In 1995 Paul Strachan invited an unlikely assortment of eccentrics and adventurers to join him in an untried new boat that would venture up the Irrawaddy River, the first time foreign tourists had ventured up the mighty Burmese thoroughfare since the Second World War.
Against all odds, the trip was a huge success, word quickly spread and before Strachan knew it he was running a business in one of the world’s least business-friendly environments. He named it the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in honour of the Glasgow-based company that ran Burma’s river transport when the country was an outpost of the British Raj. The company now trades under the name Pandaw, after the Clyde-built paddle steamer it restored in Burma.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the revival of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company and the 150th anniversary of the founding of the original Irrawaddy Flotilla Paul Strachan has written ‘The Pandaw Story’. A book that is in turns hilarious, shocking, moving and often highly provocative.
The book also looks beyond Burma, at projects in Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Malaysia, where the company met with many adventures and mixed fortunes and recounts the many challenges the company has overcome to become the largest river cruise fleet in South-East Asia (it currently has 14 ships in four countries).
Commenting on the launch of the book Paul Strachan said ‘I would like to thank all our customers, our fantastic crews, colleagues, agents and suppliers for making Pandaw the success it is today and look forward to creating many exciting new river adventures in the future’.
This lively, humorous and anecdotal account gives some insights into the trials and tribulations of doing business in Burma and in South-East Asia more generally, introducing many outrageous and some sinister characters from East and West.
Mixing autobiography, colourful travelogue and company history, it is a unique account of one of the most unlikely but extraordinary successes in today’s travel industry.
Published by Kiscadale Publications, copies are now available to buy from Amazon.com and the digital ebook is available for Amazon Kindle.
All proceeds from the book will be given to the Pandaw charity that supports eight clinics and a school in Burma and last year treated over 40,000 patients.