The Jim Thompson House: An Interesting Slice of Thai/Foreign History
Those heading for Bangkok from Pattaya for a quick business trip or just for a change of scene are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining, entertainment and sightseeing. Apart from the obvious, world famous tourist attractions there are plenty of interesting places to visit. One of these is the Jim Thompson house in a narrow soi opposite the National Stadium.
For those of you who are not familiar with the name, Jim Thompson was an enigmatic American who is credited with revitalizing and internationalizing the Thai silk industry. He disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 1967 in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia. He went out for a walk in the afternoon, never to return. No trace of him was ever found. Conspiracy theories abound about the disappearance, mainly due to his ‘intelligence’ connections. Thompson was in the O.S.S. in wartime, which was the forerunner of the C.I.A. After the war, Thompson decided (or perhaps it was decided for him) that he wanted to make the Far East and in particular Bangkok, his home. His house is a fascinating and perfectly blended mixture (using his architectural background) of 6 old Thai wooden dwellings which he had moved mostly from the ancient capital of Ayutthaya with the largest, which became the Living Room from Bangkrua. Once this was complete, he fi lled the house with his fabulous collection of antiques from Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and China, many of which can be seen on the tour. There are many fascinating pieces and the guides do an admirable job of fi lling in the background details. Photographs are not permitted inside the house but outside, there is no problem.
Jim Thompson took enormous pleasure in the beauty of his garden, which resembles a mini jungle and is quite gorgeous. Taking in the place as a whole, it is very interesting to see how a foreigner so totally and successfully integrated into Thai culture. Not only that, but he was instrumental in helping the country in an invaluable way. Thai silk has a unique texture and appearance and is instantly distinguishable from Chinese, Japanese, Indian and other silks. The Jim Thompson company produces many exquisite items from Thai silk, some of which you can purchase from the shop on the premises.
The tour was very reasonably priced at 100 baht. Our English speaking guide was a charming girl, nicknamed Ben and her descriptions greatly added to the enjoyment of the tour.
Open Daily from 09.00 – 17.00
6/1, 6/2 Soi Kasemsan 2, Opposite
National Stadium, Rama 1 Rd.
Patumwan, Bangkok 10330