The Stickman site started as a small hobby website about my life in Thailand but would grow in to something much bigger. It site started as a small, personal homepage, long before the term blog had been coined, let alone social media. My small homepage was a way for me to keep friends back in my native New Zealand up to date with what I was up to.
I came to enjoy writing about life in Thailand and branched out in to commenting on the lifestyle of other expats and before long I was getting emails from all around the world. Amazing, people enjoyed the stuff I was writing about!
The site grew and I had to give it a name. “Stickman’s Guide to Bangkok” seemed fitting. My personal homepage had turned in to something rather larger!
I had only ever planned to stay in Thailand for a year or two. I had enjoyed visiting the country the previous year and after a busy period work-wise I thought it would be nice to take an extended break. I was looking for a change of scenery and the mix of warm weather, friendly people and low cost of living made Thailand the perfect choice.
The site developed beyond a mere homepage and had three distinct sections, “Living in Bangkok”, “Teaching English in Thailand” and one I cheekily called “Naughty Nightlife in Thailand”.
In the early days the naughty nightlife section was the most popular part of the site. I was fascinated not so much by the naughty nightlife industry itself, but the phenomenon of young, poor, modestly educated Thai women who older, educated, worldly Western men fell in love with….and the subsequent fall-out when things inevitably went bang!
In 2002 the “Naughty Nightlife” section was removed. I just didn’t feel right publishing a lengthy article on that subject and not infrequently would receive bizarre emails from readers who shared sordid tales with me, men who didn’t appear to respect women. I didn’t want to be involved with them in any way, so I removed that article.
The site developed and I guess one of the things Stickman is known for today is photography, particularly nightlife and low-light photography. But in the early days of the site it was all text and there weren’t any photos at all!
I’ve always enjoyed looking at the world through a lens and in late 1999 I picked up my first digital camera, a very basic Kodak DC240 with all of 2 megapixels and almost zero custom settings or features.
The first photo gallery was added in 2000 and many would follow. Web hosting was a nightmare back then – expensive and cumbersome – and there were bandwidth constraints which forced me to take most of the photo galleries offline. I really should get around to putting them back up one day as there’s much history in those shots.
Over the years, the site has changed as new parts have gone up, and others taken down. In the old days there were bandwidth issues; other times it was about how I had changed and what I was comfortable with. In 2006 I started a page listing all of the free wi-fi Internet connections in Bangkok but with the advent of smartphones it became redundant and was removed.
The Stickman Weekly column was launched in April of 2001 so I had a place on the site I could include news and views that were time-sensitive, stuff that was perhaps only really relevant for a short period. I dated the columns so that if it was read at a later date it would be clear that the news and views expressed were not necessarily current. There was so much happening that I wanted to write about, but which just didn’t fit in to the larger sections of the site that I had to create a new section.
By the time I published the third Stickman weekly column on April 22, 2001, it had become the most popular part of the site.
Not long after launching the weekly column, the readers’ submissions section was born. In 2001 I was averaging around 50 emails a day as many people shared their adventures in Thailand with me. When I received a lengthy and powerful email about how the Stickman site had helped save a reader’s marriage, I just had to include it in the site. I asked the fellow’s permission to run it and he said go ahead. There was nowhere on the site where it quite fit in so I started the readers’ submissions section.
My life has changed a lot over the years and this has been reflected in the site. In the early days the site read like a Cheap Charlie’s guide to Bangkok. When I first came here I was on a limited budget, didn’t know many people and was earning a typical teacher’s salary of around 30,000 baht per month. As the site became more popular people, expressed an interest in advertising on it and the site supplemented my day job. In time the income from the site would exceed what I made from my day job and I quit it to concentrate on the site.
This site has been both enjoyable to operate and at times, quite stressful.
I did not always dot my i’s and cross my t’s and had issues with the authorities which were stressful and expensive.
I’ve not been shy to shine a light on some questionable practices and have had to walk a tightrope with some of the characters who operate businesses in Bangkok.
In early 2014 I gave a year’s notice to readers, announcing that the site would end in 2015. I had enjoyed my time in Thailand but I missed home, missed family and didn’t see Thailand as a place I wanted to stay forever. As a place to visit Thailand is great – it’s hard to think of anywhere better for a holiday – but in terms of place to live, I found that changes in attitudes and in some laws were not always positive for expats. I needed a new challenge and I wanted to escape being known as a guy who chronicled the comings and goings of Bangkok’s expat belly. I had long grown out of it.
I left Thailand in early 2015. A few days before I left, a Thai expressed an interest in buying the Stickman domain name. It took months to thrash out the deal but in late 2015 I sold a majority share of the Stickman domain name. Part of the deal was that I would stay on and write the column, and to this day I continue to update the site and produce weekly column, albeit from lands afar. It shouldn’t work but amazingly, it seems to.
I hope that you enjoy exploring this site and enjoy the 10,000 odd articles, columns, photo galleries and stories that make up the extensive content of this site.
If you have any questions at all about this site, about any of the articles or stories or simply wish to share your thoughts on or experiences in Thailand, please do feel free to drop me an email. I always enjoy hearing from readers : [email protected]