Snakelike Gansu Province curves through northwest China, bordering Sichuan in the south and Qinghai and Xinjiang in the west. Although it is not vast compared to its neighbors, Gansu encompasses an extraordinary array of landscapes. The northwestern desert was once the end of the Chinese empire. The dry air and remote location helped preserve relics of the Silk Road, including the magnificent Mogao Caves in Dunhuang. In the south, beautiful green mountains are home to a largely Tibetan population. The Labrang Monastery, one of the most important in Tibetan Buddhism, is located in the small town of Xiahe, just along the border with Qinghai Province. Although getting to Gansu may be a bit of a challenge, the effort is more than rewarded by what you will see there.