This stage of Simon Reeve's journey takes him from Sri Lanka to Bangladesh. He starts in Sri Lanka, where Chinese money has helped end a 30-year war.
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The Indian Ocean.
Home to the world's most exotic islands
and beautiful and rare wildlife.
I'm travelling through 16 countries around the edge of this vast ocean
that stretches 6,000 miles from Africa to Australia.
Steeped in history, the Indian Ocean is vital to world trade.
It's a journey of extremes, from stunning islands,
across pirate-infested seas,
to remote villages.
And war-torn lands.
What was that?
This is a journey about much more than just what's under the waves.
It's about the lives of the millions of people who live around this,
one of our greatest oceans.
This part of my journey will take me across the island of Sri Lanka
to India's east coast and on to Bangladesh.
I'll be finding out what our love of prawns is doing to our oceans.
I'm absolutely amazed by how few fish there are.
I'll be helping Indian villagers who are fighting to save our seas.
I don't think it's good to be the tallest person!
And in Bangladesh, I'll see the graveyard where ships go to die.
with great huge chunks ripped off them.
I've only got a few more countries to visit on my journey,
but I've still got huge distances to travel,
and I'm starting this bit of my trip here on a beach on the island
they call "the Pearl of the Indian Ocean".
Sri Lanka is just half the size of England, but for centuries,
since before the time of Marco Polo, it's attracted
Indian Ocean travellers.
With my guide, Delon Weerasinghe, I've travelled to Galle,
formerly Sri Lanka's main port, and historically
the first point of entry for merchants who came here to trade.
There was one thing in particular that attracted
a lot of the travellers who came to Sri Lanka,
and Delon's taking me to see if we can buy some.
Look at this!
So that's cinnamon.
this is what drew travellers here from across the Indian Ocean?
And that's why it was, Sri Lanka was so prized
for the colonial powers came and, you know, took over Sri Lanka,
because this was the only place you could get this particular spice.
Cos the spice trade was so lucrative,
they could make so much money from it?
Even now, 80% of the world's cinnamon
actually comes from Sri Lanka.
-So this is the best stuff?
-From the place that it comes from?
'500 years ago, the spice trade drove European exploration
'of the Indian Ocean.
'The Portuguese, the Dutch and the British all colonised Sri Lanka
'and fought wars to control the spice trade.'
The best sticks are the ones that are most tightly packed,
-so this is actually...
-I knew you would know!
This is, this is kind of the bark but it's actually packed with little shavings of bark strippings
-that they take from the cinnamon as they peel it.
And that's what actually makes Sri Lankan cinnamon quite unique,
when you look at it.
I'll just have just two sticks, let's put that one back.
We take spices for granted now, but just imagine
how it would have transformed the bland European diet.
Mmm, I'm looking forward to this.
I'll grind it up, and put it on my porridge.
Today, of course, you don't have to travel to Sri Lanka to get cinnamon,
but the country's still attracting the attention of foreign powers.
We're going to get a train around the coast, and guess what?
Here we go, is that a...?
-This one looks all right, yeah.
-Here we go.
-Yeah, this one?
-Let's get in this one, yeah.
'Sri Lanka's railways were originally built by the British
'to transport tea.
'The country became independent from Britain in 1948.'
TRAIN WHISTLE BLARES
He likes using the old whistle, eh?
People like to walk along the train track,
so this is one way of letting them know the train is coming.
Today, there's a new superpower showing an interest in Sri Lanka.
We headed along the island's southern coast
to a new port called Hambantota.
Oh, I'm lacking a platform.
So, just over the horizon there is one of the most important
shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean,
one of the big east-west lanes that takes tens of thousands of ships
across the sea every year, including something like 4,500 oil tankers.
Much of the crucial oil is heading for China,
along Indian Ocean shipping lanes
that carry vast quantities of world trade.
Their proximity to Sri Lanka makes the island strategically vital.
China is flexing its muscles in the Indian Ocean,
and, controversially, it's financing an enormous new port here
that may one day host Chinese naval ships.
I think standing up here you really do get a sense
of the scale of the project, of the ambition of it,
because the ship over there, a couple of miles away,
that's near the entrance to the harbour, and the plan is for
the harbour to extend almost all the way up to where we're standing now.
We're talking about something that's the size of a town,
that is going to be carved out of southern Sri Lanka.
And if all goes to plan, this will become not just one of
the largest ports in South Asia,
but one of the largest in the whole world.
