This photo was snapped in late 2010, on a group tour of Xiahe, in Gansu Province. While getting to the town, and the Labrang Monastery (Lābǔlèng Sì, 拉卜楞寺), can still be accomplished by foreign individuals without travel permits or the aid of a guide, the political climate and general attitude of local officials can make getting to the city difficult, and at times impossible. The monastery follows the Tibetan school of Buddhism, and since the Tibetan unrest of 2008 when some of the local monks in Xiahe voiced their support for the protests, the city has seen some of the same sanctions and political restrictions that have made traveling to Tibet a bureaucratic nightmare. (More after the jump... ) But a trip to Xiahe is well worth the effort, if you can work out the nuts and bolts. The monastery is the largest Tibetan monastery outside of Tibet, and the sight, sound and feel of worship can be felt all about the small streets mostly traversed by locals on foot. Outside of the city there are still vestiges of an older time, with nomadic Tibetans roaming the countryside and making a life on the grasslands (both the Sangke Grasslands and the Ganjia Grasslands are near Xiahe). So if you're looking for a place to relax, take in some Tibetan culture and see the Gansu landscape, take a trip to Xiahe and call it a day. If you've got some great images of China to share, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or add them to our China Travel Pics group on Flickr, and check out our Ctrip China Travel Flickr photostream while you're over there. Access the Flickr group via the Ctrip Community Page, a great social platform that brings together all the best China travel deals, travel tips and more!