Argentinian photojournalist Walter Astrada spent 19 years working as a photojournalist for the likes of AP and AFP, during which time he documented everything from rioting in Africa to Haiti's cholera outbreak. Ten months ago, the three-time World Press Photo award-winner set off for arguably his greatest adventure: a world tour on his Royal Enfield motorcycle. So far, his journey has taken him across Europe to easternmost Russia and South Korea, back to India and now Bangkok. Next month, he will host an exhibition dubbed The Journey at Cho Why in Chinatown (opening Mar 11) as well as a five-day photojournalist workshop, Craftmanship of a Reportage (Mar 14-18, B18,000). We spoke with him shortly after his arrival in Bangkok. 

Astrada at Lake Uureg in Mongolia, Aug 2015


What initially inspired you take this motorcycle journey?

I wanted travel. I mean, I wanted to continue to travel. With my job as a photojournalist covering places all over the world, often you would work but then have to leave before you really got to know a place. I just wanted more time to look around, more time to meet people and to understand.

Was there much planning involved?

For the first six months, yes. I had to. I had a plan to reach Vladivostok [Russia’s eastermost city] within six months. That meant crossing Siberia and Mongolia. I don’t think that would have been possible to cross in winter, so I had to stick to a rough schedule. I’m trying to do a world tour, so the plan is to make it to South America. But before then I will spend a year in Southeast Asia, where I don’t need to plan quite so much. It’s also cheaper. I plan to run some workshops and make some money I will travel to Northern Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

There’s a somewhat haunting quality to your photographs—sad yet beautiful. Is there anything in particular you’re trying to capture with this project?

I like to shoot daily life and the street. The daily lives of people. I feel like this is complementary to my career. In a way, it’s about getting back to where I was when I first got into photography, when I would carry a camera everywhere. Working professionally, I would always have a lot of interaction with locals, but I suppose I would be more influenced by what other people wanted—particularly what the newsagencies wanted—rather than having the chance to explore one place, and capture the scenes there from daily life.

Do you have a favorite place so far?

Mongolia very very nice. Often there was nobody on the road—sometimes there are no roads, so you have to make your own, which is not so good for the bike. But I’ve been lucky with that, barring a couple of accidents. Georgia, Turkey, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Korea—all have been incredible. With Myanmar, I only wish I could have stayed longer. If you want to stay longer than 12 days, it’s expensive, so it ended up feeling a little rushed. I’d spent time in India before working, but this time I was able to see a completely different side.

So, the big question, how does Bangkok’s traffic compare?

Wow man. I came in from Mae Sot and then Sukhothai, and there was no-one on the road. Then once I hit Bangkok, it was two hours in traffic, even on a bike. But I had the same situation in Mongolia, where it was all open roads until Ulaanbaatar. I think all big cities are experiencing something similar. That’s what you see in my photos, too; this contrast between open spaces and built-up urban areas.

To help finance his journey, Astrada is selling prints from the trip as well as seeking collaborators. Find out more and follow his blog here.

Khiva, Uzbekistan, Jul 2015 


An old Russian plane near the shore of the Ak-Buura River, Osh, Kyrgyzstan, Jul 2015


Tulpar Kol, Kyrgyzstan, Jul 2015

Shary Mogul, Mongolia, Jul 2015

Darvi, Mongolia, Aug 2015


Seoul, South Korea, Oct 2015


Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, South Korea, Oct 2015


Pushkar, India, Nov 2015


Varanisi, India, Jan 2016


Varanisi, India, Jan 2016


Bilugyun Island, Myanmar, Feb 2016


Bilugyun Island, Myanmar, Feb 2016