From a Nine to Five to The Wild!
Travel can mean a quickly forgotten fortnight on the beach, or a memorable one-off experience that could live with you for ever. That’s what happened to Walter Chang, photographer, filmmaker and proud author of the fantastic book “WE CALL THIS HOME“. Discover how, what Walter planned as a three-month trip, became a three-year life-changing journey.
What triggered your decision to start such a long journey around the world? How did people (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) react?
I was working 60-80 hrs a week at my job at the time and I simply burned out. So I made a plan to quit my job the following year and do some light traveling for a few months before figuring out my life. One thing lead to another and I ended up traveling for nearly a year, which then lead to 3 years.
Did you have a passion for photography before or did it grow during your travel?
I was interested in photography and filmmaking since high school and I went to film school at NYU. So one of the main goals during my travels was to go out every single day and shoot as much as I could.
You left with very little money and happened to travel for almost three years. How did you manage to live on such a tight budget for so long?
I wouldn’t say I left without any money. I was living on a budget, which meant that I would stay either in hostels or couchsurf, eat a lot of street food, and take local transport. After a while it seemed rather natural to me. However, I also made sure I splurged when there was a once in a lifetime experience .
Your camera has been your travelling buddy for 36 months. What kind of relationship did you have? Did you happen to talk to each other at some point? 🙂
We certainly had some adventures together! I even had multiple travel partners because one camera was stolen and another got waterlogged after a rainstorm in my tent. For the most part my camera gear became another limb. I would never leave for a place without it.
One says that travel broadens mind. What are the main lessons you have learned about people, life and humanity?
That we’re all pretty much the same, but also realizing we all live under different circumstances. It’s very easy to judge others without understanding their circumstances. Travel helps bridge people together and helps us understand one another.
What are some of your most memorable moments (good or bad)?
One of my favorite experiences was visiting Mana Pools NP in Zimbabwe. The park is unfenced so your campsite is frequented by all sorts of animals at night. Lions would be parked by the bathrooms, monkeys tried getting into our tents and cars in the morning, and I had an elephant walk up right in front of me (less than a meter away), stop, and then turn. Hyenas and hippos would pass by at night while we were sitting by our campfire.
I had all my belongings stolen except a bag of clothes in Chile while waiting at a bus stop in a city called Calama. I also rolled my car in the deserts of Namibia but was lucky and did not get injured. I felt like giving up during both these moments but decided to not let these incidents break me from continuing what I wanted to keep doing.
What were some of the most amazing spots you photographed?
There were so many, but some of the most amazing places I’ve photographed were Patagonia in South America, just about any place in New Zealand, the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, and the lively streets of Cuba
How is it to be back home? What’s your next travel plan?
There was a bit of a reverse culture shock that I didn’t feel at first. I had some difficulty adjusting back to “normal” life, and trying to figure out everything I needed to do in order to catch up with my professional and personal life. I’m still taking trips here and there, but I doubt I will do anything so long term again. I don’t have anything planned at the moment, but my wife and I are thinking of visiting Belarus to see her side of the family.
And what if you were to stay in one country for the rest of your life. What would it be?
I would stay in New Zealand without a doubt. I’ve yet to visit a place that has just about everything you would want to do outdoors. If you want to go to a beach, climb snow capped mountains, visit a fjord, walk through a forest, or explore a cave, New Zealand has got it all.
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Written by Keenobby Team