John's Nepal Sketchbook Journal

While travelling in Nepal I tried to do a sketch a day as well as write in my journal. I am no artist so don't read further if you are looking for artwork. I have typed in the actual journal entries in the following. A typical page would have originally looked like this.

The children were always very interested when I was busy sketching and would crowd around to look - creating a challenging creative environment.

Feb. 7, 1993 - Skyline from the Ganesh Hotel (on the right).

Day 1: Feb. 11, 1993 - Start of Trek. Dumre lunch area (cook) amidst dry rice paddies.


Day 2: Feb. 12, 1993 Lunch Bistanger (right)

(below) Bhote Odar - View from RAVINDRA HOTEL AND LODGE.

Day 3: Feb. 13, 1993 - Lunch Stop

Day 4: Feb. 14, 1993 - Lunch at Bhulbhule
    First day to see mountains

Ngadi Campsite

Day 5: Feb 15, 1993 - Lunch near Bahundanda

A great deal of smoke/haze(?) in the air - limited visibility. Looking across to a terraced mountainside with a plunging stream coming down it!

(below) View from Campsite early arrival (3:30) in heavy overcast and haze. dark at 4:30 - well dim :) (Syange Falls)


And then it started raining and thunder and lightening......

Day 6: Feb 16, 1993

Dawns mostly clear - a few fluffy clouds. Can see forever but steep valley walls limit view to one small mountain, with no snow on it.

Our trails goes high about the river then winds down into a small village (Jagat). 

Then we wind past beautiful waterfalls, and as the cloud cover thickens stop for lunch at Chyamche. 

Day 6: Feb. 16, 1993 Tal

We camp on the river delta by the town with an excellent view of the two waterfalls.

Near the Tibetan Hotel and Lodge

Cold this evening. Out come the down jackets.

Day 7: Feb. 17. 1993

Rain and wind at dawn broke to 50% blue sky by the time we left tal.

The village gate is constructed of stones (interlocked). the small shelf inside the gate contains prayer wheels.

The mountains are not interesting from here. Rain (light) off and on for most of the day. Got chilled during lunch break. Our guide elected to quit early and we are staying in a lodge tonight Lattermarang (2360m).

Day 8: Feb. 18, 1993

Wake to 50% cloud cover - cold. the dampness makes the cold more penetrating. Nice views of the nearby mountains. Too cold to sketch. Nice walk in sunshine (mostly) to Chame - overcast and very fine snow falling. We have lunch in a local hotel.

Lovely walk through a pine forest in light snow. stopped near 3pm in Bhratang as the snowfall increased. Stayed at the Maya Hotel. Charcoal file under the table makes it toasty warm. Chatting with Jun (from Besi Sehar) who speaks fairly good english. Snowfall accumulation is 10 cm. by 6pm.

Eleanor sketches and writes constantly. Her head bobs around like an active little bird.

Day 9: Feb. 19, 1993

About 30 min. on the trail and WHAMOO! I am in a cathedral of stupendous mountains.

An abandoned lodge makes an excellent shelter to strip out of our long johns as the heat builds.

As we walk through the forest the heat of the sun releases the snow load from the branches of the trees. at times it seems like it is snowing in the brilliant sunshine.

We break out into a broad flat valley and after 3 hours hiking arrive at the village of Pisaun for lunch.

The wind penetrates here! The slope below is very steep and almost totally snow covered. This (sketch below) is looking back on where we came from.

    The walk in the afternoon is chilly in windy overcast conditions. Very pleased to arrive at our destination, Humde. We stay at the Shamba Restaurant and Lodge. There is a Royal Nepal air service to a small landing strip here but it doesn't seem to operate at this time of the year. The village does have electricity - what a luxury! The Shamba has a stove which takes the chill off the air. We even watched a Kung Fu movie (VCR + TV).

It is always surrounded by people. Sitting on the stove platform itself or on one of the many small stools scattered about. I sketched different sections as people moved about - it was not very satisfactory.

Day 10: Feb 20, 1993

Dawns bright and clear - a cloudless day. In bright sunshine by 7:30. Annapurna IV is visible

and again about 20 min. down the trail.

Arrive Manag about noon. We are going to tent here.  Brilliant sunshine but also a strong wind has built up which chills us. It is warm in the tent though.

The dogs of Thailand and Nepal form a tragic scene. They seem to belong to no one - living off scraps. The puppies are cute, the adult ones look emaciated often missing large portions of fur. They are treated with casual indifference by the people - as are all animals.

The houses in Manag are built on many levels and typically are constructed next to each other so parts of the village are just a maze of interconnected dwellings.

Day 11: Feb. 21, 1993 (Sunday)

Very cold night. Dawn bright and clear again - great view of the mountains and glacier across from the campsite. In the morning we hiked about 1000 metres up the ridge behind Manag. Felt great and gave me confidence for the next two days. It is difficult to sketch because my fingers get chilled very quickly.

A young Australian couple, Steven and Kim accompanied us on our hike. On the way down it was astonishing to see how quickly this young couple moved as they vanished into the distant village.

We moved into rooms in the Yak Hotel this afternoon (80 rupees each - about $4.00 Canadian total). We can stand up and most importantly are out of the wind. The dining room is quiet and warm (15c). This hotel operates the campsite so we are getting our tea made by our cook - served here. Also we have electricity so we can read, write and sketch.

We are now halfway through the trek.

"Yak Hotel view of kitchen from the dining area".

The cupboard contains beer, sardines, cigarettes, chocolate bars, biscuits, water, toilet paper, pop, trail mix.....

Day 12: February 12, 1993

Dawns bright and clear.

Stupendous views of the mountains.

We made it almost to Letdar. We turned back because I developed altitude sickness. The return to Manag was beautiful sunshine.

