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

[MUSIC PLAYING] 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. HARRY KIM: (SINGING) We are
waiting for the train to come. Waiting for the train to come. Waiting for the train to come. Yeah! 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. DAVID CHOE: OK. 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. HARRY KIM (OFFSCREEN):
On the train? CHICAGO: Yeah, I went to
the Star Trek event. HARRY KIM (OFFSCREEN):
That’s awesome. CHICAGO: I’m a nerd. DAVID CHOE: Do you like
Vulcan stuff? CHICAGO: I love everything. DAVID CHOE (OFFSCREEN): Why
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,
California. 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? “LITTLE” RICHARD: Just
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
opportunities. 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. DAVID CHOE: OK. 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. DAVID CHOE: Hi. 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. [PLAYING DRUMS] 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
cameras. 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
electrician. 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. DAVID CHOE (OFFSCREEN): That
sounds like what you wanna do. JACK: No, I’m honestly
Oh, OK. JACK: I’m out here just
like you are. DAVID CHOE (OFFSCREEN): You
should come with us. JACK: I gotta job, though. DAVID CHOE (OFFSCREEN): You
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. DAVID CHOE: OK. High-five. 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. HARRY KIM (OFFSCREEN): Yes. DAVID CHOE: Gracias. This is our first ride. Thumbs up, America. HARRY KIM (OFFSCREEN):
We did it. MALE SPEAKER: What’s up, man. DAVID CHOE (OFFSCREEN):
All right. Thanks for giving us a ride. We appreciate it. Were you scared? FEMALE SPEAKER: No. DAVID CHOE (OFFSCREEN): OK. 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,
actually. I’m never gotten a ride
in a van that’s like– HARRY KIM (OFFSCREEN):
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. HARRY KIM (OFFSCREEN):
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. DAVID CHOE (OFFSCREEN): What
do you think this is? Feels like an arm. Dude, someone’s arm. Oh, phew. HARRY KIM (OFFSCREEN): That’s
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?

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