This is just one of a series of vast port projects around
the Indian Ocean that mark a major Chinese expansion into the region.
Chinese investment has contributed to Sri Lanka
having one of the fastest growing economies in Asia in recent years.
But the boom here comes at a price.
Sri Lanka is home to a unique type of elephant.
There's only a few thousand left and they're now endangered.
Across the island, the elephants' habitat is being taken over
by people who want to use land for industry or farming.
It's an issue affecting wildlife around the Indian Ocean.
I went to visit the elephant transit home, which looks after
elephants orphaned or injured by humans.
That is a demanding toddler!
I arrive just in time for lunch.
Here comes another one racing in for food!
There are several dozen elephants here, and even a youngster
can drink more than 40 pints of milk a day.
'Deepani Jayantha, from the UK charity the Born Free Foundation,
'took me to see a new arrival.'
Oh, this is Namal.
Look at its back leg.
So, found trapped.
He was caught in, literally in a trap or a snare,
-something like that?
-A snare, yes, yeah.
-Usually these snares are set for the bush meat.
And it's sad that little elephants get trapped.
So, people will try and set little traps to catch,
-I don't know, small deer or something...
-..to put food on the table.
-Yeah, wild boar.
But in this case, look what's happened to this little ellie.
That is the cost of the human-elephant conflict here, unfortunately.
'As the human population around the Indian Ocean rises dramatically,
'wildlife numbers are plummeting.
'200 elephants are killed in Sri Lanka every year by humans,
'but this project treats elephants
'and returns them to a protected area.'
Now, what was that noise?
I think he likes the company.
He knows that he's got attention,
so I think that's communication, saying hello.
You're talking with him, does that work?
I'm not even sure where that's coming from, rrrrr, rrrrr!
It doesn't sound quite the same.
I'm going to try my own version in my own dialect, OK?
Go more guttural.
I think a chocolate biscuit might work rather better. Namal!
Despite Namal's injury,
the hope is that one day, like all the elephants here,
he'll be well enough to be released back into a national park.
Until recently, Sri Lanka was gripped by a savage civil war.
The conflict was particularly severe in the far north of the island,
which has been off limits to foreign visitors for years,
and is still difficult to reach.
I headed to the city of Jaffna.
The civil war was fought between the Sri Lankan government
and militant group known as the Tamil Tigers,
who wanted the creation of a separate state
in the north and east of Sri Lanka.
We've arrived, it's late, it's dark, so we're going to head to a hotel
and then, tomorrow, we'll have a look around the north.
The weather is, it's very disappointing.
Yeah, if only we could have English weather!
-Sorry about that!
Less of that, less of that!
If we had English weather, we'd just have a nice, light drizzle.
We can't let a bit of rain stop us, we need to see Jaffna.
Most people in Jaffna are Tamils, who are mainly Hindus.
They form around 10% of the population of Sri Lanka
and have endured decades of discrimination
at the hands of the majority Buddhist Sinhalese population.
Increasing tensions between the two groups led to riots
and the outbreak of civil war in 1983.
During the conflict, both the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government
committed appalling atrocities.
The war claimed up to 100,000 lives,
and ended with the violent defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009.
Look at what has happened to the buildings.
They're just covered in dozens of bullet holes.
The roof on most of this is completely gone.
'Even schools in villages around Jaffna were bombed.
'Locals here are still living amid ruins.
'Ameneka from Save The Children took me to a makeshift school.'
Oh, look at where they're studying at the moment!
Good morning, sir!
Good morning! Vanakkam!
A cuter sight it would be hard to find on Planet Earth!
'But the curriculum here is dominated by the legacy of
'the island's violent recent history.'
I joined the children for a lesson they have twice every day.
Can we ask all of you, have any of you discovered any landmines
or anything that looks like a bomb
and you've had to alert your teachers or the authorities?
He found one of these? Good God!
And do you know what it is?
Shell? Artillery shell,
because it's got the size next to it, 64 inches.
I mean, it's a whopper of a weapon.
So, did you, did you pick it up, did you touch it at all?
No? Cos you knew not to, didn't you?
Thanks to the teachers at the school.
I think as much as anything that really brings home to me just,
just what's happened in this country,
just what's happened in this, in this region.
Imagine if British children had to be told every single day
about the dangers of landmines
and about the risks of them having a leg or an arm blown off.
It's almost impossible to, to contemplate.
