Bangkok Phuket Pattaya Pattaya Pattaya Pattaya Pattaya  (photo courtesy of tour operator) Bangkok Bangkok Pattaya Phuket Koh Chang Koh Chang (Sony A7R4) Bangkok
All photos taken with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, except where noted in the captions

Mattopia Jones and the Righteous Chi
12 December 2022 – 8 January 2023
Miles Walked: 107.86

Chapters:   Interview  •  Itinerary  •  Snorkeling  •  Parasailing  •  Koh Chang

Mattopia Jones: The Mattopia Times Interview

Mattopia Jones has been all over the world and he’s conquered so many personal fears and other challenges. But, as we sit in the cozy confines of Matt Manor to recap his most recent adventure, it’s clear one challenge remains elusive: dust.

It’s gotten pretty bad. Some spots, under the right light, make the infestation all the more pronounced. And that’s in the high-traffic areas. In fairness, though, dusting was on his to-do list before he embarked on the Righteous Chi adventure. But, the perpetually bumped task eventually became a Monday evening chore that didn’t happen because of an incoming blizzard.

So, we’ll cut him some slack. After all, if a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind, our dear Dr. Jones’ mind has the mental physique equivalent to a young Schwarzenegger pumping iron at Gold’s Gym.

His two Monos luggage bags are spread wide open, with clothes and other gear strewn about. Nearby is a laundry basket. It’s empty. At least this time he’s managed to shave before our interview.

Resplendent in a Mickey Mouse T-shirt from Uniqlo (size XXL, he’s oddly happy to point out) picked up during this latest trip to Bangkok, Ralph Lauren cargo shorts, Etnia Barcelona spectacles with a tortoise shell frame and OluKai slippers, Matty’s relatively relaxed and ready to talk, thanks in large part to the cup of java (the Big Bang blend from Peet’s Coffee) placed nearby.

How are you?


Okay. Um. Maybe you’re not ready to talk.

Oh, no. No. I’m ready. Let’s do this!

Great! Here’s an obvious, softball question for you. What is a “Righteous Chi”?

Way back in a previous career life, I worked with a woman who kept saying she needed to center her Righteous Chi (from the Chinese Zheng Qi). Think of it as something like the Force from Star Wars. It’s the positive energy that protects a person’s health and well-being. For me, personally, my Zheng Qi is constantly being bombarded and drained by the grind of the day job and grappling with the altered states of post-pandemic life — these pressures have been there all along, but they are now much more pronounced in today’s anxious society. The Mattopia Jones quests, when taken as a whole, are about this need to restore my positive outlook, my ambitions, my creativity, my sense of wonder and get back to a centered, balanced and holistically healthy state.

Wow. That certainly pushes the art of the vacation to a new level, which is the perfect lead-in to your most recent journey. Let’s talk about that and start on a positive note. What was the best thing about the trip?

Waking up every morning wondering what wonderful adventure the new day would bring to me.

Um. That sounds familiar. Where’s that from? Was it...

It’s from the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. It was released several days before the trip and I’ve watched it countless times. I love that line — spoken by Sallah. It’s so relatable, as I deeply missed the beach and the sea. And I know there’ll be a time when these trips won’t be possible. Still decades away — fingers crossed — but it’s fate. Destiny. And it’s so thrilling to see Harrison Ford back in the leather jacket and fedora.

So, that line became something of a theme for this trip.

Funny enough, that type of thing has a way of taking on a life of its own.

Koh Chang, the eve of New Year’s Eve. It was late at night, but I wasn’t ready to go back to my room. I was resting on a beach chair on White Sand Beach, enjoying the serenity of the scene: the night sky, the waves, the fresh air, the blissful calm of the solitude. That uniquely set the stage for an email from Wested, the fine folks who made the original Indy jacket worn by Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark. They now have the new jacket for Destiny. I ordered it without hesitation, right then and there on my phone while relaxing on the beach. Safe to say I already have a lot of fond memories of that jacket, even though it hasn’t even arrived yet. It’s being custom made, including a repair job on a bullet hole!

White Sand Beach at night
The serene setting for the Destiny jacket order. Photo, shot on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, courtesy of Mattopia Jones.

Editor’s Note: The Destiny jacket arrived on 13 February, perfectly timed to be opened on Valentine’s Day. Aww. It truly is a beautiful jacket and Matty’s thrilled. Mmmm... The rich fragrance of a brand-new leather jacket!

Okay. Cool stuff; sources of inspiration are important. It’s unfortunate more people don’t follow their bliss, so to speak, and see where their inspirations take them. Now, what was the worst thing about the trip?

Well, two things come to mind immediately.

One’s waking up at 3:45 on a Sunday morning to collect the gear and head out to Suvarnabhumi Airport to return home. It’s not just the waking up, it’s how even the idea of it has a way of spoiling the whole final evening of the trip. The itineraries never seem to work out with any degree of convenience, and for the second year in a row, the original itinerary changed dramatically — a couple times.

And that was before a blizzard forced a last-minute change, bumping up my departure time from Denver by 12 hours.

The other thing was hopping on ANA Dreamliners in which the passenger air vents were removed. That turned the flights between Tokyo and Bangkok into five-hour saunas. I wasn’t losing my mind; on the United Dreamliner from Tokyo to Los Angeles, the air vents were there. Much cooler flight, much more comfortable.

You mentioned Dreamliners. Let’s talk about dreams. You had some interesting dreams while traveling last year. What about this time?

Yeah. There were a couple.

One was right at the start of the trip, while at the Riva Arun. It happened during a couple nights, the same story. They were dreams about work, but not specific to my day job. Some of the voices were familiar, but the work was totally different. It involved visual effects and composite imagery and trying to get things perfect to achieve a specific theatrical result.

The other was later on, while I was in the thick of the snorkeling portion of the trip.

In that dream, James Cameron was begging me to attend a private screening — exclusively for me in IMAX 3D — of Avatar: The Way of Water. I was hemming and hawing. He was persistent. After a while, I ran out of excuses. Ultimately, I caved and watched the movie; just me and Cameron in a large IMAX theatre.

That’s a curious, entertaining dream for a few reasons.

For one, I am not a fan of Cameron. I think the guy’s an ass.

For another, the official press screening for Way of Water was the Monday night before my trip and I was reluctant to commit the time so close to departure. As it happens, I wound up leaving that Monday night anyway, to beat the blizzard, so it became an impossibility.

And, humorously, I was living my own “way of water” while snorkeling and got some fantastic underwater footage on my iPhone 14 Pro Max using the ProShot Dive case. That was a truly immersive experience!

Stay tuned, true believers. More to come...

Next Chapters Coming Soon

  • Bangkok
  • Phuket
  • Pattaya
  • The Hard Rock Spa

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Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

Surrender book cover

The Stories of Surrender one-man theatrical stage show was conceived as a promotional book tour for Bono’s phenomenal “MEmoir” and the tour expanded into an extended series of shows on Broadway.

Of course, the book is available in all the usual formats. But the audio book provides the best experience. Bono’s words told in Bono’s own singular voice — enhanced with musical performances that elevate this autobiography to uncommon heights — set the stage for the album Songs of Surrender, released 17 March U2023.

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