April 2015. Virtually every traveller I met on my wanderings around Thailand hated Bangkok. “It’s not REAL Thailand!” they’d repeat, again and again. I was told to use the capital merely as a transport hub, that I should get out at the earliest opportunity. Unless of course I was a total scumbag visiting specifically as a sex tourist! When quizzed, most of these experts had never even heard of the city’s most fascinating attractions. Take the Jim Thompson house for example, the former home of James H.W. Thompson, an American businessman who became known as The Silk King of Thailand.
April 2015. A graduate of Princeton, Jim Thompson had worked as an architect and served in the U.S. army before he ended up in Thailand with a fascination for silk weaving. Having co-founded The Thai Silk Company in 1948, his business quickly prospered and in 1951 his fabrics were used for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I. His old Bangkok home, built in 1959, is a beautiful compound comprised of six traditional Thai structures made from teak wood. Touring the complex can only be done with a guide and takes about forty minutes.
April 2015. You can still observe the traditional silk spinning process around the main courtyard. The compound also features an art centre, with galleries and video installations of major works never before shown in Thailand.
April 2015. Thompson’s old living quarters are gorgeous, especially the tree house section which includes the master bedroom and study. What makes his story particularly fascinating is that the old dog just disappeared in 1967 while on holiday in Malaysia. He was sixty-one years old and his body was never found, despite an intense eleven-day search conducted by the Malaysian Army and police. Even locals joined the hunt, not to mention a committed team of reward hunters! Have a dig around online and you’ll come across some pretty colorful conspiracy theories about what may have happened to him.
April 2015. The compound has a beautiful garden area and pond, while an open stone terrace and Buddhist shrine serves as a grand entrance to the magnificent drawing room. Tours of The Jim Thompson house go for 150 Baht per person (£3.50/€4/$4.60) between 09:00-18:00 daily.
For more on my time in this fantastic city check out my articles from around Bangkok.
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