Thursday, 13th August 2020

Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

From Paul Sochaczewski: Launch of Curious Encounters – Southeast Asia

Posted on 01. Mar, 2016 by in News and Events

Announcing the fifth book in the Curious Encounters of the Human Kind series

Special ebook launch price of 99 cents for two weeks

Paperback also available

ISBN: 978-2-940573-14-1
Buy on Kindle US
Buy on Kindle UK

I’m pleased to announce the release of the fifth of five books in the Curious Encounters personal travel tales series — a collection of stories I’ve written based on my 45 years of living and traveling in curious corners of Asia.

The five Southeast Asian countries highlighted in this volume – Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines – include economies in different conditions of health and evolution; political systems of varying degrees of style, maturity, and reliability; and a variety of religions, belief systems, and approaches to life. 

In some ways there is little that connects them except propinquity. Yet in other ways they are similar, combining deep and proud cultures, diverse nature (although not always healthy or well managed), and involvement in topsy-turvy geopolitical gamesmanship. Social patterns have also changed, brought on by improved infrastructure, education, healthcare, and communications. 

They are not always touchy-feely neighbors (witness Thailand’s spat with Cambodia over ownership of an ancient Khmer temple), and Laos and Cambodia, the poor guys in the middle of the Thailand/Vietnam sandwich, are squeezed for resources by their larger neighbors. The Mekong River, which flows through four of the countries mentioned in this volume, is being dammed without mercy; no good news there for the downriver nations. 

Meanwhile, the ogre of the Middle Kingdom consumes key parts of whatever flies, swims, grows, or crawls – tigers, pangolins, elephants, and tropical hardwood feature in the shopping lists. And China is claiming economically and strategically important territories in the South China Sea, but Vietnam and the Philippines, which claim the same territories, can do little about the bullying. 

But let’s go beyond the politics and saber-rattling; you can find such stories in the daily newspaper. In this new book I’ll share surprising encounters and provocative conundrums:

  • What’s the attraction of coffee that’s been digested by a civet? 
  • Can 200-million-year-old fossilized freshwater shark dung bring you good luck?  
  • Why do boys like to make things go bang – hey, lemme try the AK-47!?  
  • Why is the belching and slovenly widow of Laos’s first president so possessive about the animal she considers her white elephant?  
  • How did Vietnam’s last elephant hunter, at the age of 90, get a lucrative sponsorship deal for a tonic that makes men more powerful?
  • How do Vietnam’s “copy artists” capture Mona Lisa’s smile?
  • Did a love potion help a Filipino politician become governor? 
  • And what role did an absurdly rich, secretive American businessman (who enjoyed deflowering virgins) have in creating Vietnam’s golf boom?

This is Southeast Asia as you’ve perhaps never imagined, full of memorable people, startling happenings, and unexpected moments of humanity and introspection, giddiness and solemnity, avarice and ambition.


“In the great tradition of Asian reporting. The humanity of Somerset Maugham, the adventure of Joseph Conrad, the perception of Paul Theroux, and a self-effacing voice uniquely his own.”

—Gary Braver, bestselling author of Tunnel Vision

“The spirit of Kipling in contemporary Asian journalism.  This collection is essential reading for anyone who wishes to pass beyond even the unbeaten track, right to the heart of Asia.”

    —John Burdett, author of Bangkok Eight, Bangkok Tattoo, and Bangkok Haunts

“In this series, Sochaczewski explores the hidden corners, the forgotten people, and their surprising tales. All the personal traveler’s tales in these volumes are captivating, all filled with humor, drama and insight, with an edgy take-no-prisoners voice. You won’t find anything else like this on the bookshelf.”   

            —Jeff McNeely, chief scientist, International Union for Conservation of Nature

“Sochaczewski is a world-class searcher, reporter, and observer who has criss-crossed Asia for thirty years, pausing in the most unlikely places and finding extraordinary people. The essays in this insightful and witty chronicle present a rich tapestry of eccentric nobles, self-serving naturalists, scoundrels who will make your teeth ache, celebrity monks, and memorable folks whose stories are too good to be true. But they are.”

    —Christopher G. Moore, author of the Vincent Calvino novels and Heart Talk 

“If anyone can pull off something as innovative as Curious Encounters, it’s Paul Sochaczewski. Expect pellucid writing, insightful irreverence, and universal truths elegantly presented, in a genre that defies categorization.”

—John Keay, author of India: A HistoryChina: A History, and Mad about the Mekong



For the first week only (through March 7), I will offer the ebook at a special price of 99 cents/pence (prices may vary when ordered from other markets).

