For most people, the thought of quitting their jobs and traveling the world is only a pipe dream. For Walter Chang, however, that fantasy became a reality when he left everything and spent three years exploring 60 different countries, documenting his extraordinary journey along the way.
When the global economy collapsed in 2008, Chang had just graduated from NYU with a degree in film and television. Instead of following his passion and pursuing a career in that industry, Chang decided to play it safe by taking a full-time job as an audio visual technician until the economy improved. What was supposed to be a temporary detour in his life, however, turned into three years of being overworked at a job he didn’t enjoy. Somewhere along the way, Chang began dreaming of dropping everything and traveling throughout Asia for a year-long break, even though he’d only been outside the country only twice before. He began to save up by moving out of his apartment, sleeping at friends’ homes and in his own workplace, and selling all of his belongings. Finally, in September 2011, he packed his gear in a backpack, hopped on a plane, and left NYC to see what else was out there.
What was originally supposed to be a one-year voyage turned into three years as Chang instantly became hooked on the thrill of traveling, seeing fantastic sights, and meeting new people in each foreign land. He was able to sleep under the stars with wild animals in Zimbabwe, trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, stand on the bank of the Ganges River in India, reunite with his relatives in South Korea, and much more–all while photographing and filming his incredible experience to share with his friends all around the world.
Not all of the trip was glamor and adventure, Chang admits, as budget backpacking can be a challenge. To keep costs low at about $20,000 a year, he hitchhiked, camped, couch-surfed, slept in airports, and took 30-hour train rides across countries like China and India. Other hardships include several bouts of food poisoning, losing nearly everything to thieves in Chile, and nearly dying when his car flipped over in the deserts of Namibia.
Despite these difficulties, however, Chang says: “Traveling in this manner is really an educational experience and an investment in yourself. You get to see how other people live and how they view life. You also get time to reflect on your own issues from an altogether different perspective. In the end you may just come out wiser, more confident, and laid back. Then there’s the interaction with people vastly different from you who time after time are willing and eager to accommodate complete strangers, yet expecting nothing in return. The whole experience is incredibly humbling and urges you to give back in the same way.”
Now, Chang is back from his journey, and he’s hoping to share his story with others by crowdfunding a photo book titled We Call This Home through Kickstarter. He tells his supporters, “I’ve been extremely lucky going on an adventure like this. Capturing images and telling stories through a visual medium has always been an obsession of mine. Though I took a slight detour, photographing the people and places I visited during these travels gave me a chance to express this passion. With your support, I hope to share this story with you and perhaps inspire you with a bit of wanderlust.”
Above: Arirang Games, Pyongyang, North Korea
Water Castle, Indonesia
Dongchuan Red Soil, China
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Tam Cốc Bích Động Ninh Bình, Vietnam
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, USA
Old Bagan, Myanmar
Luang Prabang, Laos
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Ganges River, Varanasi, India
Old City, Jerusalem, Israel
Great Ocean Road, 12 Apostles, Australia
Water Chang at Machu Picchu, Peru.