Arthur helps a little girl onto the Rainbow Warrior during an open boat day in Keelung, Taiwan.
At 4:30am the fish market of Keelung, in Taiwan, is awash with fish and people. Locals say it's consistently busy in this market, as consistent as the cold rain that hits the city 300 days a year.
Salmon, swordfish, tuna, octopus, and grouper combine to create the stench that sticks in one's undershirt. These fish are all destined for Taipei, as Keelung is but a port stop in the global fish trade.
We wanted to see how much seafood trade there is in Keelung. But the other 3 wet markets were not open, and nothing moved at the fishing harbor save for a man tending to parked SUVs and fishing boats moored to their restful stopover.
Our cabbie rang his English-speaking dispatcher: "try this market just 5 minutes away," she said. It was closed. "Well it's no good for fishing, these days," she concluded with a tinge of sarcasm.
More sarcasm came over coffee in the form of a photograph splashed over many a frontpage the world over: the giant bluefin on a cart in Tokyo. The headlines said it was such a remarkable feat, a business coup at almost US$400,000 for a 342kg endangered bluefin tuna.
Hong Kong and Tokyo's elite are expected to pay US$40 per slice of this tuna. Those not rich enough can never ever really appreciate such art and delicacy. And what about the etiquette: do you really chew this expensive tuna slice, or swing it inside your mouth from left to right then gargle a bit, or simply let it melt while wasabi attacks your nose?
Ughh wasabi burn, my head aches…
Asia's path to riches is indeed tinged with sarcasm and irony. And they all come in superlatives. It's that record-breaking pace of building coal plants against the worst droughts ever. It's that fastest forest destruction against biblical floods and mudslides. It's that most expensive fish that our children will probably never taste.
When the last tree is cut, the last fish caught and the last river poisoned, I will be in my condominium in the moon watching this all happen live through my iPad. (Yeah, Im being sarcastic too.)
Arthur is born in the Philippines, lives in Bangkok and claims to have Chinese ancestry. When not airing his gripes through Greenpeace, he usually takes photographs, writes articles and trains people in the field of communications.
The Rainbow Warrior is currently on a tour of East Asia to defend the Pacific.