The official diary of the Gould mission to Lhasa sent by the British government. Read more about the mission diary.
We made an early start at 5-30 AM, in the hope, which was fulfilled, of Crossing the Nathu La before the usual rain started. Actually it remained dry the whole of the march. We reached the picturesque lake of Changu after 3 hours march and breakfasted in the bungalow there. This lake at a height of some 12,500 feet was stocked with trout some years ago by Colonel F. M. Bailey but although many were reported to have grown to a large size, they do not appear to have bred at all, and now since a year or two none have been seen and it is to be f eared that they have died out.
After breakfast we resumed the march amongst hillsides sparsely covered with pine trees and juniper bushes, but with many vast azalea and rhododendron thickets whose blooms alas were all over. But the loveliest aspect of these hills at this time of year is the mass of wild flowers of inconceivable variety. The prevailing colour just now is yellow - yellow poppies, yellow primulas, vagwort, rockrose, etc. The yellow poppies were most striking and these and the primulas extended right up to the Nathu La at 14.600 feet. The poppies grow in clusters on thick stems 3 to 4 ft. high, which are scattered singly, not in clumps over the great hillsides and show up like white post's in the distance.
At the top of the Nathu La were the usual prayer flags and pile of stones which the Tibetans put at the crest of every pass and Sikkimese and Tibetans alike bow low to the prayer flags and add a stone to the pile.
Across the pass we were in Tibet and in an offshoot of the fertile and well watered Chumbi Valley. The tree line is very high, at nearly 14,000 feet, and the jungle here is a blaze of wild flowers. Chapman collected over a hundred varieties of flowers around Champithang Bungalow at over 13,000 feet.
We lunched en route and reached the bungalow early in the afternoon.
The head of the Mission receives a considerable number of cipher wires and he and the two signal officers have to spend a considerable time in deciphering.
One has often heard of the Sikkim stag or "Shou", which used to exist in the Chumbi Valley. It never did live in Sikkim proper, but probably its horns were first seen by Europeans in Sikkim and thus it got the name. Alas this magnificent stag is now extinct in Chumbi, the last having been shot about 12 years ago. There was a big herd in 1904 when the Tibet Expedition passed through.
Author: Philip Neame [see handwritten annotations in Diary by Hugh Richardson in MS. Or. Richardson 2, Bodleian Libary, Department of Oriental Collections, University of Oxford]
Page Reference: Pt I p.1