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 a brutal end.
Simon also visits the north of the island – scene of vicious battles between fighters from the Tamil minority and the Sri Lankan army. The population is traumatised but at last there seems to be an opportunity to rebuild a shattered land.
Heading north from Sri Lanka Simon investigates one of the Indian Ocean’s fastest growing industries – providing prawns for the West.
Off the coast of India Simon travels on a prawn trawler, one of thousands which drag their nets along the Indian Ocean floor causing untold damage in their quest for prawns to send to countries including the UK.
Further north in Bangladesh huge prawn farms flood the fertile land with salt water, destroying the soil for years. It is all to provide cheap prawns in our supermarkets.
This leg 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.