Landmines and bombs are slowly being cleared away,
but there's clearly an urgent need to reconstruct homes and buildings.
It's now really bucketing down,
and this is why they need a proper school.
You can't have lessons outside in this sort of weather.
Save The Children is helping to rebuild this area of Sri Lanka,
and new schools are a priority.
The war's ended and reconstruction is under way, but there are
still many unanswered questions about how the Sri Lankan government
crushed the Tamil Tigers in 2009.
Helped by Chinese military aid,
and shielded by Chinese support at the United Nations,
it seems clear government troops committed serious war crimes,
including targeting civilians.
It's something the Sri Lankan government denies.
But this has become a dangerous place to ask questions
or criticise the country's leadership.
As I prepared to leave the island
and continue my Indian Ocean journey,
I passed through the capital city, Colombo,
and visited the offices of a campaigning newspaper called
The Sunday Leader.
We've been attacked nine to ten times.
We had a group of about 25, 30 armed people coming in vehicles,
forcing themselves in.
They got the security
and the staff who were printing to kneel down at gunpoint.
They brought gasoline, poured it around the machine
and set fire to it, and asked them not to move.
So they burnt your printing presses?
'Lal Wickrematunge is the outspoken managing editor of The Sunday Leader,
'which regularly criticises government politicians.'
He and his staff have suffered threats, attacks and beatings.
They blame the government for their harassment.
In January 2009, in the final stages of the civil war,
Lal's brother, Lasantha, the founding editor of the paper,
paid the ultimate price for speaking out.
He was killed not far from here when motorcyclists,
in total black outfits with black helmets,
waylaid him and shot him.
He was assassinated, he was murdered?
He was, he was murdered.
'Just a few days before he was killed, Lasantha wrote an article
'in which he predicted his own death.'
It starts with the headline "And Then They Came For Me",
and it says, "In the course of the past few years
"the independent media have increasingly come under attack.
"Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed.
"When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me."
And that was the last article he wrote?
It's an extraordinary piece of writing.
Do you feel that your life is, is threatened?
The death threats have kept coming, despite Lasantha's death.
In fact, the last one was just nearly two weeks ago.
When the current editor was sent a death threat.
Why are you still going on, why are you still publishing the paper,
let alone the articles, what keeps you going?
Well, that was what we set out to do,
and if we don't do that, Lasantha laid down his life for no purpose.
At least 16 reporters have been killed in Sri Lanka in recent years.
The government denies any involvement,
but Sri Lanka remains one of the world's most dangerous places
to be a journalist.
It was time for me to leave the island and head on.
My next stop was the Indian state of Orissa
on the east coast of the country.
My guide to this chaotic part of India was Abhra Bhattacharya,
an old friend from previous visits.
The State of Orissa is one of the poorest in the country,
so there are millions, tens of millions
of people here who make their living from farming and from fishing.
'And most of them seem to be on the same road as our car.'
Whoa, look, there's cars coming the wrong way down the road!
Get off the road! It's a dual carriageway going that way!
There are law-abiding citizens of India driving in the correct manner
that way, on the other side of the road, and there are numpty muppets
driving giant trucks directly at our vehicle on our side of the road.
The truck coming at us, and a van coming,
and then the blue truck coming the wrong way down the road!
Abhra, what on earth is going on here?
The road is new in this part of India,
they don't know how to use it yet.
I think it might be because people here believe in reincarnation, you know.
They're not that worried about ending their lives
in a fiery mess on the motorway.
I'm bloody worried about it!
We were aiming for a fishing port called Astaranga,
to head out into the Indian Ocean.
'It was a long journey, and once we were off the motorway...'
'It was time for a pit stop to soothe nerves after a traumatic drive.'
Abhra, this isn't quite what
I had in mind when I said about going for a drink.
I'm getting you fresh drink right from the trees.
What's going on here? What's he doing?
Well, he's sharpening his sickle.
Who is this gentleman, what does he do?
He actually gets the drink for everyone.
What is his curious little get-up here?
I just grabbed it, I'm very sorry, I'll put it back!
What's these pots there, what has he got?
That's the drink, that's the only source of alcoholic drink
the villagers have around here.
-An alcoholic drink?
That is, that is somehow obtained from the trees here?
Oh, dear, I just saw up his shorts!
Don't look, dear viewer, don't look!
What exactly are you doing?
Do you see what happens is they are chopping off
the upper layer of the bark
of the tree, and they make small channels.
