There is not a lot to see in Mangnai except if you are interested in the mining business. And, more specifically, in the asbestos mining. An interesting page from 10 years ago -> -> Shimiankuang <-
Assuming that we have arrived to Mangnai, we may try to cross the Tsaidam from North to South, towards Golmud. There is a road marked on the map, but, as there is not a lot of geographical accidents in there, this “road” may be a dusty local path. But, as in Google Earth the path is marked by photos (like scattered breadcrumbs left by some Tom Thumb) we may assume that the road exists. A major village marked in this road is Urt Moron, near the Senie Lake, which is a brine (salt) lake. Bathing is a salt lake is an experience, it is absolutely different to anything known before, the “tact” of the water es different, gliding, like inmersing in a liquid pearl.
If possible, it would be fine to find a transport to Golmud through Urt Moron, and, eventually, even to stop at Urt Moron, to see what the Qaidam looks like. In the Tsaidam, a “must see” for whoever loves deserts, are the “Yardangs”
“A yardang is a streamlined protuberance carved from bedrock or any consolidated or semiconsolidated material by the dual action of wind abrasion by dust and sand, and deflation which is the removal of loose material by wind turbulence. Yardangs become elongated features typically three or more times longer than wide, and when viewed from above, resemble the hull of a boat. Facing the wind is a steep, blunt face that gradually gets lower and narrower toward the lee end. Yardangs are formed by wind erosion, typically of an originally flat surface formed from areas of harder and softer material. The soft material is eroded and removed by the wind, and the harder material remains. The resulting pattern of yardangs is therefore a combination of the original rock distribution, and the fluid mechanics of the air flow and resulting pattern of erosion.”
The “normal” road (E 315) goes East, to find the E 215, Urumqi-Golmud Highway, and from them on, Qaidam Zhen.
Travel plans are to continue towards the Kokonor (Qinhai Lake) in bus, but, eventually, plans may change, and our route now almost follows the train line from Beijing to Lhassa, so, we may use train, or bus, at our convenience.
note: trains may be taken at Gormud or Delingha (250 East of Qaidam Zhen), but probably there are stations between this two cities.
Photo credits: all photos, but the Yardang, are from the Author, taken in the sorroundings of San Pedro de Atacama (Chile)