I guess you could say that this site was born way back in November, 1998. I had originally planned to stay a year or two in Thailand, but after 8 months I guess I saw that I was going to be here for a while and bought a computer. Within days this site was born in what was nothing more than a small hobby website, very much a personal homepage for friends back home to keep up to date with what I was up to in exotic Thailand.
The site soon had some structure with three distinct sections, "Living in Bangkok", "Teaching English in Thailand" and a page about what I cheekily referred to as the "Naughty Nightlife in Thailand". Each page was an essay on each of these topics, and nothing like the full-length articles you find here today. There were no photos. They did not come until late 1999 when I pocked up my first digital camera, a basic Kodak DC240, a 2 megapixel camera with very few features, which cost me a cool 32,000 Thai baht at the time! Nowadays I use much better camera gear.
The naughty nightlife section was the most popular part of the site in the early days and it grew the fastest. I was fascinated by the naughty nightlife from an anthropological point of view (nudge, nudge, wink, wink!) and remain intrigued by the way poor, modestly educated Thai women from rural Thailand can make well-educated, worldly Western men fall in love with them and go on to do some really crazy things.
In 2000 the "Travel In Thailand" section was added. Back then it was pretty basic and to be honest, it is one section of the site that I have not put a huge amount of time into.
In 2002 the "Naughty Nightlife" section was removed. I felt awkward with a lengthy article on that subject and would often receive some really bizarre emails from readers who were obviously visiting Thailand for the nightlife and I didn't want to be involved with them in any way, so I removed it. The removal of that section upset, even angered many readers and I received a huge number of complaints - and many requests to put it back online. At almost 100,000 words it was one of the most comprehensive single articles on the subject of prostitution in Thailand for Western men. I didn't relent and the article is history.
The first photo gallery was added in 2000 and many more followed. Due to bandwidth constraints - remember, server space and bandwidth used to cost much more than it does today - I took most offline. That has been an unfortunate hallmark of the site over the years, parts go up, and then later get taken down as I reflect on what is there and decide I don't like it!
The turning point in the site's development was the introduction of the Stickman Weekly column, which began in April of 2001. It was created so I could include news and views that were time sensitive and perhaps only really relevant for a short period of time. Each column was dated so it was obvious the news and views expressed were not necessarily current. There was so much happening that I wanted to write about, but which wouldn't really fit in to the larger sections of the site that I had to create a new section of the site for that material.
The weekly column became very popular, very quickly. Much effort goes into putting it together every week and each column averages well over 5,000 words. Today, the latest weekly column is always the most accessed part of the site.
Not long after the weekly column was born, the readers' submissions section began. It is the part of the site were readers can contribute their own stories, anecdotes and thoughts on life in Thailand.
I have always received a lot of email but I got one particular email that was so powerful, that I just had to include it in the site. Again, there was nowhere on the site where it quite fit in so I started the readers' submissions section. This is now a very popular part of the site and two or three new readers' stories are posted every day apart from Sunday, the day the weekly column is published. This means that there is something new and fresh to read every day. This readers' submissions section of the site is also very popular and there are some real gems amongst them. The quality of the stories sent in has got better and better over time and there are a number of regular writers including Dana, who has written in excess of 200 stories! As at March 2011, there are in excess of 6,600 reader-contributed full-length articles and stories. It is the second most popular part of the site.
Other sections of the site have been added over time, including a section with interviews of Bangkok personalities which was later incorporated into the Stickman Weekly column. In 2006 I started what has now become the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing of free wi-fi internet connections in Thailand.
My life has changed a lot over the years and this has been reflected in the site. I think it's fair to say that in the early days I used to be rather cheap, and the site really did read like a Cheap Charlie's guide to Bangkok! That's very much because when I first came here I was on a limited budget, didn't know many people and earned around 30,000 baht per month. That said, things were much cheaper back then! I had to learn everything myself. Internet resources were scarce back then and rather than get online and research stuff, you simply went out and talked to the Thais yourself. It was a great way to learn and the early years in Thailand make up the most enjoyable period of my life.
Without a great deal of money, I was forced to learn Thai and managed to reach a high level which I feel has made life more enjoyable and given me a real advantage over those who don't. That said, I very much wanted to learn the language and learning it to a very high level is, for me, an achievement of some pride.
Over time, my financial situation improved and as such I started to experience different parts of the city and started to move in different levels of society. Where once I ate almost exclusively at street vendors, today I eat at a variety of places to include some of the best restaurants in the city.
It was probably around 2006 when the Stickman brand, so to speak, really started to take off. Before I knew it I was being invited on to interview panels on TV, quoted in the press and approached by respected media such as the BBC for for various interviews and to give an opinion about life in Bangkok. My social circles changed and where once I felt like I was swimming in the toilet - spending way too much time in the red light areas - now I found myself amongst, while perhaps not the true high society, certainly a more successful bunch. With these changes in my personal life, so did the feel of the site change.
If there is one area where I think this site differs to others, I think it is because I am one of few people writing about Thailand who started back when there were zero online resources. I knew nobody here and I was completely unknown. Over time I improved my lot, developed my skills, particularly my language skills and got to know more people and more places.
I do hope you enjoy the site as I continue to enjoy managing it and producing a weekly column. Thanks for your support!