So they tap the tree? OK.
They tap the tree, and when it's in the sun throughout the day
-it gets fermented.
'Once filtered of all the bugs that have collected in it during the day
'I was assured coconut toddy makes a delicious drink.'
Oh, my goodness! Let's give it a go.
Mmm. That's not bad, it's very good in fact.
Sweet, lightly alcoholic, I can taste.
Go on, Abhra, try some. That's good, cheers, mate.
-It's really good.
-It's really fresh.
Oh, drink it all, yes!
What is it about blokes and alcohol, eh? Argh, yeah!
Cheers there, Captain! Drink your own drink, yeah!
Very memorable, Abhra, and it's fantastic to see you again, mate.
After just a few more hours driving, we finally arrived
at the fishing port.
Hit by the smell of fish.
Slapped round the face by it!
'India is the world's second largest producer of seafood,
'but these fish are just
'a by-product of the main business here.'
-This is our boat.
'I was heading out with men who catch
'one of the most lucrative seafoods in the Indian Ocean.
They're trying to manoeuvre the boat from this cramped bay!
Out to sea!
There are at least 30,000 trawlers like this
up and down the Indian coastline.
India is actually one of the biggest suppliers of prawns
to British supermarkets.
Prawns used to be something of a luxury in Britain,
but a huge increase in prawn fishing here is one reason
prawns are now just a few pounds for a bag.
So how, Kilesh, how deep has the net gone now?
TRANSLATION: It's hit the bottom now. 100 feet down.
So, the net's now 100 foot down, 30 metres below,
and it's basically being pulled along the bottom of the seabed,
being dragged along by the sheer power of this, of this boat.
Can we have a look around the boat?
Come on, come and show us the boat.
TRANSLATION: This room is for the crew.
So this is where the guys sleep?
It's a very tiny little space,
and actually is this actually bunk beds, then?
So one person there and another person there?
TRANSLATION: Five people sleep here.
Five guys can sleep in here?
Whoa! That's a bit...
That's a bit tight, like this!
It's a bit cosy in there!
When you go out, what's your prize catch?
TRANSLATION: Prawns are the most expensive.
We get the best price for them.
The others are cheap and sell for a lower price.
So, you're mainly after the prawns but you'll bring up a lot of other stuff as well?
Like other trawlers, they use a fine mesh net on this boat
to catch prawns, with devastating consequences.
The nets will just take everything.
Yeah, of course, it'll be shrimps,
but there'll be an extraordinary amount of by-catch.
Now, the by-catch is a crucial issue in the Indian Ocean,
and around our seas globally.
By-catch is the other sea life that is brought up in the nets
along with the targeted catch.
Prawn fishing is responsible
for a third of the world's discarded by-catch.
That's tens of millions of tonnes of marine life
being caught unnecessarily each year,
most of which is just thrown away, dead.
After more than an hour of trawling, it was time to haul in the catch.
You've got these giant barn doors here which hold the net open
when it's underwater.
They're pulling those in and the net can't be far behind.
Dragging huge, heavy fishing nets for miles and miles along the seabed
also causes staggering damage to the marine environment.
Flipping 'eck, there's hardly anything in it!
But I found this the real shocker.
After years of being criss-crossed by thousands of trawlers,
these waters were almost empty of life.
For decades, bottom trawling nets
have scraped along the seabed off India,
fishing the seas to death.
The fine nets catch even tiny, juvenile fish which haven't had
a chance to breed, so fish stocks never have a chance to recover.
Abhra, does the amount of fish here surprise you?
Definitely surprises me, of course.
We were near the breeding area,
we should have got much more than what we got.
You can see a few of the prize shrimp in there,
this is what they've really been after.
'There's such a demand for prawns from the richer parts of the world,
'that poor fishermen in this part of the Indian Ocean
'are emptying the sea to get at them.'
Well, I'm absolutely amazed by how few fish there are here,
and, and worried as well, frankly,
cos we've dragged a huge net through the sea
for more than an hour and this is all that it's brought up.
The next morning, I headed a few miles along the coast to meet
Tuku Behera, a local conservationist concerned about
the impact of prawn trawlers on wildlife around the Indian Ocean.
Oh, God, now that's desperate.
The head of a turtle?
TRANSLATION: I noticed a rotting smell when we were passing by,
so I thought there might be a carcass here.
How many dead turtles do you find along the beach here?
TRANSLATION: Every year, on the Orissa coast,
about 10,000 to 15,000 dead turtles get washed up due to illegal fishing.
