How to Hitchhike Across America: Thumbs Up Season 1 (Part 1/5)

How to Hitchhike Across America: Thumbs Up Season 1 (Part 1/5)

DAVID CHOE: Ass, cash, or grass,
no one rides for free.
Thumbs up.
I’m David Choe, we’re
going cross-country.
We’re going across America.
We accept all rides for free.
Hopping trains, hitchhiking
on cars, flying on planes.
We’re just not gonna pay
for any of them.
Last time I did this was during
the grunge period in
the early ’90s, so
it’s been awhile.
And I only almost got raped
twice, and so hopefully that
won’t happen.
But I was like a lot skinnier
and sexier then.
And you know a lot of sexual
abuse victims, they put on
weight to make themselves feel
unattractive and unsexy, so
hopefully they’ll leave
us alone this time.
I’m bringing Harry Kim.
This is my nephew.
We’ll see how far two of the
baddest gooks in K-town can
get across this wide America
by any means possible.
HARRY KIM: Right now we’re in
the LA train yard, and we’re
gonna head east and
just keep going.

DAVID CHOE: All right, we
should investigate which
train’s leaving next.
Sometimes, I come back from
train-hopping trips and people
are like, hey did
you bring me a
souvenir, you’re on vacation.
It’s like, there’s no
gift shops, really.
But what is cool is, when you
walk along the tracks, and you
see a piece of crap,
it’s not dog crap.
That’s human crap.
And a lot of times, it’s
over 100 years old.
Still a nice souvenir for
friends and family.
This isn’t “CSI” or anything,
but basically what happened
here was, he took a dump here,
and then he wiped his ass on
the wall right there.
And then he used this rock
and this [INAUDIBLE]
is covered in shit.
To wipe his ass.
waiting for the train to come.
Waiting for the train to come.
Waiting for the train to come.
DAVID CHOE: We’re having a
little of a rough time getting
out of Los Angeles because
they’re all heading to San
Diego, and we don’t want
to go to Tijuana.
We’re here with Chicago.
He was walking his dog
out here earlier.
What’s going on with the train
yard situation out here?
CHICAGO: Well, they’re
real anal.
You know, it’s like the cops,
they’re real dickheads,
because they’re not real cops.
So they try to do as much
enforcing as they can.
So they’ll fine you the
first time $100.
No warning, no nothing.
From out of town, they’ll
definitely slap you with a
fine, each.
And the second time,
you go to jail.
So, if we want to go to Vegas,
we gotta go that way.
CHICAGO: No, you want to
start that way and
then bend up there.
I just came back from
Vegas yesterday.
On the train?
CHICAGO: Yeah, I went to
the Star Trek event.
That’s awesome.
CHICAGO: I’m a nerd.
DAVID CHOE: Do you like
Vulcan stuff?
CHICAGO: I love everything.
do you like Star Trek?
CHICAGO: It’s the way we
should be as a society.
There’s no money involved,
you know.
You actually do the job that
you were born for.
DAVID CHOE: So how was it?
How was the convention?
CHICAGO: It was great.
Really fucking awesome.
I got laid by this Klingon chick
in full Klingon outfit.
It was like, unbelievable.
Gotta try it.
Klingon sex.
Be careful of the little
towns though.
Because people are
all crazy, man.
[INAUDIBLE] they all know
each other, and they
will fuck you up.
So you gotta be careful.
People will try to hustle you
out of whatever you got.
Don’t ever, ever trust someone
on your little adventure.
DAVID CHOE: I got Blackie
Chan right here.
CHICAGO: You got each other, but
you’re not always gonna be
there, dude.
I’m telling you.
Be careful, guys.
Safe trip.
If you’re out here tonight, man,
I’ll hang out with you
guys, you know, until–

