After four days in UB, it was time to get out of the city and head to the countryside. Khovd was our next destination, located in western Mongolia and 36h away by bus. We bought our bus tickets the day before at the newly renovated Dragon bus centre. You can take bus 26 or 27 along peace avenue in UB to Dragon centre. The cost of the bus ticket is 65900T (~34usd) one-way for a distance of 1400km.
Be prepared for a long and less than comfortable journey. The bus is more affordable than taking the plane for the local people, so people would bring boxes and big luggages back to their hometown. Children would share seats with their mothers in order to save costs and the seats are not comfortable at all. After one day of traveling in the bus, my butt was bruised due to the bumpy roads. The aisle was packed with boxes, so you have to clamber over people’s luggages in order to get out. Luckily there were frequent pit stops along the way for meals and toilet breaks. The scenery was also changing from desert landscapes to mountainous terrains and sandy gravel roads. After a certain distance from UB, the paved roads gave way to unpaved gravel roads and it was surprisingly that the bus driver knew his way despite the lack of road signs and proper road markings.
On the bus, we were the only non-locals and the rest were very interested about our country and why we were traveling to Khovd. There was only one guy who could speak English and he translated the curious locals’ numerous questions for us. They even thought that we were on honeymoon. I passed around the postcards of Singapore and they were pleasantly surprised at the stark differences between the two countries. There was a sense of camaraderie among passengers as we shared food and we offered snacks to the children. The first night I couldn’t get much sleep because of a wailing baby. On the second day we adjusted and got used to sitting on the bus and made friends with the passengers.
We arrived in Khovd at 1.30am local time and the guy who spoke English kindly offered us to stay at his place as it was late. We gladly accepted and met his wife and mother-in-law who picked him up from the bus station. We are really grateful to his family for hosting us and they treated us well, cooking for us and made a giving us a nice place to sleep.