To make the mortality figures look lower,
Forest Department bury the turtles.
If we didn't report it to the media,
no-one would know the turtles are dying like this.
-Shall we cover it back up, Tuku?
'Tuku's village sits next to one of the world's largest nesting sites
'for the Olive Ridley turtle.
'To protect the turtles, trawling is supposed to be illegal here.'
So what's this, what are these boats out here,
are these trawlers?
Yeah, some trawler here.
TRANSLATION: They're all trawlers, and this is a marine reserve.
Turtles have to come up to breathe every 45 minutes,
but they stay in the trawlers' nets for four or five hours.
They won't be able to breathe and they'll die.
'There's no real enforcement of the law here,
'so Tuku's taking direct action to protect the turtles.'
What the hell is this?
Ah wait here, wait.
What are these structures, Tuku?
TRANSLATION: We've made this artificial reef.
We're hoping that fish will come and make it their breeding ground.
And if people drop their nets on it, the nets will get damaged,
so they can't do any bottom trawling.
My God, you know, I can, there's more of them all around us.
TRANSLATION: We've put about 80 of them in the sea already,
and there are still about 65 left to go.
We're slowly putting them in.
How much do they...
How the hell do you get them in the water?!
TRANSLATION: You can't do it by yourself. We need lots of people.
Abhra, you get on the front,
I'll get on the back, we'll do it together, mate!
Come on, everybody!
Oh, flipping 'eck!
I don't think it's good to be the tallest person.
I'm loving this.
These are people actually doing something to protect the ocean.
SHOUTS AND CONVERSATION
Well, the plan is to tie both boats together
and then we're going to motor to the drop area.
'Tuku places the concrete blocks in a formation designed
'to make trawling in the area impossible.'
I think he's checking where to put it on his GPS.
Congratulations, Tuku. Well done mate, very impressive.
'With another concrete block laid in the water,
'it was time for a celebratory swim.'
Into the Indian Ocean! Come on! Arrgh!
Come on, then!
Well done, mate, congratulations, another net ripper in the water.
It's beautiful here.
I just found out, though, that despite all Tuku's great work to try
and save the sea off the coast here,
there are plans to build a whopping great port not that far that way,
with potentially disastrous consequences for this area.
Along the 300-mile coast of Orissa, there are plans to
build up to 15 new ports, one every 20 miles.
I travelled on from India towards Bangladesh.
I drove north up the coast to the border.
You see the trucks on the left here queuing up to get into Bangladesh.
Come here, mate.
-Cheers, mate. I hope to see you again.
-And have a nice trip, OK?
Thank you. We've still got a long way to go, our bags are going. I have to follow them.
-Hi, how are you?
-How lovely, what a greeting!
-Welcome to Bangladesh!
-Thank you very much indeed.
-Thanks for coming all this way.
-Nice to meet you. Yes.
From the border, I headed south-east, back towards the coast.
Much of Bangladesh is a giant tidal delta,
where the Himalayan meltwater meets the Indian Ocean.
If you want to get around, you need to find a boat.
-Morshed, after you sir.
-OK, thank you very much Simon,
-let's go together.
-Let's get on board.
My new guide, Morshed Ali Khan, a Bangladeshi journalist,
was taking me down river towards the sea.
Here we go, this will be our home for a few says.
They're taking off the anchor.
Anchor's coming up, engines have started, we're heading off.
As we headed south, we left Bangladesh's packed towns behind.
But as night fell, there was a major disadvantage
in having the only light for miles around.
we've got a few extra passengers on board.
Oi, quick, quick, quick!
Too many insects!
Oh God, I've got to keep the door closed.
I've got my pyjamas on,
I've got to get into bed,
too many insects,
so I'm going into the little,
little cabin here.
More like a coffin!
And I'm putting this in really tight!
There you go, that's how you survive in the tropics,
with a whopping big mozzie net.
Oh, that's better.
I think maybe I've got to turn the light out now,
and get you out as well!
'I'd seen in India how prawn fishing is damaging life in our oceans.'
'Farming prawns, or shrimp, on land is an alternative to fishing them
'out of the sea, and Bangladesh is a major producer of farmed prawns.'
-See, this is a shrimp processing plant, this.
From here it goes to Europe and America.
-There's another over there.
This one there, and others coming up over there under construction.
-So there's four...
-There's three here and one just being built?