DAVID CHOE: We caught and hopped
a freight out here.
It slowed down, so
we jumped on.
It’s 2 o’clock in the morning,
and here we are at the Burger
Den in beautiful Yermo,
This is pretty much the halfway
mark between Vegas and
Los Angeles.
Any cops we should
watch out for?
“LITTLE” RICHARD: Just plenty
of snakes, man.
DAVID CHOE: And what about train
hopping around here?
be careful, man.
I’ve never done that, so I can’t
say how dangerous it is.
DAVID CHOE: But have
you heard anything?
“LITTLE” RICHARD: Yeah, man,
bums are dying and stuff.
DAVID CHOE: Bums are dying.
“LITTLE” RICHARD: Just I don’t
know why, but I guess they’re
all train jumpers.
Probably they’re all drunk and
stuff, but, I don’t know.
DAVID CHOE: All right.
Bums are dying.
Be careful.
Watch out for snakes.
You heard it from Richard at
the Burger Den in Yermo.
We’re stranded in Yermo
for a little bit.
We’ve been trying to hitch
a ride out and can’t
seem to get a ride.
However, we found this abandoned
hotel that looks
like it’s being renovated and
it’s nice and warm in here.
And it doesn’t look like
anyone’s gonna fuck with us,
so I guess this is
home for tonight.

We tried to sleep at the little
construction site hotel
in Yermo and they
kicked us out.
Some highway patrolmen came by
at like 4:00 in the morning.
So we walked a mile out.
I think this place is called
the Calico Ghost Town.
Fucking guy decided to
get sick last night.
I wanna get going, but I just
wanted to leave a mark.
We’re trying to catch
a train out.
Hopefully we’ll try to make
it to Vegas by today.
But we wanna destroy this
house a little bit.

This is the best seat
in the house.
And we’re basically sitting on
a metal conductor for heat,
and my ass is burning
right now.
It’s fucking hot.

And that’s the clickety clack.
When the force pulls, like all
of them go, [TRAIN NOISES].
And so, we’re in Yermo.
We just caught one out to–
we’re heading out towards
the beautiful Las Vegas.

I spent probably the last decade
and a half of my life
being the worst thief
on the planet.
I had a huge change of heart
and a change of thinking in
the last few years.
I never thought I’d actually
be a successful artist, but
when I’m selling paintings and
making a decent living out of
it, I got aspects of why I’m
stealing Starburst from 7-11.
So, it’s more of a habit that
was very tough to break in.
I guess, an addiction also.
So I fill that void in
my life with Christ.
And so, God is still part of my
life right now, but if I’m
completely honest, not as
big as when I did have
the change of heart.
Slowly, yet surely,
another thing that
filled my life is gambling.
And so gambling is a huge
part of my life now.
So, last time I went to Vegas,
I was delivering custom-made
shorts for a UFC fighter.
It’s a long story, but basically
there was like a
dead hooker in front of his
room, and he was frazzled.
My friend gave me some money to
put on a fight, and he lost
money on the fight with the
leftover money that I wasn’t
able to put on the fight.
I went to the Venetian
and I went to the
high roller’s room.
And I won $40,000.
And so, I guess I’m considered a
high roller and they’ve been
calling me ever since.
They want their money
back, basically.
So, I figure we’re pretty
fucking dirty.
We’re pretty tired.
Might as well milk our
Hi, Yvonne, this
is David Choe.
I haven’t been back there since
probably a few months
and I was wondering if it’s too
late to cash in on one of
those rooms.
Wow, thank you.
Thumbs up.
I guess we’re gonna go
from rags to riches.
They got us a pretty nice room
over there at the Venetian for
free because they want
their money back.
Hopefully, I can remain cool
and not become a degenerate
gambler and blow our
entire budget for
the trip in one night.
We barely made it out
of Los Angeles.
Hopefully, we’ll make
it out of Sin City.
Our train just stopped
in literally
the middle of nowhere.
Harry’s sick and he’s
almost out of water.
You know, it’s very important
to stay hydrated out here in
the desert.
So if he is to pass out, I
will piss in his mouth.
Keep waking him up.
How you feeling?
HARRY KIM: Keep me hydrated.
DAVID CHOE: Feeling better?
HARRY KIM: Yup, feeling good.
We just stopped and we saw an
open boxcar when the train was
turning, so that might be
a more enjoyable ride.
It’ll be a change of pace.
Complain to the concierge,
get a different room.

