Bumbugur, Mongolia

Bumbugur was a rundown one-horse town with no trees but plenty of dust and goats and a well patronised pool table on the roadside in the centre of town. I don’t think many tourists passed this way as people were peering around corners at the ‘strangers in town’. Even the dogs barked at us for good measure.

We stocked up at the local shop with sardines, pickled cucumbers, biscuits and water, with the whole bus in tow to see what we bought. Then we sat down to try our luck hitchhiking. But with only the occasional motorbike our choices were limited and the day dragged on through the heat. A couple of people visited us as we sat there including two older herders and a grandson. They told us we could refill our nearly empty water bottles at the pump station in town which was operated by an old fashioned hand pump with deliciously cold water.

We pitched our tent out of town and slept like logs after a basic meal and some cool beers.

6. hitching from bomburger - jen
There wasn’t much traffic for hitchhiking  [Image: Jennie S]

Bayankhonhor to Bumbugur – repairs

Eight hours later we arrived in Bumbugur after only two flat tyres. Mongolian roads test even the toughest vehicles with their potholes and rocks that leave huge holes as if gnawed by giant rats.

The first repair job involved removing two inner tubes, reinserting them, then reinflating them. Theoretically it would take twice as long to deflate if there were two inner tubes. This worked for the first hour until they both deflated again… The second repair job took longer and involved sticking a patch of rubber onto an inner tube with petrol. We spent an hour and a half sitting on the side of the road while this took place, on a dry dusty plain at the edge of the Gobi.

We eventually made it to a ger where one of our passengers got off. The lady (whose baby had been collected later in afternoon) invited us all in, but as we were 10 in total we shared sips and bites of the offered tea and marmot amongst us. The marmot was warm and greasy and delicious and I temporarily forgot that it often carries the plague.

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