-And these are all prawn, shrimp processing plants?
My goodness. That gives you a sense,
a real sense of the scale of the industry here.
I hadn't realised prawns were so important to Bangladesh.
Yeah, it is very important nowadays because, you know,
it brings in a lot of hard cash from Europe and America.
-In exports, yes.
There is another one here behind you on this side.
My God, they're everywhere!
Bangladesh is perfect for prawn farming, with vast areas
of low-level land easily flooded with salt water at high tide.
'Morshed was taking me to one of the hundreds of farms
'in this part of the country.'
All right, mate?
'But first we headed for one of the few tall buildings in the area,
'so I could get a better idea
of how widespread prawn farming has become.'
This is all for...all prawn farms?
As far as you can see, all prawn farm, all salt water.
It's like an inland sea.
It's all prawn.
Now they're drying up to treat it with some chemicals.
-To kill off parasites in the mud or something?
Around 40% of the prawns eaten around the world today are farmed.
Demand is so high, particularly from Europe and the US,
that more than 35,000 prawn farms now operate in Bangladesh.
The scale of it is pretty breathtaking.
The prawns are sold internationally
by large firms and wealthy middlemen,
but they're often farmed and produced by networks of villagers.
Many were persuaded to get into the business
by the promise of short-term gain,
or because other farmers flooded their fields.
Here we go, lots and lots of giant prawns.
Here is some...black tiger.
-This is the black tiger prawn?
-Yes, this is what you like most.
So here we are, this is what everybody's after,
black tiger prawn. It's what the farmers want here
because they get the best price for this when it goes for export,
because this is what people want to eat in Europe, America, Asia.
How many prawns can you take out
from your patch of farm area on a good day?
TRANSLATION: Every year we can get
about 400 kilograms of prawns from one acre of land.
Are you making a good living from the prawns then?
No. I have to buy everything, even water.
What I earn from the prawns, I spend on the things I need to live.
Have you always farmed prawns or did you use to farm crops
before you switched to prawns?
I used to grow rice, which was good,
but when everyone around me leased their land to prawn farmers,
I had to start farming prawns too.
Oh really? Presumably then your land had been inundated with salt water?
Awash with salt, almost all the land around here
is now unsuitable for growing crops.
Apart from prawns there's very little else,
except salty and fertile mud.
Flipping heck, I'm going to get stuck here!
-Let's go that way.
-That side, OK.
'Prawn farming is an important industry around the Indian Ocean,
'but it's a risky business
'and once farmers switch to prawns, it's hard to switch back.'
'Morshed took me off on a local taxi
'to show me what can happen when prawn farming fails.'
THEY SHOUT IN BENGALI
And tell him not to go round the South Circular!
Prawn farming puts villagers at the mercy of powerful middlemen
and fluctuating global prices.
Western supermarkets are always driving prices lower
so the average village prawn farmer here earns very little.
But perhaps the biggest problem for villages is that
after land is flooded with salty water, farmers are unable to grow
the crops they need to eat and survive.
This area was being used to cultivate prawns
and then just a few years ago the people here decided they wanted
to start growing crops instead, and they planted rice,
but the rice died.
The reason is, once you've let salty,
saline seawater on to farmland, it basically ruins it.
'And that's why some people in Bangladesh
'wish they'd never switched to farming our prawns.'
Morshed took me to see one village that had resisted
the lure of prawns, and the salt water that comes with them.
-Is this it here, Morshed? Not really a landing point, is there?
-Oh, flipping heck! You go first then.
-OK, I'll go first.
-I've got you just in case you sink.
Oh, my goodness. Oh, my... Right, shoes off.
-Think you were wearing shoes...
-It's fine man.
Hang on, I'm coming.
Oh, wow, I'm going down!
-This is the stickiest, gloopiest mud...
-..I have ever been in.
I can't get my left foot out.
Help me out of this.
Morshed, you've a right approach to life, haven't you?
Do this, do this, let's have a dance here!
These are happy people here, you know?
Please rescue us from the mud.
Thank you, sir. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
-Ah, look at over the other side.
-Yeah, you can see the difference.
So this is rice in the field, isn't it?
-Yes, this is rice, this is paddy.
Food, you can see all these fruit trees around.
-Birds, I can hear birds as well.
It obviously is a very poor village,
but it has got a real feeling that there is life here.
It's not dead and sterile in the way the prawn farming villages are.
This is Rekharani, Simon.
What are you growing here, Rekharani?
