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David Choe Has MUCH Crazier Travel Stories Than Me

Do you guys know David Choe? I first discovered him when my friend was watching his hitchhiking show on VICE called Thumbs Up (worth a watch as this was back when VICE actually put out interesting content)

I later learned he once painted a mural for the Facebook offices. 

As payment for his services, Zuckerberg offered Choe either 50K cash or 50K in stock. He’s a self proclaimed gambling addict so obviously took the stock (unlike Portnoy with DraftKings), which ended up being worth 200 million after Facebook’s IPO. 

He’s a wildly interesting dude and his latest appearance on Rogan is an awesome listen if you have 4 hours to spare. He goes into depth with how he's coped with severe anxiety in the past which I'm sure some people reading this would find therapeutic. 

The most fascinating part of the podcast for me though was the story about his visit to the Congo, which blows any of my travel stories out of the water. 

If you don't have time to listen to it let me recap it quickly:

  • Choe had already traveled through much of the world and wanted to go somewhere off the beaten track. Decides to go to the Congo after reading in National Geographic that some scientists had spotted a Brontosaurus type creature in the jungle there.
  • Has to lie that he's a personal assistant for a toothpaste executive in order to get a visa.
  • Arrives in Congo to find it in the midst of a Civil War and an Ebola outbreak. Sees people getting hung and stoned to death.
  • Meets a rich German guy there who's only in the Congo to fuck as many woman as possible. He agrees to search for the Dinosaur with Choe.
  • They immediately get lost in the middle of the jungle. The German dude starts eating all of their remaining food and just treating Choe like shit in general.
  •  Choe loses his mind and considers killing him (and eating him if necessary for survival). Choe comes so close to murdering him that he lifts a heavy rock over the guy's head while he's sleeping but talks himself out of it at the last second. 
  • The next day he spots a Pygmy (hunter-gatherers that live in the central African jungle) high up in a tree. The Pygmy brings them back to his village, where Choe is the first Asian person they have ever seen and they think he's an alien.
  • The pygmy villagers feed them, and eventually show them how to get back to the city. 
  • He realizes he'll probably die trying to find this Dinosaur and leaves the Congo. Writes about his experiences, which lead to him getting hired by VICE.
  • By the way he was only 19 when all of this went down. AND he went back to the Congo later for VICE to find the Dinosaur but I haven't watched that video so have no idea what happened (except that he didn't find the Dinosaur). Anything I've done seems pretty tame in comparison.

 Another extremely poignant part of the podcast was when Choe broke down talking about Anthony Bourdain but be warned, it's pretty heavy stuff so may want to skip it if you don't want to start your day off on a sad note. It's extremely moving though and he makes an important point about how even successful people can be very unhappy.