It has taken us over
16 hours to get
halfway from LA to Vegas.
We’re in a place called Kelso
right now, still about 200
miles from Vegas.
What people don’t understand is,
during the 1920s and ’30s,
the railroads were built
on the backs
of Chinese and blacks.
This is the spine
of this country.
This is the backbone.
Like everywhere the train went,
that’s where little
towns popped up.
You drive cross-country in a
car, you see the 10 freeway.
You go through from
LA to Miami.
You hit all these towns, 7-11s,
Circle K’s but, you go
on the train.
You go through some places that
time has not touched in
50, 60, 100 years.
Some backwards towns, some of
the most beautiful amazing
things you’ve ever seen
in your life.
This is one of the last American
frontiers, I think.
As every year goes by, it gets
more and more harder to do
this kind of traveling,
but it’s a
great way to save money.

So here we are, in beautiful
“Lost Wages.” We just hopped a
boxcar out here.
I think there’s a room waiting
for us at the Venetian, so
time to gamble.

We’re in beautiful
Las Vegas again.
We just walked from the
train tracks over to
the Venetian hotel.
I’m gonna get my free room, and
hopefully get a manicure
and pedicure and a free sauna,
and a happy ending and all the
good stuff.
Let’s go, Harry.
HARRY KIM: Luxury.


Thumbs up.
I justify this behavior
because it is
comped and it’s free.
And I worked hard losing
money to get that comp.
And I’m not comped anywhere
else, so this will be it,
before we head off on
the road again.
It’s our one hurrah.

Familiar story.
Lost it all.
Took a cash advance out on my
credit card to get back to
even money.
Lost it all.
I am the biggest loser.
I want to sleep till 2007 or
just do a 2-hour drum solo.
That’s how it goes.
One minute, you’re up, one
minute you’re down.
Down and out in Las Vegas.
I guess fortunes change.
So, the situation is, we found
out this morning that we
weren’t comped for
a second room.
My 20 minutes of play doesn’t
get me two nights.
Fortunately, I have a friend
from high school that became a
pit boss at the lovely and
beautiful Golden Palm Resort
and Casino, which is pretty much
a dump and pretty much
only known for its
karaoke which is
pretty fucking awesome.

Wow, I don’t know what
to say because–
OK, so we come into
karaoke night.
We find Lee, who takes care of
all the odds and ends around
the Golden Palm.
But he’s working in a tiny
office, has a samurai sword,
all these video monitor
And the guy’s also sleeping on
the floor, and unbelievably
does the best Bob Dylan
I’ve ever heard.
Quite a performer.
What are you doing here?
LEE: I am the hotel
I’m the resident musician.
I’m past my third marriage.
My daughter’s 24.
She’s in the United
States Navy.
DAVID CHOE: Were you
in the Navy?
LEE: Yeah, I’m third
generation Navy.
I am a performer of
petty miracles.
I played bass guitar
since I was 18.
Took two lessons from
Jerry Garcia.
I enjoy the karaoke forays.
DAVID CHOE: Well, tell me
a little bit about the–
I mean, tell me the world of
karaoke, is it a harsh world?
Do people know you in
the karaoke circuit?
LEE: A lot of live musicians
at point
and time in the past–
I had not actually rehearsed
music, taking it into the
band, then the band would say,
well, we don’t think you can
really do that song, or we
don’t think we can do it.
But with karaoke, the CD disc is
always gonna play the same.
It’s always gonna be there.
It’s not gonna talk
back to you.
It’s never gonna be late.
It don’t get drunk.
Only thing you can do is
do it worse, or better.
Make a decision.
I’m never gonna do that
song again, or
yes, that’s a keeper.

DAVID CHOE: The one plus side to
the scalding hot weather in
the daytime is actually, at
night time, it’s pretty nice
and pleasant.
So Eric, my friend, is letting
us sleep by the pool without
anyone bothering us.
And the security guard is
keeping the hookers away from
pickpocketing us
while we sleep.
It’s a nice night out.
We’ll wake up and take a bath
in the jacuzzi and hitch out
of Vegas tomorrow and hopefully
get the fuck out of
this town because I’ve been
here way too long.

