I have a friend coming to visit! As I attempt to build an itinerary, I’ve been thinking back on all of the wonderful places I’ve visited and the Jim Thompson House came to mind.
It is a little garden oasis, in the middle of the Bangkok. Entering the gates, you can almost forget the city, as the views of skyscrapers are obscured by the tall trees and beautiful traditional Thai homes. The structures on premise were original homes dismantled and reconstructed here.
But who is Jim Thompson? As the name might suggest, he is not Thai but an American with a very interesting history. He is given the credit of revitalizing the beautiful hand-woven silk industry here. But, even more interesting, was said to be a spy that one day, disappeared (and was never seen again). I was originally told (by a friend) that he disappeared from his backyard, tea still warm when discovered missing. This version turns out to be far less dramatic. He actually disappeared in Malaysia. He left for a walk and was never seen again, so theories I’ve heard are he may have been eaten by a tiger or was kidnapped. To this day, his disappearance is still an unsolved mystery.
His previous home is now a museum that gives tours throughout the day, with a gift shop, restaurant and art gallery, that has changing exhibits. The grounds are also filled with art, displaying his collections from his travels through Asia. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in the main structures (noo!!!!) but I filled my eyes will so many beautiful things. Walking upstairs, ancient wall hangings stood, telling tales of the Buddha, their paint beginning to fade and chip. I worried that the hangings wouldn’t survive in the hot temperature here but my friend reminded they’d already lasted hundreds of years. Ancient statues were also on display, their faces no longer as distinct as the day they were carved, centuries ago. Some of Mr. Thompson’s more personal affects were also on display, like his fortune which warned him against traveling during the year he disappeared. (Fortune tellers are quite popular here.)
The gift shop showcases his beautiful silk line. The items are luxurious and expensive. I temporarily feel in love with a scarf until I realized it was the same price as my monthly rent here. His brand is also sold in malls and well known here.
The restaurant sits under one of the Thai homes, offering a full menu and refreshing drinks. After our tour, I sat relaxing with my friend, discussing art and enjoying the beautiful gardens.
I look forward to returning there and enjoying all the green again.
If you are curious to learn more about Jim Thompson (previously in the OSS), Wiki provides additional details about his background. Sadly, I could find a good link showcasing the beautiful silk designs. Come visit and I’ll take you to a store!