My Story

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Photo by my guide, Thorp, right after shooting a herd of pygmy elephants in Borneo.

My name is Matt Gibson and I’m an adventure travel writer and photographer. Welcome to my blog and online portfolio.

About This Website

I originally built this website to promote my writing and photography to magazine and website editors. I still use it for that purpose (if you are an editor or art director you would probably like to see my portfolio), but over the years it has grown into much more.

My goal now is to make into an inspiring and useful resource for lovers of travel and outdoors adventures. To that end, I publish stories meant to express they joy I get from doing the ridiculous things that I do, photoessays meant to express the beauty that I have found in our world — both contrived and natural — and tutorials meant to help people safely learn how to expand their own abilities and explore our world through adventure sports.

About My Philosophy

I grew up at the edge of a small mountain town and spent most of my youth outdoors. My parents encouraged me to go outside where I could walk in creeks, climb trees, fall off cliffs, and crash my bicycle, all of which I learned to do very well. Now I spend a large portion of my time exploring new cultures and the outdoors. Mostly, I like to hike, run, bike, surf, and snowboard. But I’ve also made a hobby of learning and trying new sports. So, I have also done some rock climbing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, skateboarding, paragliding, and  have run a couple of triathlons.

As much as I love outdoors sports, I don’t agree with the idea that adventure travel only consists of climbing mountains and crossing deserts. I think that adventure is found any time that you throw yourself into an unpredictable situation where you are forced to navigate by instinct. Experience has shown me that, although two-week guided trek through the Himalayas is adventurous, it’s not nearly as frightening as driving a motorcycle up the side of the tallest mountain in southeast Asia alone, at night, with no headlights. Surfing in Bali may be exciting, but so is refereeing a midget boxing match in Manila.

Adventure is not an activity, it’s a state of being that occurs when control is uncertain. Adventure cannot be planned. It can only be achieved by putting yourself into situations where you must solve problems that are beyond your experience. Adventure is high-stakes improvisation.  I believe that engaging in these sorts of activities is healthy because it helps us to become more self-reliant, understand our potential, and sharpen our abilities.

As Kurt Vonnegut said, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

About Me: A Timeline of My Life as a Writer

1988 | Age 9: Completed my first research essay, which was based on the theory that toucans and puffins are related because they both have colorful beaks. Learned, to my dismay, that they are not.

1990 | Age 11: Completed my first book: Harry Cat in the Big City, a story about a country cat who visits the big city. Humorous misadventures ensue. Accompanying pencil crayon illustrations also done by myself. Only one copy in A4 staple-bound format was made. The book has yet to be published. Inquiries are welcome.

1996 | Age 17: Received an “A+” in grade 12 Creative Writing and “A” in Honors English Literature. Convinced that I was brilliant, wrote a short story on my final English exam (instead of the required essay) for the prompt “junk”. The story went like this: A man becomes addicted to heroin (junk). Because of junk he meets his wife who is also a junkie. He later gets off of the drug when his wife throws his stash into a pile of junk and he can’t find it. He goes on to open a junkyard and is  killed by a piece of falling junk.

1998 | Age 19: Accepted to the University of Victoria’s Creative Writing Department on the condition that I attend a class on how to write a proper essay.

1998 | Age 20: Purposefully lit a poem on fire while reading it in front of the class.

1998 | Age 20: Quit the Creative Writing Department because my teachers didn’t understand art.

1998 | Age 20: Enrolled in the Sociology and Professional Writing departments planning to earn money as a journalist until I won my first Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

2002 | Age 23: Received an “A” for my 88-page honors thesis: Media Representations of the War on Terrorism (a Chomskian analysis of the Globe and Mail’s coverage of the war in Afghanistan) and graduated with an honors degree in Sociology and a minor in Professional Writing.

2002 | Age 23: Initiated my plan to win Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This included writing between 6 and 7 am every morning before going to my job as a professional lawn mower.

2002 | Age 24: Realized that I would be more popular if people read my writing. Began publishing anything I could, such as online book reviews and feature  articles for a local youth magazine.

2004 | Age 25: Moved to Southern Taiwan, started contributing regularly to the Compass Magazine Group.

2005 | Age 26: Seeking more creative freedom and editorial experience, founded Xpat Magazine, an all-English arts and culture quarterly.

2005-2008 | Age 26-29: Working only with volunteer staff, and making just enough money to cover print costs, I wrote articles for, edited, and contributed photography to every issue of Xpat. I also designed a large portion of each issue and sold all advertising for the magazine.

Xpat became one of the most respected and widely distributed expatriate publications in Taiwan.

2008 | Age 26-29: Sold Xpat Magazine. It went under of a year later.

Traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

Started as an online writing archive.

2009 | Age 30: Moved to a village on the side of a volcano in Guatemala to volunteer, study Spanish, and write a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

2009 | Age 30: Wrote 100 pages of my novel. Realized that being brilliant was more difficult than I had anticipated. Ran out of money. Moved back to Taiwan. Began writing a travel column for Transitions Abroad.

Made Bunk Magazine for the 12th anniversary of a friend’s business.

2010 | Age 31: Learned that popular blogs make money. Decided to focus on adventure travel writing and make into a popular blog.

Began writing a travel blog for the Huffington Post.

2011 | Age 32: Began writing feature articles for Baraaza Guides.

Travelled to Hawaii and Borneo, and then returned to Canada to make up for the time I had been away from my family.

Renewed my effort to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Wrote this timeline in my mother’s sewing room.