Most of us travel, and (ironically) curse tourists as we seek the ever-elusive “off the beaten path.” Sometimes we find it, and the rewards are fruitful. But Vice Magazine‘s VBS TV (Tilzy.TV page) takes it further. The Vice Guide to Travel is an example of how much fun can be had, and what can be learned, with a little research, perseverance and patience (…not necessarily all at the same time).  

The minds behind Guide take a different approach to travel than your Fodor’s or Lonely Planet. Instead of showing you where to go, they show by example — how to go. It’s a sampling of distant corners where one can experience worlds far (both in distance and culture) from his own.

They don’t tell you about the white beaches and blue waters of the Greek Isles.  They show you the experience of getting to arms dealers in Bulgaria.  They don’t direct you towards Mayan ruins in the Yucatan.  They film a subculture of Colombians who lose their virginities to donkeys.  They check these things out to inspire others to venture similarly and because few have before. They’re showing you how to maximize those vacation days with eye opening edification…as long as you’re not the beach type. And Vice knows its audience – the curious. ###

The hipster niche is stereotypically image conscious, but the appeal of these videos doesn’t lie in the normally all-important presentation.  Yes, they do look grungy, not-trying-to-be-but-I-am cool, but it’s impossible to fail on these topics. It would take Wolf Blitzer to make these spots uninteresting, and its apparent that the skill isn’t in how the videos look.  It’s in the ideas.  And Vice has those down pat.

Check Kabu, The Congo. Hunt for the last Dinosaur, A guide to Chernobyl, Oz’s biggest weed-fest.

In the episode below, Vice co-founder Gavin McInnis and comedian David Cross meet with factory owners in Shanghai. They begin with the premise of wanting to make apple pies on the cheap, “because it’s too expensive in the states,” and end up making, instead, a mockery of cheap labor and product.

In another Vice co-founder Shane Smith, albeit mockingly, “surveys” the $10,000 “Tokyo Lazy Doll.”  The thing can’t say “no,” especially if it’s in a doll brothel. Which exists.  And they go. Holding the trend (interestingly, much of the series is based on either sex, drugs or both and NSFW), yet another takes a trip to Porntown, USA (aka Woodland Hills, Ca), where 95% of America’s smut is produced. The clips make me wonder why more DVDs don’t include behind the scenes extras and bloopers. The point here is, what’s more interesting: MGM Studios, or a backyard in the Woodland Hills?

That’s the point of all the vids. Vice magazine has generally been geared toward a hipster subculture that was also once “off the beaten path.” When it’s founders came to the realization that their rag was all about indie bands, sneakers, and blow, they created VBS TV to show the world something else. With the Guide we’re taken to places much further off the radar than East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  And Its fascinating.

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