So the Jim Thompson House is an institution. It’s a must-see if you come to Bangkok, so we finally dragged our butts out to see it, and it was so worth it.
The history of Jim Thompson is a pretty interesting one. He was an American, born in my home state of Delaware, who served in the military for several years. After WWII ended, his service sent him to Thailand, and he ended up loving it so much that he returned and “retired” there. In actuality, he ended up starting a Thai silk business that turned out to be incredibly successful, and helped build up the Thai silk industry. One thing you notice immediately here is the amount of Jim Thompson stores throughout the city that carry his (expensive) Thai silk products. Basically, he’s popular. Just a little.
His house though, is the main attraction. He built a traditional Thai home in central Bangkok and amassed a pretty amazing collection of art and furniture along the way, so it’s since become a museum. The house was actually made out of six different centuries old teak houses, which were combined and connected to make one massive, beautiful Thai home. It’s full of teak floors and walls, tiny doorways, and old-style accommodations. It was gorgeous, but we couldn’t take pictures inside the actual house, so just a pair of outside photos will have to do. We were too hot to manage much more than that I guess.
The grounds, as you can see, are also beautiful. The house is surrounded by trees and flowers of all types, as well as a canal on one side, so it all combines to make you feel as though you are far far away from the noisy, chaotic city that is Bangkok. Until you smell the canal. Then you remember where you are.
Anyway, Mr. Thompson unfortunately disappeared in 1967 after he took a trip to Malaysia to visit friends. The veracity of the purpose of that trip is debatable – I mean, he was OSS for a time – but in any event, no one really knows what happened to him. His body was never found.
So, if you find yourself in Bangkok, take a quick trip out to the house. The only way to see the interior is through a guided tour. I assume that’s in an attempt to ensure that tourists don’t break anything priceless or stomp all over the floors in dirty shoes, but it’s a well-run operation, and they of course have tours in English. The price is a little less than $4 for an adult ticket. There’s also a really good restaurant and a small gift shop on the grounds if your shopping addiction has you jonesing to spend more than just 4 bucks that day. Enjoy!