Archive for April, 2010

Reference Database

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Odd thing to write about as first post in Korea, but I felt compelled.

Before I get any further though. I am here, arrived safely, despite the volcano god’s best efforts to the contrary.
I am still slightly sick, which together with the air pressure in the plane has seen fit to screw up the airpressure in my head. That’s right, despite being here for 70 hours my ears STILL HAVEN’T POPPED. Not only do I not understand the Koreans, I can barely hear them.
A fine way to start an adventure. Seems someone thought that with all the experience I have in these kind of things they decided to make a little bit more challenging.

Raph has been writing about the areas in Seoul and their characters and stuff. Raph is a city person, and she writes about stuff like that. I like my surroundings to be nature filled. So my first weekend included a trip to the closest patch of green I could find on the map. But more on that later.

Reference Databases. We all have one. You’d be surprised just how developed it is.
Let’s take Orange Juice.
Now, as a kid you always got the local supermarket’s brand, with the occasional freshly squeezed one on your birthday/easter or smthg. Your oldest friend’s mom shopped at the other supermarket and they therefor had that brand.
You made a new friend at, say 12, and on a stayover you are introduced to Appelsientje.
Your supermarket’s brand and that of your first friend didn’t really taste very different, his was slightly sweeter. But this Appelsientje . . . . wow, that’s a lot closer to freshly squeezed. Result: You nag your mother for that brand (Let’s hope this isn’t the same time that you first taste Coca Cola as well).
Now, you have 3 orange juices in your database. But with this one new friend was just the first of many and soon you have the cheap brands, the cheap supermarket’s home brand, the posh supermarket’s home brand, appelsientje dubbeldrink (with mango), cool best and if you’re not a total dope you’ve noticed not all freshly squeezed ones taste the same either.

By the time you first leave your parents’ home to fend for yourself you’ll have an extensive library of oranje juice reference files with comparative flavors and whatnot. Now it is time to add price/quality to that.

Then, one day, some years later you emigrate to South Korea.
You head to the store for some orange juice and find yourself faced with an entire wall of different brands of the stuff
You know it’s orange juice because the stuff in clear plastic containers is orange with bits floating around and everything has pictures of oranges on the cover.

So . . . . .
Now what? You have this extensive database in your head of relative tastes, flavours and prices. Yet, the only thing here you can clearly make out is the price. (4500 won. What the crap was that in Euros again?)

So you pick one at random

And you don’t end up with the cheap supermarket equivalent.
You don’t end up with the posh supermarket equivalent
You don’t end up with Appelsientje, Coolbest or freshly squeezed.

You end up with Orange flavoured lemonade.

Of course.


Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.

– Anon