Bombo The Jeju Hiking Dog

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Bombo The Dog – Hiking With Me On The Jeju Olle

The Olle on Jeju Island off South Korea can be compared to the Camino I guess. It did actually get started in 2006 when Suh Myung-soo completed the camino and brought the idea home to South Korea. Olle in Korean means stroll. Not walk – stroll and that is how they encourage you to do the Olle. Take you time and take in the beautiful scenery. 

How It All Started

I think I was on about day 3 of the trails. I only had about 13 days so I knew I wouldn't get them all finished but I was really enjoying the few days I had done at this point. Not being sure of the bus timetables I was at the bus stop early and so got to the start of today's trail very early and decided to stop for a coffee at this sweet little cafe before I started walking.

I drank my coffee, read some of my book and got my pack on the headed out. I was just at the end of the path to the cafe when this lovely little golden fluffy dog trotted up to me and rolled on the ground for a belly rub. I was missing Miss Monroe terribly at this point so I played with him for a few minutes and headed off.

I must have been a kilometer down the trail before I realised he was trotting along next to me. No matter what I did he wouldn't go back, so I turned around and walked back to the café with him. He still wouldn't stay so I went back into the cafe to ask if they could keep him while I walked off. 

In very halting English the owner tells me: “He walk. He walk with you. He Bombo.” I told her I was walking 15km that day but not to be deterred she insisted he walk. He OK. I'm not coming back though I told her. I'm catching the bus home. Yes Yes she says. He get on bus. You stop. He come home.

Oh shit! I was sure this was going to go horribly wrong and I was going to blow my budget on a taxi ride back to the cafe with this damn dog but I thought he would get sick of it and turn around anyway so I shrugged and left, Bombo in tow.

The Jeju Olle map

The Jeju Olle Map. 26 trails over 425km

Hiking with a canine friend is amazing

I never have trouble being on my own but I have to say it was so nice to have Bombo's company that day. Apart from a tug of war over some strawberries at lunch time (I lost – Bombo got the lions share of 9!), I loved my day with Bombo.

People would walk past me going the other way and smile, pat him and tell me how cool it was I was walking with my dog. I didn't correct anyone. I loved that they thought he was mine. What a 6″ tall Aussie woman would be doing with her dog in Korea I'm not sure but maybe they thought I lived there. 

Regardless Bombo was great company and while he didn't do too much talking I did find myself chatting to him along the way. He did seem to be very camera shy though. No matter what I did he would not stay still for me to take a photo of us together. 

Ganse the Jeju Olle symbol
Ganse the Jeju Olle symbol

The Bus Ride Home From My Day's Hike

I have to tell you that I was 100% positive that I was either walking back 16km's or getting a taxi when the bus driver wouldn't let me on the bus with a dog, however I was very surprised.

The bus pulled up, the door opened, Bombo skipped on (yes it was a definite skip) I climbed the stairs and paid the driver  who closed the door as if nothing happened and off we went. As I type this I'm not sure who paid for Bombo! I had only visited the starting bus stop for this Olle coming from the other direction so I was unfamiliar with how to spot it.

I had marked it on my phone and was watching the map to make sure we got the right stop. Bombo was asleep mid aisle and people just stepped over him as they got on and off the bus. Our stop got close and even before I could get up, the driver yells out “Bombo! Jib Bombo Jib!”

Bombo bounces up and without so much as a thank you for the strawberries, or the conversation or for getting him home safely, jumps out the open door and takes off down the path to the cafe. The driver tells me “Bombo Jib” and we drive off. 

A lovely local woman I met the next day on the following Olle tells me that Jib loosely means “go home” and that Bombo is very well known. He walks most days she says but usually he turns around about the 5km mark. He must have liked you she says. More like he could smell my prosciutto and cheese lunch I'm thinking. All the bus drivers know him apparently and all know where to let  him off. 

I have to be completely honest and say I was slightly miffed that Bombo didn't even look back at me when he left but then I think about the day I walked 15kms in Korea with my furry friend and I'm smiling again. 

Bombo the Jeju Olle hiking dog.

Bombo the Jeju Olle hiking dog.

Did I Ever See Bombo Again?

I'd like to think I would instantly recognise Bombo again, however the more time I spent on Jeju the more obvious it became that almost every dog on the island clearly has the same set of ancestors. There were apricot fluffy dogs everywhere and without his distinctive collar I am sad to say I probably wouldn't recognise him again. 

So while I spent a lovely day with Bombo (strawberry snacks aside), no I didn't see Bombo again, however I'm sure he has some other unsuspecting hiker firmly in his sights. 

Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.

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