Nov - Dec of 2004
John and Blanche Peterson traveled to India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka on a 5 week trip
that they had been planning for many years.   John says "We really had a great trip,
but it is always good to get home and have some food without curry."

There is a tragic PS to this story:
On December 25th (about 7PM ET) an earthquake, 8.9 on the Richter scale, occurred in the Indian Ocean.   These Tsunami waves were the worst experienced in over 40 years in this part of Asia.   Over 23,000 people are known dead as of Dec. 27th - over 12,000 on the island of Sri Lanka alone.   Hardest hit were the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.   The Maldivian island of Velavaru that we visited was one of the hardest Maldivian islands hit.   They had water 6-8 feet high.   This island is being evacuated and is in total darkness as this is written.
We are praying for all the victims.

John with two long time Australian friends, Doug and Bill at the Taj Mahal near Agra, India.
Blanche Peterson with Aussie friends Judy and Ruth at the Bahai Temple in Delhi.

From the Western Ghats (mountains that run N and S, generally between the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu):

Indian oxen or cattle near the Tata tea Plantations at Munnar, Kerala State
Tata tea plantations
IECA President Doug Wimble from Sydney Australia and John
at Mahindra with the reservoir and tea in the background.
On Nov. 26th, while staying at the Lake Palace, we took a boat ride to see what we could see.
We were very fortunate to see a number of wild elephants - up very close.

Pictures from the Maldives:
On Dec. 3rd we visited a neighboring inhabitant island with the Velavaru Island Resort manager as our guide. It was about a 40 minute boat ride west of our resort island.   It was a Maldivian holiday and visitors from another island were there visiting relatives, so the town was festive. I am guessing the population was only about 1200 residents, and have no idea, other than fishing, what they do for income.

Sunset on the Maldives.   The Maldives consist of about 1200 islands with maybe a couple of hundred of them inhabited.   The average maximum high points of the islands are just 4 to 5 feet above sea level.
Islander harvesting coconuts from tree, and then preparing one for me to drink.

John drinking fresh coconut milk.
The one room, open-air school where they have grades 1-12.
Since they have over 300 students they operate in 2 half-day shifts.
They have 18 teachers and supervisors in the school.

From Sri Lanka:
Peradeniya Botanical Gardens near Kandy, Sri Lanka
The Gardens were initially established in the 14th century by King Vikrama Bahu III.
The gardens now cover about 360 acres, and contains 4000 species of plants
from all around the world.   It contains a spice garden which provides an introduction
to the long-practiced medicinal science of Ayurveda.
Temple of the Tooth

Thanks to the US Geological Service for the map of the earthquake and the resulting tsunami, and to Bruce Wallace at the USGS Information Center for suggesting some interesting web sites.   Check out these sites:
U.S. Geological Service earthquake page
International Tsunami Information Center

The earthquake was centered where the star is on the map below, about 100 miles off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island at a depth of about 6.2 miles.   After shocks greater than 2.5 on the Richter scale are shown with red circles.
The numbered countries are:
     1) Sri Lanka       2) India             3) Thailand
     4) Malaysia        5) Indonesia      6) The Maldives
This earthquake displaced a lot of water which caused waves to radiate out in all directions.   These waves can travel outward at speeds up to 500 miles per hour.   Then as it approaches land and shallower waters the waves slow down and increase in height.   The contour lines on the map represent the time it took the tsunami to radiate out from the center.   You can see that it took about two hours to reach country numbered 1, Sri Lanka.
The Maldives include some 1,200 coral islands which stretch from the south western tip of India all the way to the Equator.   The average island size is one to two kilometers with an average height of 1.5 meters above sea level.   The highest point on any of the islands is about 8 feet above sea level.   The Hilton Hotel website on the Maldives Island of Rangali says "it has sustained no damage from the tidal wave of 26 December, 2004."
   Assembled December 28, 2004 by Owen Lee