Wangzhang Salt Bridge

Last updated by drwi at 2013-11-3

Wangzhang Salt Bridge, which encircles Qarhan Salt Lake, is not really a bridge but an elevated roadway, while it is literally made of salt that is piled up and packed, in much the same way that one would build up earth and sand in order to create an elevated roadway on which to lay an asphalt or concrete surface. In the case of Wangzhang Salt Bridge, the entire roadway (corresponding to the earth, sand and final surface layers) is made of salt. The zhang of "wangzhang" is an ancient Chinese unit of measure corresponding to 10 chi, where a chi was equal to 14.1 inches, meaning that 1 zhang was equal to 11 ¾ feet. "Wangzhang" therefore means "many (or countless) zhang".

There are pluses and minuses with this form of roadway, the former being that the road can easily be repaired by simply filling potholes with crushed salt, then adding a bit of water (when the water evaporates, the salt surface is seamlessly repaired… a bit like repairing a ding in an automobile windshield with "liquid glass"), while the latter is that the glass-smooth salt surface tends to be slippery, which is why the speed limit on Wangzhang Salt Bridge has been fixed at a maximum of 80 km/hr.

There are a few remarkable things in life that one can experience as a traveler, such as crossing the International Dateline (and sometimes arriving before one has departed!). Wangzhang Salt Bridge belongs to that category, so if you find yourself anywhere near the city of Golmud in Qinghai Province, do make a detour that will take you across Wangzhang Salt Bridge, so that you can boast to your friends that you have experienced something that is even more unique that crossing the International Dateline.

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There is minibus that runs between Golmud and Wuyi Market in Qarhan that will set you back about 20 Yuan (per person).

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