Diversions

The Litang festival, slated this year for Aug. 1 and lasting for five days, is one of the biggest and brightest on the Tibetan Plateau. Given that it's just two days' drive from Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province, it's also one of the more accessible of the summer festivals that take place across what was once the ancient Tibetan kingdom of Kham—a sweeping expanse of grassland now incorporated into Sichuan, the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and the provinces of Qinghai and Yunnan. Many of the thousands of Tibetan nomads (or Khampas)—swathed in fox-lined cloaks, their necks strewn with red coral,...