A former American spy in World War Two turned Thai silk magnate. After reviving the Thai silk trade and becoming one of the most famous business men in Asia, Jim Thompson mysteriously disappears in Malaysia. It is the type of tail of success and intrigue that makes for a good mystery novel and a story I’m attracted to. It is only fitting that I would pay a visit to the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok while in Thailand.
I hopped on the Skytrain near my hotel and headed down to the National Stadium stop in downtown Bangkok. I followed my guide books instructions and began hunting for the road that led to famous landmark. It was hard to believe that a traditional Thai house could be located anywhere in this part of a bustling metropolitan era.
After walking around for the better part of half an hour, I had not been able to find the road I was looking for, even though it was supposed to only be a short distance from the Skytrain station. I once again reluctantly consulted my guidebook before retracing my steps and eventually finding the street I had been looking for.
After a long walk past store fronts and shop houses, the road ends at the khlong (canal). To the left is a non-descript entrance to the Jim Thompson house, short of a few placards on the wall I would have passed it by.
I only had to wait a short time for the next tour to begin but had to lock up my backpack in a locker as they were not allowed on the tour. Pictures were limited to certain areas on the tour and could not be taken inside the main house which was a bit disappointing.
Our tour group was about eight people, led by an English speaking Thai guide. She educated us on both the house and the life of the man. The house seemed out of place in the center of the city, but gave an insight into the not too distant past as to what Bangkok must have looked like before the western influence and big city construction took over.
We were guided around the main house.
The rice house or storage house.
The lush tropical garden with pond, complete with turtles.
They had a few silk patterns on display. If I didn’t know how silk garments were made before, after seeing the patterns I now have less of a clue.
The Jim Thompson house also has many pieces of art and artifacts on display.
An ancient Buddha statue that is supposedly highly valued…even without head and hands.
All in all it was a very interesting visit to the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok. It was fascinating to learn and understand the history of the house and the man while getting a glimpse into the city of Bangkok must have looked like in the 1950’s and 1960’s. If you want to learn more you can visit the website.