Travels, Experiences, and Photography by John Wehrheim

  • My Camera Equipment Secrets

      At exhibitions and in interviews, I’m occasionally asked about what cameras I use. I typically dismiss these questions with a flippant “Good pho...
  • Reflections (and Questions) on First- and Third-World Poverty

    This year, at the end of three months in Bhutan, Pakistan, and India, I was powerfully drawn to the slums of Lahore and Kolkata: their rich color, their fascinating characters, and especially their friendly and open people. Feeling both safe and spellbound, I roamed Kolkata's worst slums day and night, meeting hustlers, con artists, thieves, drug dealers, prostitutes, addicts and well as lots of honest, hard-working people including quite a few hijra, or transsexuals.
  • Revisiting India – Mrs. Chaudhri and the India War Widows Association

      I spent 10 days in October at the Indian National Library in Kolkata, researching a chapter in my new book. In 1974, I worked for Mrs. S. A. Cha...
  • Heera Mandi, Lahore – Pakistan

    On my way to the Lahore airport, I stopped for dinner at a rooftop restaurant in the old walled city next to the Badshahi Mosque and across from th...
  • Pakistan Revisited – Part 4. Hunza

    In 1973 I was arrested while trying to cross the border from Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor over the Irshad Pass to the Wakhi valley of Chipursan in...
  • Pakistan Revisited – Part 3. Gilgit

    ​​I had descended 9000 feet in the middle of June, just before the monsoon broke – Pakistan's hottest time of year. My path took me from glacial mountains and trails knee-deep in snow, to the Indus Valley high desert, where the heat knocked you down and kept you from getting up.

    Except for trekking around Lulusar Lake and over Babusar Pass, I rarely walked alone. There were always children with me – laughing, taunting, singing, practicing English, throwing stones at dogs, and generally showing off until they had to turn around and go home and another group of children from the next village would take their place.

  • Pakistan Revisited – Part 2. Lulusar Lake

    Soon after leaving George Schaller’s camp the road disappeared in the snow with animal tracks forking in several directions. I headed north toward the 13,700-foot Babusar Pass, following a herders’ trail around the southeast facing slope of Lulusar Lake.

    I crossed an ice bridge over a stream pouring out of a melting glacier and came to the base of a cliff pitched with loose rock scree. After a quarter mile of scrambling, I came to a sunny south-facing ledge covered in flowers – a wild mountain garden of yellow cinquefoils, purple asters, orange poppies and blue forget-me-nots. A rivulet cut the trail then cascaded down the cliff. Next to the trail I spotted two caves, mouths walled with rock that formed narrow entryways. The larger cave had a spring flowing from a fissure in the back wall – the source of the little waterfall that crossed the trail. From the spring, large flat rocks paved over the channel, creating a dry even floor that extended beyond the entryway to the edge of the trail.

  • Pakistan Revisited – Part 1. Kagan Valley

    In 1972, at the age of 25, with a backpack and $2,000 tucked into a homemade money belt, I left Hawai‘i and landed in San Francisco. From there, I hitchhiked and rode freight trains to New York then flew to Oslo. A ferry took me to England and another across the Channel to France. From Europe, I followed the “Hippie Highway” east to India – hitchhiking and traveling third class.

    While passing through Afghanistan, I was accused of being a CIA spy, arrested and imprisoned. Released during the coup that overthrew  King Mohammad Zahir Shah, I continued my trek through restricted Pakistani tribal territories and, with better luck this time, managed to avoid arrest. 

    Fifty years later, I returned to Pakistan to retrace that memorable leg of my journey. The following are excerpts from my journals, accompanied by notes and photos from my recent return. When I am able to enter Afghanistan, I plan to do the same for the leg that ended in Kabul – all part of research for a memoir I’m writing about that life-changing 1972-74 journey that took me around the world and led me back to Kaua‘i.