On my last full day in Bangkok the temperature was still surprisingly cool. Almost cold. I’m not sure if it was the cool refreshing weather or that it was my last day but I ended up having a lot more energy than I had the rest of the week. So on my way back from my cooking class I realized the best way home included taking the canal boats so I stopped by the Jim Thompson House. The walk from the canal pier is nice, it goes along the river and there’s graffiti art all along the wall. The Jim Thompson House is down first alley that opens up.
The Jim Thompson House is open every day between the hours of 9-6 and requires a tour that’s about 150 baht. They ask you how many people and what language since they have many tour guides who speak many different languages. I had to wait a little bit but it was so cool that I didn’t mind.
The Jim Thompson House pops up in a lot of guides of things to do in Thailand. The little tidbit everything suggests is “It’s a museum of an expat who helped out with the textile industry” and honestly I wasn’t too interested in going. Except that it was everywhere and on the way back to my hostel. I was expecting a tiny house that smelled old and was filled with moth eaten cloth and that isn’t what I got at all, instead I got a mystery.
Jim Thompson was an architect from the USA, during the war (World War II) he joined the army and ended up in Thailand (after visiting a couple other countries). He fell in love with Thailand and decided that’s where he would live. He built a house, but a traditional house and followed the local customs. It’s a beautiful teak house with a bit of his own tweaks like indoor stairwells and bathrooms. He had a spirit house made and waited until the time he was told would be okay for him to move in and had been told to be careful in his 60’s. He gathered art from all over Southeast Asia and poured a lot work into his garden. Which is lovely.
Now as for the textile part of his life. Silk wasn’t doing so well at the time, a small industry mostly for ceremonies and special occasions, but he took it with him on a trip to New York and got it noticed by a world market. There’s tons of information about the grounds about silk and you can even watch the process. (It was weird to see the silk worms because in Korea they are eaten sometimes as a snack and a coworker of mine brought them to work. I still haven’t had a chance to try them yet. They were a bit spicy so I decided against trying it.) The Jim Thompson House sells silk garments and products in the gift shop too. The silks from the company he ran were used in the musical “The King and I”.
When Jim Thompson was in his 60’s he went off to Malaysia and went for a walk and disappeared.
The Jim Thompson house is really interesting to walk around. At first I was a bit surprised about the mandatory guided tour but I’m really glad I went on it, I wouldn’t have learned so much and probably would have left with only a bit of information on the process of making silk from the cute silkworm character infographics they have set up. Photo’s aren’t allowed inside the house, but outside in the garden they are more than welcome. I enjoyed learning about Jim Thompson and his home and checking out the visiting art exhibit. I’ve always been fascinated by disappearance stories whether it’s Roanoke, Amelia Earhart, Jean Spangler, or Louis Le Prince, which is mostly because I’ve always enjoyed mysteries.