TRANSLATION: We've got mangoes,
we've got cherries,
we've got lots of different kinds of fruits.
We grow vegetables, pumpkins and lentils.
We grow crops all year round.
Why do you not want to farm prawns here?
Why have you, why are you farming like this, instead?
People who have turned to prawn farming
now have to come to us to buy vegetables.
Even to buy water.
That's why we don't want to farm prawns.
If we didn't let them use the water from our ponds,
they wouldn't have any water to drink or to cook with.
When people start prawn farming in this low-lying country
the salt water can get everywhere,
polluting any sources of fresh water.
So this is one of the crucial differences, of course,
with the prawn farming villages, because they can use the water here,
not just for cooking, but also to put on their crops, to grow food.
You can't do that if you've converted to prawns.
If you convert to prawns, you've got salt water,
it's no good for anything, really.
Except, for growing prawns.
Trawling for cheap prawns is harming the ocean.
Farming cheap prawns often damages the environment on land
and can blight the lives of villagers.
Supermarket prawns in the west are much cheaper than they used to be,
but some people here in Bangladesh are paying a heavy price.
It was time to explore the rest of Bangladesh
and we headed east.
Bangladesh is a beautiful country and one of my favourites,
yet it doesn't attract many tourists.
But further round the coast, we stopped off at Cox's Bazar,
Bangladesh's great hope for an Indian Ocean resort.
There's an amazing amount of development underway here.
Big hotel going up there, hotel going up here,
at least one hotel over there.
The place is basically a building site.
Oh, my God!
Look at this.
Now that is definitely what you want to see
when you're coming in to a beach resort.
It may not have the finishing touches in place, just yet,
but Cox's Bazar has one very big advantage
when compared to other seaside resorts.
It's the starting point for a beach
that stretches for 70 miles down the coast,
making it one of the longest in the world.
-I'm very impressed, Morshed. Very impressed.
I've been on a good few beaches while we've been travelling around the Indian Ocean
and this is spectacular.
What's going on here?
Ah, this is one of the watersports we have.
Cox's Bazar is home to Bangladesh's first surf school,
run by Zafar Alam.
How are you? Ah, this is Simon.
-All right, Simon...
-Lovely to meet you.
You've got warm water, easy, easy waves to learn on.
-A good place to start surfing?
I have no idea, man, what you are talking about.
I have never surfed in my life!
I give you 100% guarantee, one minute surfing
you can stand up. I give you 100% guarantee.
-That's a pretty good deal!
-What about for Morshed?
-What about for me?
-Yeah, same thing, same thing.
-Yeah, same thing.
-All right, we'll take you up on that, mate.
Much to my surprise, I managed to stand up,
albeit on some pretty tiny waves.
Morshed gamely had a good go at it.
But, clearly, he had a dodgy surfboard...
..and was up for a refund.
This is really not my cup of tea man!
I'd better do it in the bath tub!
It's a lot of fun
and a lovely little treat,
as we near the end of this part of the journey.
I'd like to catch a few more waves but I think we should get in
and get on the road.
We headed a short way along the coast to Chittagong,
Bangladesh's second city.
It's a massive port and connects the Bangladeshi economy
with the rest of the world, via the Indian Ocean.
What on earth?!
Can we stop, can we stop? Look at this!
-Come on, let's go and have a look.
-This is bizarre. Come on, Morshed.
They've got hundreds of them, but they stretch down the river here.
It's like a car park for lifeboats.
So where are these from?
Ah, some of these are from the ships
which are being broken here, ocean-going ships.
Look, there's one here, Portsmouth!
-It's a big industry in this part of the world, Simon.
But here the end of life ships from around the world are recycled.
When they're about 35 years old,
they're sent here to be dismantled, piece by piece.
You can see one of the pieces here, there are a million others.
I'd heard that every year hundreds of enormous ocean-going ships
from around the world are brought here to Chittagong to be scrapped,
but the Bangladeshi government doesn't want outsiders to see what's happening here,
and we were warned we might be arrested if caught with cameras.
We're entering the ship breaking area now
so we're going to have to turn off our cameras and hide them away
until we get onto our boat.
I was keen to see the ship breaking yards
so we came up with an unusual way of getting closer.
We're on a boat, but we're actually on land.
We're being pushed on our boat across super-slimy mud
out to another boat that we're going to take up and down the coast.
We're reliably informed it is actually in the water.
