Mattopia Jones and the Flames of the Fates. It's a working title. Not sure if it'll stick. I really wanted to call this trip Mattopia Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars, but it simply didn't fit. I liked Mattopia Jones and the Exorcism of the Whills; the Star Wars reference is slick, but... maybe next trip. I also considered something simple, like Vacation, but that one's already taken.
Logline: Boats, planes, hot air balloons... anything to get the job done.
I'm big in Asia.
I mean that literally and figuratively.
I got stuck in the tunnels of Cu Chi in Vietnam. (These things happen, I tell myself.)
But I also had monks waving at me with approval as I sported a longyi in the pagodas and temples of Myanmar. Plus there were those kids who were excited to have their photo taken with a curiosity piece like me.
The trip turned into a font of photos, videos and stories. There's much more to come, true believers.
It's time for what's become an annual pilgrimage to far away places, diving back into my element — being a fish out of water and having no idea what's going on or what people are saying. Yes! Another peace-brokering trip on behalf of the People's Republic of Mattopia.
So, I'll have my hands full 25 November - 18 December and I will not be checking emails or voicemails during this time. Diplomacy, cultural reverance, antiquities, exploration, elevation and (probably) a couple pints take precedence.
In the event of an emergency, please contact [redacted] for assistance.
"Dream out loud, in high volume,"
Matt (quoting Bono)
"Car alarm won't let you back to sleep.
You're kept awake dreaming someone else's dream.
Coffee is cold, but it'll get you through.
Compromise — that's nothing new to you.
Let's see colors that have never been seen.
Let's go to places no one else has been."
— Electrical Storm (from The Best of 1990-2000, U2002; lyrics by Bono and The Edge, music by Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr. and Adam Clayton. By the way, the video for this song features a mermaid out of her element — and Bono & Co. taking my favorite train ride along the Riviera.)
As I packed up and headed out on this trip, it seemed like the perfectly wrong time to travel to the other side of the planet for a three-week adventure. All I had done to prepare, basically, was to book roundtrip airfare to Bangkok (thanks, United Mileage Plus), reserve a couple nights in Bangkok (in the hotel where parts of The Hangover Part II were filmed), and secure visas to Vietnam and Myanmar.
The end result wasn't necessarily the trip I wanted when I first booked that airfare back in August, but it was most definitely the adventure I needed. In fact, this particular trip makes me think of the great quote from Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.: "I like the way I do things and I will continue to do things the way I think they should be done."
In the past two years I've spent six weeks traveling around southeast Asia and they've been trips of grand adventure, much different from all those European vacations. The Asian trips have been far and away the most physically demanding — and, in many respects, the most rewarding.
Throw in the 2013 trip to Russia and the past few years have been about challenging so many preconceived and outdated notions, many dating back to grade school social studies and many more colored by the news media and movies (uh, “thanks,” Rambo).
The biggest surprise? How far Myanmar has come in the few years since its borders opened. Spectacular scenery and equally spectacular people. And a SIM card that kept me connected — and kept the trip moving — even in the remote areas of Bagan. That SIM card is a story in itself.
The words, photos and video here are just a tease of much more to come.
Mattopia Jones visits the romanticized and controversial world of Ernest Hemingway, cigars and mojitos.
Miami • Tampa • Havana
San Francisco de Paula • Cojimar
Walt Disney World
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