Monday, 21 May 2012

Jim Thompson House

It's always such a pleasure to catch up with my old friends in Bangkok, especially Khun Kai and Tan-Tan who spent the weekend was us. Tan-Tan is so cool now!  When I last saw Tan-Tan, he was probably 7 or 8 years old – then a naughty boy with too much energy to spare. Now a teenager, he has transformed from a prancing monkey into a young gentleman.  After Tammy and I shopped out of control in the weekend market, it was Tan-Tan who lended his muscles.

I've always wanted to visit Jim Thompson House. If you've never heard of Jim Thompson (只能用“一生传奇”来形容他吧) he was an American who arrived in Bangkok after WWII, fell in love with Thailand, and made it his permanent home. The hand-woven silk industry captured Jim Thompson’s attention and he decided to devote himself to reviving the long-neglected craft. Jim Thompson and the Thai silk industry attained worldwide recognition after his silk found its way into the 1956 musical film “The King and I”.

The Jim Thompson House combines of six teak buildings, which represents the best in traditional Thai architecture. Even though the House was built in 1959, most of the houses were at least two centuries old. Jim Thompson had purchased them from different parts of the country - some from as far away as the old capital of Ayudya – dismantled and brought to the present site.

You can tell that Jim Thompson was a quirky designer and decorator. For instance, in his dining table was formed by joining two intricately crafted mahjong tables.  Burmese drums were inverted to function as table lamp stands.  He reversed all the walls in his drawing room to bring the beautifully carved panels to the interior.

If you’re ever in Bangkok, it would be worthwhile to take the 40-minute guided tour of the Jim Thompson House. For only THB100, you’ll learn how the house adhered to the customs of early builders, why the house is above ground level, why the doors inside the house is slanted, the fascinating stories behind his vast collection of art pieces and antiques. You’ll also come face to face with a 17th century Buddha from the Ayudya period, as well as a 19th century Mouse House.

This photo is from

On March 26, 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared while on a holiday to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Not a single valid clue turned up as to what might have happened to him. He was 61 years of age.

Jim Thompson House
Soi Kasemsan 2, opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road,
6/1 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road
+66 2 216 7368
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (last guided tour at 5pm)
How to get there: Take exit 1 from the BTS National Stadium Station, turn right into Soi Kasemsan 2 and continue walking all the way to the very end. The museum will be on your left-hand side.

1 comment:

emy said...

Thanks for your recommendation. I will have to go visit the Jim Thompson house on my next trip!