After replenishing our food supplies (rice, pasta, tinned sprats, biscuits, vodka) in Bayankhongor, Jennie and I asked around at the market for furgons heading west towards Altai. Furgons are big Russian vans like kombis on steroids that can handle the toughest wilds of Mongolia. Eventually we found one heading to Bumbugur (Ъөмъөгөр) about 100kms west on the way towards to Altai. Perfect.
Once we’d secured our ride, we waited with the furgon for an hour or two while other travellers showed up. Then, in traditional Mongolian style, we drove around what seemed like the whole of Bayankhongor collecting people and objects from various locations including sacks of rice and babies, neither of which had wanted to sit around in the market all day waiting for the bus to leave. All up 12 people piled in which wasn’t too bad on the squish level.
A bicycle and a carpet were tied on the roof, but after a while the carpet worked itself loose to smack against the window. No one seemed to notice – they were all busy smoking, whether they wanted to or not. I started to turn a shade of green, but two guys managed to sleep through it all huddled on the luggage in the back. Mongolians have a neat trick of being able to fall asleep pretty much anywhere – sitting up in a minivan, laying down on a bed of rocks, or quite possibly even in the saddle. It’s a handy trait to pick up for trips to pass the time.
Amongst the travellers was a rather Russian looking lady, a young lad studying at college in UB, a weathered old man or two, a slick looking fellow returning from the city clad in denim and an older monk with Buddhist beads. Our driver was a scrawny well tanned chap with a perpetual grin whose optimism kept us cheerful despite sitting in the dust while we waited for the tyres to be fixed. We decided that he reminded us of a Mongolian version of Keanu Reeves, somehow. During the course of the trip we both received marriage proposals from Keanu and I was gifted a speck of gold from one of our fellow travellers who had been prospecting for gold.