DAVID CHOE: I apologize
in advance if I
seem irritable today.
Me and Harry slept by the pool
at the Golden Palm last night,
and was rudely awoken by
the sun in our face.
It’s day four.
I wanna get the fuck
out of Vegas.
This is really the city
of Lost Wages.
Our goal today is to at least
make it to Arizona and New
Mexico, if possible.
This place sucks.
We’re gonna make ourselves
a sign, right now.
JACK: They’re standing out
here with a street sign.
It says, towards Arizona.
These motherfuckers just wanna
get home from work.
It’s Friday afternoon.
They wanna get home,
do their drugs, get
fucked, and watch TV.
sounds like what you wanna do.
JACK: No, I’m honestly
Oh, OK.
JACK: I’m out here just
like you are.
should come with us.
JACK: I gotta job, though.
don’t think anyone’s gonna
pick us up?
JACK: I hope you guys get to
where you’re going, I do.
I’m pulling for you.
But in reality, no one’s
gonna pick you up.

Golden rule is to smile while
you’re hitchhiking.
No one likes a sour-puss face.
Just smile.
You’ll look like a nice guy.

DAVID CHOE: Harry sweet-talked
the nice lady.
DAVID CHOE: Gracias.
This is our first ride.
Thumbs up, America.
We did it.

MALE SPEAKER: What’s up, man.
All right.
Thanks for giving us a ride.
We appreciate it.
Were you scared?
Only when the police came?
Thank you so much.
One thing I forgot about fear
and hitchhiking is, when
you’re hitchhiking, and you talk
to the people, and you
say, hey, how about a lift, and
they’re in the lane to get
on the freeway, and you know,
they say obvious lies like,
oh, I’m not getting on the
freeway, I’m going straight.
And it’s obvious that you’re
not going straight.
It’s weird because you start
to build this hatred and
resentment towards people, and
you’re like, why are you
lying, man?
Why the fuck are you
lying to me.
It’s obvious you’re getting
on the freeway.
You just don’t wanna
give me a ride.
Like, hey man, just be real,
just be honest with me.
But then, what would their
honest reasons be?
And in life, when are people
really honest with you anyway?
Oh no, I don’t want to give you
a ride because you smell
and you’re dirty and
you’re chinky.
And then you think about it for
yourself if it was with
the reverse situation.
If I’m honest with myself, I
don’t want to pick them up
because they’re dirty, and they
sweat, and I don’t want
them in my car.
But, who wants to say that?
So, I have no one to be angry
at with except for myself.
And Harry.

She’s going our direction
but I have no idea.
Do you have your flashlight,
Oh, shit, dude.
DAVID CHOE: OK, so basically,
we just got a
ride from a nice lady.
And it’s a van, it’s a little
bit hot in the back.
We’re heading east.
We don’t know which–
this is sort of scary,
I’m never gotten a ride
in a van that’s like–
No windows.
DAVID CHOE: But it did say “God
Bless America.” And there
was only like, two scary guys
that are sitting in the back,
so I think we’re all good.
So, that’s our
way out right there.
There’s no way we can find out
where we are or anything
that’s outside.
The windows are black and all
the lights are taken out.
do you think this is?
Feels like an arm.
Dude, someone’s arm.

Oh, phew.

the last person’s clothes.
The last person who
got picked up.
They just left that here.
DAVID CHOE: If this is the last
you ever hear from me,
mom and dad, I love
you very much.
And I tried my best to be
the best son I could.
To my girlfriend, Milan,
I love you very much.
I’m sorry I was like the
worst boyfriend ever.
Can you guys hear me?

