Welcome to Western Sichuan
This is the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a territory that corresponds roughly with the Kham (in Chinese 康巴; Kāngbā), one of old Tibet’s three traditional provinces. It is home to more than a dozen distinct Tibetan tribes, the largest being the Khampas, historically fierce warriors and horsemen.
Each season brings its own rugged beauty. In spring and summer many remote towns and monasteries can feel abandoned as villagers head out to harvest byar rtswa dgun bu (虫草; chóngcǎo) – cordyceps in English – a medicinal caterpillar fungus that grows on the alpine slopes and retails for outrageous amounts in lowland China and increasingly throughout the world.