'OK, how do we film all our articles?'"

The new project led the Vice team around the world -- including to what the video bills as "the biggest illegal arms market in the world," in Darra, Pakistan.

"The town is kind of like being in the Wild West," said Vice co-founder Suroosh Alvi, "because it falls into this semi-autonomous region where no government has control over it."

The place is next to impossible for any journalist to get into, much less explore. For that to happen, someone needs a guide from the area to show him or her around.

Lucky for the Vice crew, it had local Naeem Afridi, a former government official, and a hired militiaman. But the crew approached with caution.

"If anybody come to my side," Afridi says in the travel guide, pointing his machine gun at the camera, "I will definitely kill him."

At the market itself, the travel guide shows things like a man with no tongue, "making 9mm pistols with his bare hands" -- and also a "shooting area" to test an assault rifle on the roof of the place where the Vice team had lunched shortly before.

"Many sons and a lot of guns," rhymed Afridi. "That is the philosophy of the Darra people."

The Vice guide sheds light on the usually dark underbelly of the illegal arms market. Alvi, who serves as the narrator of the Pakistan installment, points out that the town alone has produced roughly 1,000 guns per day for more than 70 years.

"Each shop serves a different purpose," Alvi said. "One shop will just be making the barrel of a gun. Another … shop will just be making bullets. And it's just … row after row of shops. And together they make one large factory or several factories."

Alvi ends his portion of Vice's travel guide on a bleak note: "Americans are trying to beat down the Taliban uprising, and they think that by sending in their troops and Pakistani troops that they'll be able to squash these people down. Good luck! These people live in caves. They have no tongues. They make guns with their bare hands. You can't beat them. They've been doing it for centuries, and they will continue to."

Not exactly the "welcomed us with open arms" review most of us are used to. But, Alvi added, "It's fascinating to go in there and see the working conditions and just the vibe of the place. You get in there and people are remarkably friendly. It didn't feel dangerous."

"The Vice Guide to Travel" also visits Beirut, site of prolonged religious strife, where the Vice team literally stumble upon a gold mine.

"That whole shoot was a mistake," Smith said. "We'd done this shoot 'Skating with the Hezbollah' … but when we got there, [the skate park] had been blown up. We just started going around talking to people and we met the head of the Al Aqsa Martyrs brigade."

Al Aqsa's leader, Munir Muqada, not only spoke on camera but gave Vice access to the PLO camp and their class of "boy scouts." The 6-, 7- and 8-year-old scouts, are shown joyously singing battle hymns. And there also is a cartoon championing a young boy "achieving the honor of martyrdom."

In Palestine, "the idea of becoming a martyr is fused with patriotism," said Mia Bloom, the author of "Dying to Kill." "As soon as there is a martyrdom operation, there are posters of them everywhere. Streets are named after them. Martyrs become virtual rock stars in their societies."

In David Choe's trip to the Republic of Congo in search of the fabled dinosaur Mokele Mbembe, the focus turns from trekking through the jungle with Pygmy guides to drinking hallucinogenic beer with them instead. Unlike the gung-ho, no-holds-barred attitude of the other correspondents, Choe's closing lines are, "So, I don't know. We might have to come back. We'll see."

In the Chernobyl segment, hosts Shane Smith and Pella Kagerman also emphasize heavy drinking.

With ever-advancing technology and fearless, sometimes reckless, explorers, there may be no limit to where Vice will go.

ABC News' Nancy Cordes and Rebecca Lee contributed to this report.

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