100 thoughts on “How to Hitchhike Across America: Thumbs Up Season 1 (Part 1/5)”

  1. It's like he's escavating dinosaur fossils when he can tell how long the shit has been on the train tracks nevermind the wiping your ass with a fucking rock

  2. Is his name really Harrry Kim?? LoL it seems too generic, like a name you would use as an alias 😂😂

  3. I'm homeless in CT ND refuse to let this be my reality I need tips to get from CT to Cali so I can start a new life any tips on how to get there or what to do when I get there are appreciated

  4. This is more (un)reality TV rather than any kind of “documentary”! I don’t even understand why this is on Vice?

  5. I thought they were going to hitchhike across the whole continent( america) not just across the united states .

  6. When I see bums begging for change or with signs trying to hitchhike, I think either criminal, drug addict, or both. With three people hitchhiking in this documentary (one with a camera), your chances are better and the camera guy being there makes the experience unauthentic. I'm sure they discuss things like this with the people that pick them up too.

  7. VIce used to be so good what the fuck happened now they have people cooking with their blood, and shitty hit pieces

  8. This really should be "How to Hitchhike Across America: FOR MEN" Very different experience and way more danger is involved when women hitchhike. People are more likely to pick up 2 girls on the side of the road than 2 guys, especially male drivers. But even women drivers feel safer picking up a woman, so both genders are inclined and feel more at ease letting women get in their car for a long ride. Women are also looked at as more vulnerable and weaker than men and most people want to help women that are alone and struggling. However, the chance of assault, rape, murder, or even just verbal harassment is way higher for women hitchhiking alone compared to men. So the vulnerability that people see in women hitchhikers works for their benefit, but it also works against them and leaves them open to being attacked. Generally I think most people are good and nothing dangerous would happen… but this documentary would be way more interesting if they compared women and men hitchhikers and what is easier/harder for each person.

  9. Just found out David Choe actually painted some murals for Z U C C around 2012 and received Facebook stock as compensation. He’s now worth $300 Million because of that.

  10. You people are the reason those who do hitchhike are frowned upon.I have hitchhiked across this country.I did it when i was 18. I had no money on me,nor did i have a weapon of any type.I bet your coward ass would not dare try that.For the record,Homelessness is not a sport for you to enjoy.Pretenders like you should be made homeless with no money so you can learn this lesson.

  11. I’m a long haul truck driver and got my CDL at 21 and at 23 I’ve driven to all 48 states and was paid to see everything. And a few years from their I’m now taking vacations anywhere in the 48 whenever I want too and however long I want too:

  12. I wouldn't stay at the Venetian. Penny pinching power hungry Adelson doesn't pay out comps there. I went to the wax museum and that's it.

  13. I'm not even kidding you, you can get a ROUND trip luxury bus ride from southern California to
    Vegas for only $30. I'd pay that any day over 20 hours on the outside of a train

  14. How about I don't want to pick you up because I don't know you and people get murdered like that…. fucking R-tard

  15. Well…watched less thab 6 minutes of these self-important fucktards….won't be watching parts 2-5 at all. THUMBS DOWN!

  16. I'm 9 min in this i am so fkn excited ,i love this shit crossing my fingers for these dudes for our adventure✊✊✊✊✊✊🤞🤞🤞🤞

  17. Somebody should start a business that organizes custom excursions that allow rich people to experience what it is like to be poor. Millennials would love it and for a small fee you can vandalize other people's property and get a "Rebel" certification card to show all your friends at Starbucks.


  19. These idiots are the reason why the off grid (homeless) community calls guys like these "weekend warriors".

    oh my god, are you serious? You carry a hand gun just to destroy shelter, preach Jesus!, and then say you're a consistent gambler!?! — all while pretending to be a hardcore railriding gritter? I hope a real rider throws you off a train dude.

  20. The more one sees of America the more one realizes there are very few 'normal ppl' on this continent, and just maybe it is time for the Earth to refresh itself of human existence.

  21. I always had a big written sign with a city name I was going to that was readable by cars going by – AND – the word PLEASE on the back that Id flip over to as they pass….. NY to Chicago and back no problem

  22. I first saw this years ago on VBS and it was as good as I remember. I love when they jam out on the toy store drums and guitar. I forget the name of David Choes band but they’re crazy as hell.

  23. Haha i wonder how many girls,teens saw this and ended up in a dark cage somewhere underground.i was in nova scotia,canada and even there,one of the friendliest place, our first advice we became never ever hitchhike.young womans and men disapeard at that time on a regular base.

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