Nepal: land of dreams

by Margaret Elizabeth Johnston
nepal land of dreams

Laos, Malaysia, Bali (I can’t really say Indonesia since I just stayed on Bali!) and now Nepal, where I find myself today! Combining travel with my medicinal plant studies has been a different journey than planned and now even my way of depicting and area has differed. A very personalised painting with lots of symbolism isn’t what I normally paint, however, perhaps being in the land of dreams, fantasy and heights has inspired something inside me to do something a bit different.

Nepal is a beautiful country to visit and as I find myself here, as my SE Asian journey has continued, I enjoyed creating a painting that I felt encompassed quite a few interests of mine; the lotus flower, Tibetan prayer flags, water and dreams! I included dreams here because sometime when one is in a magical place, magical dreams may come. There is a system called “honouring your dreams”, which means if you wake with a strong dream, you write it down, as much as you can remember, and by virtue of this action you have a tendency to remember more of your dreams. The psyche realises you are “honouring” them and even more meaningful and stronger dreams will come to guide you. Being in Nepal is giving me space to do just this!

Not coming for trekking brings its own gifts. Katmandu is a lively city to say the least, however, I have based myself in Pokhara, where a lot of trekkers come to do the Annapurna circuit or parts of it. There are a few lakes in the area, the main one called Phewa, where you can rent a boat and paddle out for the day, crossing the lake to the base of the World Peace Pagoda way up high on the mountain, do a small hike to it, and have an all encompassing view of the city of Pokhara. You can also rent a scooter or bicycle and cruise around, eat at the local restaurants on the lake and enjoy light nightlife as the sun sets.

Nepal mountain

There are a few day hikes, loads of good bookstores and coffee cafes and a general relaxed wellbeing permeates this town. I joined a yoga centre/spa called Holy Garden that not only has traditional style yoga available, but 2 sound healing’s a day with Tibetan bowls and a lot of personalised spa treatments by a local group of Nepalese which keeps prices low but quality high. It is a nice change to the westernised expat coming in and creating something that you have had before.

You get the “real deal” with these folks. Check out Denny Lama if you have a chance! The bliss I receive after a yoga and sound session is divine, then a “spa” treatment with local herbs with steam and afterwards having medicinal herbal tea feels so authentic and natural that I use the centre a few times a week. Denny is also a good contact to learn about local day hikes and villages to visit and combines some yoga and herbal knowledge along the way.

If you wish to stay in a traditional Buddhist Monastery for a small donation please contact him also, it is on the hill in Pokhara and has rooms and surveys the little lakeside town. (I receive nothing in return for discussing people or companies, I honestly just have real authentic information on what is true and good vs just another promotion. I have travelled enough to know surface commodities vs deep traditional healing techniques and been in the holistic health business over 25 years myself so please accept my suggestions freely and joyfully!)

Tibetan prayer flags represent the spreading of goodwill and compassion by the Tibetan monks into the “all-pervading space” of the world. The colours of the flags represent the five elements; blue symbolises the sky and space, white symbolises the air and wind, red symbolises fire, green symbolises water, and yellow symbolises earth. Lotus flowers are forever a symbol of strength and endurance, beauty and divine inspiration as they push up through the mud and blossom into a beautiful flower.

Both in Nepal and Thailand the lotus flower is used in many designs and symbols. I have found it to be one of the most popular flower’s used in SE Asia and have had fun painting them a few times. This one example was inspired by a friend that actually goes into his swimming pool with his underwater camera, having someone throw flowers into his pool as he snaps away. I saw the pics on Facebook and thought what a fun idea and view of flowers … I just had to try a painting with some of his images!

flower on the wall Nepal

As I write this I feel a bit confused as to if this is an art article, travel article or personal journal entry! Something I have realised is not all trips have to be one thing, i.e., a trek, a scholastic study, a working holiday, a beach read, etc. We are a bit of this and a bit of that all the time, combining your joys and passions into a journey is always a fulfilling way to see the world. Knowing what you like and don’t like yet perhaps challenging yourself to something new, is a good way forward. After hanging out in Pokhara, I have learned that if you do want to go trekking, it is easy to change your trip to suit yourself.

I have found that on some of the intense hikes, you may want to stop and stay in a village longer than the average stay and that is OK as long as you know you may have to be patient with your guide or Sherpa when they want to carry on. Just make sure they know ahead of time that you may want to take your time. For those that don’t need a guide or Sherpa, you can consider the idea that you’re not necessarily trekking, you’re just taking a walk-a-bout … granted, a high and steep one, but a walk-a-bout no less! Viewing it this way, you’re just having a lovely time along the way without the main goal to go up and down.

I recommend if one comes here for a trek and puts all that effort into bringing or buying the right gear, deciding the trail, picking a company or on your own, you allow yourself time to not only enjoy the trek at your leisure, but make sure to stay in the town of Pokhara on either end. Tea houses along the way are a pleasure to stay in and getting to meet local mountain people is part of the experience!

For anyone wanting to experience the great Himalayas by not just trekking but actually living, Pokhara is the place to be for any creative writing, thinking, personal explorations and fresh insights. There are inexpensive lovely hotels on the lake and airbnb is the way to go for longer than 2-3 week stays.

One of the refreshing things I enjoy here is also the relaxed clothing options. Since there are a lot of trekking type folk passing through, I feel more relaxed wearing shorts and t shirts than I normally would around town. Make sure to pop into some of the art galleries that have incredible hand painted Thangka’s, a Tibetan form of art that is painted mandala style. The imagery up close is so detailed, and it is wonderful to speak with the actual artists that paint them.

Local food is very inexpensive and healthy, local people smile at you and are very pleased to have you enjoy their village. I feel no pressure here to buy as I have other places in SE Asia and recommend a Himalayan trip for your itinerary soon! Happy holidays and celebrations of life everyone!


Nepal paintings and culture


Margaret adventure to Nepal

Margaret has been on the road for 14 months and has been circling around Thailand getting to know other SE Asian countries as she studies medicinal plants and local indigenous ways. Painting watercolours that represent her experiences has been a creative process along with learning new forms of bodywork, yoga and healing techniques. She is now in India and can be followed on her website through most forms of social media, enjoy!








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