Altitude sickness: Symptoms after two ours of climbing were nausea which seemed to be worse when I stopped walking - so I pressed on. There was some loss of bladder control. After 3 hours we stopped for lunch and I lay down hoping the symptoms would subside - they didn't. I became quite emotional - it was difficult to discuss. We decided to descend. I was experiencing enough dis-orientation that I had trouble find the path. Symptoms were relieved in about 1/2 hour and mostly gone in 1-2 hours (we were descending constantly). At no time did I have a headache. I feel very badly about this at the moment.


We have moved back into the Yak Hotel. We will return the way we came - there is no time to do another attempt on Throng La pass - especially if we are turned back a second time. Also we are almost desperate to get down to a warmer altitude. So we will move fast in the cold and will have time to trek to Pokhara as well and maybe enjoy an excursion there.

Day 13: February 23, 1993

Looking back at Humbe village and airport (right ->) .

Day 14: February 24, 1993

We stopped for lunch here just below Koto. The roof is typical of the construction in this area. it is a shingle roof (pine or?) which appears to
only be secured by rocks placed on horizontal strips of wood.

The weather has been clear allowing us to admire many mountain views we missed on the way up (when it was cloudy). Had a wonderful shower in the hot springs of Latermaran. Spending the night at the Tibetan Hotel in Dharapani. This was a long hard day. I fell asleep immediately - exhausted.

Day 15: February 25, 1993

Lunch stop in Chyamche. The heat has been building all day. Feels great. I am down to long pants and a light long sleeved shirt. We stopped here on the way up as well. It was cold then. Camp at Syange Falls (See Day 5). This was a very long day. We arrived about 5 and the last porters didn't arrive until 7:30. How they navigate the trails when it is dark I don't know. This was even more tiring then yesterday - my feet ache - otherwise I just feel tired.

(Bepin - our guide - told us the porters had stopped for a drink :) .

Too tired and dark to sketch - so to bed!

Day 16: February 26, 1993

Brilliant cloudless sky this morning allowed magnificent views we missed due to the cloud cover on the way up. Lunch at Bahundanda. Eleanor chatted to the principal of the local school (see right - Bahundanda Secondary School - surrounded by bamboo thickets). Some kids walk two hours to get to school. Camp at Bhubhule (see day 4).

Day 17: February 27, 1993

Overcast at dawn but does not seem to threaten rain (yet). We move almost immediately away from the main tourist route as we begin our trek to Pokhara. The weather stays overcast with no rain - very comfortable morning trekking through farming country. Saw monkeys in the fields. Lunch by a lovely stream. Feels like spring. Cherry trees are in bloom - sounds of birds.

These haystacks are very common. The hay is stacked on a platform about 2 metres high. The pile appears to be anchored by a central pole.

After lunch we proceed up, up, up (1000 metres) to Bhatlung Pani. The jungle thickens. Rhododendrons appear.

A small thunder shower dampens us all as the cloud cover builds. We arrive Bhalungpani about 3 and almost immediately the wind picks up. Within an hour we are huddled under blankets in a local home as rain and hail pounds down driven by a strong wind. We move into the top half of a local house - an open room with 4 cots, tin roof... so we are out of the rain and most of the wind. At 7 it is still raining - temp just above freezing. I can't believe it! Back in the down jackets again :( .

This candle stuck to a flat rock is what we read and write to after the sun goes down about 6pm. More hail at 7pm.

Day 18: February 28, 1993

Magnificent panoramic view of the mountains this morning.

Lovely idylic ridge walk up even higher, then descend along a ridge to the village of Nalma for lunch. The walk goes through a beautiful forest. there are eagles overhead. The rock work on the trail is at times very elaborate.

We say many of these (Dasain Ferris Wheel) and they all seemed to be in a state of dis-repair (Used during "Dasain" holiday only!). To Shyauli Bazar for overnight.

Day 19: March 1, 1993

To Karputer for lunch. This seems to be a very rich farming area. My right heel has been bothering me - will try sandals for a while.

"BAAGH KHEL" literally "Tiger Game" or "Tigers and Sheep" - a Nepalese game.

4 tigers, 20 sheep.
- Initially the 4 tigers are placed on the 4 corners.


  Tigers - to capture 5 sheep.
  Sheep - to corner tigers so they can't move.

  Tigers - move one space or jump and capture sheep if space on the other side of a sheep is empty.
  Sheep - Phase 1 - place sheep on board - one per move - cannot move sheep until all are placed.
  Sheep - Phase 2 - move one space.

Typically the game board is scratched on the surface of a flat rock. The pieces are 20 small stones and 4 large stones or 4 pieces of wood.

Day 20: March 2, 1993

Dawns bright and clear - a cloudless day. Everything is wet from an exceptionally heavy dew. It was very humid yesterday.

A lovely morning stroll down a fertile valley above Begnas Lake with panoramic mountain views in the background. Lunch at 11 overlooking the valley and road leading to Pokhara.

"Pokhara Municipal Campsite view over the lake at dusk."

Day 21, March 3, 1993

Dawns clear. The peak of fishtail mountain is barely visible from the campsite.

Final wind-up party with dancing in the evening.

Day 22: March 4, 1993

Another clear sunny day. Beautiful view of the mountains from the airport.

"Annapurna II from the airport".

Fishtail from the airport.

"Waiting Room Pokhara Airport"

Wait for Everest Air flight 402

Windows so dirty it is difficult to see out.


March 5, 1993

Beautiful day. Enough wind to disperse much of Kathmandu's pollution.

"Kathmandu Guest House ornamental square in the central garden".

"Kathmandu Guest House Garden"

Return to John and Eleanor Coulthard's home page.

Sep 10, 2011