Thursday, February 7, 2013

Navergating Daegu

For months, I've been hovering over Daegu. Soaring above it, silently observing it from a distance. 

"They look like... tiny, tiny little ants from up here."
Despite what some people may think, I am not the Bat Man. I was using Google* Earth, and this was pretty much as close as I could get to seeing what my city looks like:

If only I could see what it looked like at street level... 

All I wanted to do was see it on Google Street view, but unfortunately the Batmobile Google* car never made it to Daegu. So instead I resigned myself to Googling the Hangul place names and finding out what sorts of things there are in my neighborhood. My browser is set to automatically translate Korean, but it's not very good at it. This can sometimes have hilarious consequences, such as the restaurant whose name mistranslates as "Interpants". I plan to visit it as soon as possible.

I started marking interesting locations on a custom Google Map*, as well as the locations of my friends' schools, as they find them out. There are a few expat maps that have been made over the years, and I've tried to compile them into one general map of Daegu. But I can't verify the info until I get there. Challenge accepted. And I think that will probably give me something to do during desk-warming season.

Some of the places on the map are out of date, such as the Champs Action Bar which closed about a month ago, replaced by something called Caliente's (which sounds like it may be Mexican food). An expat currently living in Daegu told me about this. And then he told me something which blew my mind.

He said, in one tiny little facebook comment, "".


Street view of the stadiums from the Google Earth photo.
Well, it makes sense if Korea has their own massive search engine and mapping company that they'd have cut Google out, or made some sort of a deal. And when you get past the sea of incomprehensible Hangul, Naver Maps works in basically the same way. So here's a brief rundown on how to use it, based on my own fiddling.

First, open Naver maps by either clicking the link above or copying and pasting it into the address bar in your browser. I'm assuming you know how to use the internet if you've gotten this far, but we have to start somewhere. It will spit you out in Seoul, to begin with.

It should look like this. I've labelled the basic functions you'll need (in red, of course).

Click to see a bigger picture.
Some things that stick out to me:

Weather - now that is a useful feature, and it seems to live-update.
Subway and train information.
The cutesy aerial view button - oh, Korea.

It seems a bit cluttered but I bet it wouldn't if I could read Hangul a bit better.

To get to the city of your choice, type its name in the Location box. Hit enter. Thereafter the navigation is basically the same as Google maps or Google earth  - double click to zoom in, right click to zoom out. You can drive around in the Navermobile on the roads, or, and this is my favorite, tour your city's bike routes on the Navercycle.

I decided to check out the bike path along the river that bisects Daegu. To navigate street view you can either click around or use your arrow keys. For interest's sake, the red and green lines show the subway lines in Daegu.

Clicking street view makes blue lines appear on all the roads where you can explore. Click somewhere on one of them. 

Let the cycle tour down the river begin!
Apparently drinking in playgrounds is perfectly legal.

Korea's ajummas are actually superfit ninja warriors. She walks here from Busan every day.
Another way to stay fit for free is to use outdoor exercise equipment. In a country full of highways and overpasses, putting a gym underneath seems like a genius use of space to me. Provided the fumes don't kill you. 

Delivery mopeds have right of way everywhere. End of story.

March of the Ajeossis.

 I can't believe how great Naver Maps is, though. If you're not intimidated by all the Hangul then it looks like it can be incredibly helpful for getting around. So, yeah. I could spend hours doing this. But I can't wait to do it for real.

*This post was not sponsored by Google or Naver. If you work for Google or Naver and would like to offer me money for all this free advertising, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you. 


  1. I love Naver! There maps are great, as well as the dictionary section of their website which I use for all the words I don't know lol. They even have a bus app I believe. :)

    1. Yes! I've mentioned their dictionary before on this blog. It's brilliant! They kick Google's ass in everything except global coverage. ;)