The owners of the ship breaking yards
won't allow TV cameras onto their beaches.
But getting our own boat meant we could see the wrecked ships
from the sea.
We're having to be a bit careful, another boat has come up to ours.
I think, just to take some clothing off,
but we're just trying to make sure they don't see our large cameras.
CONVERSATION IN BACKGROUND
MORSHED: OK, we're coming.
The guys were getting a bit jumpy and concerned.
When we got out onto the water,
it soon became clear what the fuss is about.
This is a really awesome sight, isn't it?
Giant ships with great huge chunks ripped off them.
My God, look over there, they've peeled away the side of the ship.
The scale of this is just incredible.
But the...the whole of the back is off this one and this one,
and then there's more stretching out into the distance,
we can see dozens of them.
Look at all the oil in the water down here.
Black gunk floating on the surface.
There's no question, it's coming from these ships.
Every year, scores of tankers and container ships
are deliberately rammed onto this ten-mile stretch of beach.
It's a filthy and highly dangerous business.
The workers descend on the ship and start to tear it apart.
-What do they use?
-They use blowtorches, hammers, axes,
anything they have.
Hundreds of them, even children are employed here, you know.
And is that one of the reasons why people aren't happy for us
to film it from shore, because we'll see the children working?
That's right, that's right.
Children working and workers dying, every now and then.
Sometimes they fall off from a height of a six-storey tall building.
Sometimes they're crushed under heavy metal falling on to them.
Sometimes they are suffocated inside a gas chamber.
So people are...there are accidents here fairly regularly then by the sounds of it?
Very regular accidents, very regular.
About eight people die a month.
But that's hundreds over the recent years, then?
Yet in a poor country like Bangladesh,
thousands of people are willing to take the risk
in return for wages of just a few pounds a day.
There are about 40 ship breaking yards here,
each run by a different businessman.
Though they may not be seaworthy anymore,
the ships are still worth a fortune as scrap metal
and yard owners will pay a few million dollars for each one.
The main road from Chittagong is lined with scrap dealers.
Almost every last fragment of the dismantled ships
is salvaged and recycled.
And they'll sell these on?
They'll sell the engines on?
Yes, they will sell the engines. See...
A huge proportion of the value of the dead ships
is simply the metal.
The ship breaking yards claim they supply more than half of
Bangladesh's steel and there's a great deal more on offer.
-Look at this!
Are you selling these toilets?
-Is this from you?
-Who buys these?
Perfectly functional, all right...
Granted it's a little bit mucky at the moment.
I've stayed in hotels that are worse than this!
See this isn't a chuck-away country,
this is a country where stuff is reused.
South of Chittagong lies the River Naf,
which marks Bangladesh's border with Burma.
So I've reached the very edge of Bangladesh.
That's Burma over there, on the other side of the river.
It's opening up a little bit but it's still a very repressive country
and this part of my journey ends here.
I'll be sorry to leave Bangladesh,
it's a country I've got a real soft spot for.
On the next bit of my travels, I'll be heading to Australia
where I'll be finishing my entire journey around the Indian Ocean.
'Next time, on the final leg of my journey,
'I visit Indonesia and help harvest a future wonder crop.'
'In Western Australia,
'I have a close encounter with a mighty predator.'
It's biting. Oo-er! God, look at those teeth!
'Before I reach the end of my Indian Ocean journey
'at spectacular Cape Leeuwin.'
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
This stage of Simon Reeve's journey around the spectacular Indian Ocean takes him from Sri Lanka to Bangladesh.
The island of Sri Lanka, with its strategic location and tropical spices, was a target for invaders and colonisers for centuries. Now the Chinese are building a huge new port in the south, and Chinese money has helped the Sri Lankan government bring a 30-year war to an end. Simon also visits the north of the island - scene of vicious battles between fighters from the Tamil minority and the Sri Lankan army.
Heading north, Simon investigates one of the Indian Ocean's fastest growing industries - providing prawns for the West. Off the coast of India, thousands of prawn trawlers drag their nets along the sea bed devastating the marine environment. In Bangladesh, huge prawn farms flood the fertile land with salt water, which also causes concern for the environment. It is all to provide cheap prawns for Western supermarkets.
This leg of the journey ends with one of the most amazing sights of the whole Indian Ocean: the ship-breaking beaches of Chittagong, where dozens of huge tankers and container ships are beached before being broken up for scrap by vast armies of low-paid Bangladeshi workers living in terrible conditions.