The official diary of the Gould mission to Lhasa sent by the British government. Read more about the mission diary.
We are getting out of the Monsoon area, for this morning Neame was woken up in his tent by the sun, a most unusual event at this time of year. Today’s 16 mile march was through most varied country, first a jungle clad gorge with the path alongside a steep torrent, then bare hillsides covered in short grass with rocky summits several thousand feet above the valley, and finally we came to true Tibetan country, the path traversing wide level valley floors with more rounded downs above. But it is to be remembered that the valley floor is 14,000 feet and the summits of the downs perhaps 17,000 feet or more above sea level. Compared with Ladakh and the Rudok District of Tibet this is a well grassed country offering grazing for large herds of yaks.
There were a lot of flowers which kept Chapman busy during the first half of the march. Mist and cloud blew over when we reached the Phari Plain and after Gould had met the Jongpen of Phari's representative some 4 miles from the Jong we all cantered in to avoid the rain. It is wonderful to be able to canter for miles at 14,000 feet; the only desirable precaution is to avoid the "mouse hare's" holes. A small species of marmot burrows all over these plains.
We experienced a most remarkable delusion on the Phari Plain. When we first came in sight of Phari perhaps 4 or 5 miles away we all thought the plain was flooded as there was a large area on both sides of the track for perhaps _ mile shimmering and silver, like water at a distance, what was our astonishment on getting closer to see acres and acres of blue forget-me-nots in the barley fields, so thick that there was a ‘Flat wash" of blue over the whole country. One has seen poppies in England, fields of iris in the Pyrenees, etc, but nothing like this.
An hour or so after our arrival Gould entertained to tea in the Bungalow the representative of the Phari Jongpen and also the Tibetan Government Collector of the wool tax, the latter had a marvellous white conical head dress with red silk tassels hanging all round it.
Our wireless officers Nepean and Dagg installed a receiving set which produced a German concern during dinner.
Phari Plain affords unlimited space for an aerodrome or landing ground, the area north cast of the Dzong being best. An aeroplane could make an emergency landing here without preliminary work. But every 400 or 500 yards shallow depression intersect the area which could -be levelled with little work.
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 II p.2