Buy Now on Kindle US

Buy Now on Kindle UK

After the introductory period, the ebook price will be $4.99.   

If you prefer a real book (I understand), you can buy the book as a paperback for $10.95

visit Amazon US for paperback

visit Amazon UK for paperback

Note: If you are Amazon-averse, the paperback should be available to order at any bricks-and-mortar bookstore, as well as through (US only).

Curious Encounters – Myanmar (Burma)
October 1, 2015
Curious Encounters –Indonesia
November 1, 2015
Curious Encounters – Himalaya
December 1, 2015
Curious Encounters – Borneo
February 1, 2016

May I ask for your help?
If you enjoy the books, I would greatly appreciate if you could:
1.  Share your thoughts with me through email – I’d also love to hear about your personal travel adventures and writing accomplishments.
2.  Tell your friends about the books.
3.  Write a review for Amazon. I understand this takes a bit of energy, but your honest feedback helps other readers and goes a long way in  generating sales. The Amazon review page is semi hidden—click on the link for Amazon US or Amazon UKscroll down to Customer Reviews, then click the box Write a customer review.
 I would be very grateful. Thank you.

And to help you write your own personal travel stories …

ISBN: 978-2-940573-15-8



January 1, 2016

Share Your Journey is an easy-to-use handbook for people who want to write their personal stories but aren’t sure how to start and how to make it interesting. It’s based on the writing workshops I’ve run in more than twenty countries.

“Paul’s Ten Tips, buttressed by some great to-the-point examples, will stand among the best advice a nonfiction writer can ever hope to have.”

—James Clad; former professor at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University; former Far Eastern Economic Review bureau chief in Malaysia, India, the Philippines; author of Behind the Myth: Business, Money and Power in Southeast Asia

“If I had to parachute only one book to a Robinson Crusoe-type stranded on a deserted island who wanted to write his personal story, I have no doubt it would be Paul Sochaczewski’s Share Your Journey: Mastering Personal Writing. The toolkit Paul offers allows the person with a story and some raw talent to build a word castle that rises to the heavens.”

—Christopher G. Moore, author of the Vincent Calvino novels and Heart Talk

“If you want … your writing to leap off the page and click its heels in mid-air, read this book and follow its good advice. This is a lifetime’s wisdom, offered by a pro.”

—Thomas Bass, author of The Spy Who Loved Us, Vietnamerica, and The Predictors; professor of English and journalism at State University of New York


And coming in May …

Revised third edition of Paul’s classic comic eco-thriller set in Borneo

In the middle of a Borneo rainforest, a band of near-naked Penan tribesmen, encouraged by an equally clothes-challenged renegade Swiss shepherd, hesitantly blockade a logging truck, testing their commitment to protect their forest home. Nearby, a researcher studying orangutans is threatened with being thrown out of her study site unless she can reach a delicate compromise with the powerful minister of the environment. Meanwhile, loggers are busy at work, devastating the rainforest. And rehabilitant orangutans are not playing nice.
Time is running out, for the people and the orangutans who share this threatened environment. Who has the answer to saving the world’s oldest forest—the marketing experts of an international nature conservation group or the earnest monkey-wrenchers?
At the heart of Redheads‘ black-humored fictional action lies the very real problem of rainforest destruction and the philosophical question of where the real boundaries lie between apes and humans. And just what is it about red silk underwear?
Critical Praise:
Redheads does for the struggle to save the rainforests of Borneo what Catch-22 did for the struggle to stay alive in World War II.”
            —Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael
“Free-thinking, intelligent, and irreverent—Redheads reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut thriller. It’s bold, pacey—even racy … a quirky and often laugh-out-loud funny Robin Hood parable about the willful destruction of Asia’s forests and the price we pay by turning a blind eye. I loved this visceral eco-thriller, a sort of jungle morality play in which there’s more than simply the trees to lose.”
—Benedict Allen, author of Into the Crocodile’s Nest: Journey Inside New GuineaHunting the Gugu: In Search of the Lost Ape-Men of Sumatra, and Through Jaguar Eyes: Crossing the Amazon Basin
 “Sochaczewski’s classic novel Redheads tells of the cultural genocide of Borneo’s Penan people (and the destruction of the rainforests on which they rely) with wit, elegance, and insight. If you care about our natural world and the indigenous people who are being denied a choice in how and where they live, then read this tale. It’s fiction, but the issues it exposes are, tragically, all too real.”
—Robin Hanbury-Tenison, explorer and author of Mulu: The Rainforest, The Oxford Book of Exploration, and The Great Explorers

Thank you,

Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

Amazon author page: Paul Sochaczewski