Mountain Phoenix over Tibet has a good account of traveling through Kham this summer. Having been not too far from these areas myself this summer it’s an interesting take- it seems that the writer is of a Tibetan background, and is informed by stories from grandparents who lived in pre-Chinese Tibet:
In my head, Konkaling was “remote” even for Tibetan standards. If somebody had told me we would be going there this summer – yes, that very place Joseph Rock went to survey for the National Geographic ages ago and at the peril of his life – I would have replied: “No way, not with kids, and not on this trip, maybe some other time.”
But there we were, the whole family driving along to Konkaling described in old travelogues as “holy mountain of the outlaws”, a dangerous, lawless place infested with bandits; a godless area where even the Buddhist monks pillaged, plundered and – hold your breath – murdered!
When I was a little girl, my grandpa would sometimes tell stories about how the infamous Konkalingpas would raid towns and caravans along the old trade routes and how as a child he would hide for days in a monastery or in the mountains fearing for his life.
When I grew older I discovered books written by early travellers about the area. It became an interesting past-time to sit with my Pola in his room and cross-check what some of them had written in their accounts. He had a hell of a time whenever we talked about it. Often he could confirm points such as the name of a bandit chief or the raid of a specific town.