Today was another exciting day in Bangkok, and another exciting new aspect of this fascinating city I had never heard of. Susie and I took a tuk tuk ride to the train station and we made our way on Bangkok’s elevated inner city railway system to our destination du jour: The Jim Thompson House and Museum located squarely inside the city along a remote canal. Tucked away, you might say. And that’s entirely appropriate. Read on and you’ll understand why.
Okay, here goes, and when I’m done giving you the Reader’s Digest version of this amazing tale, you tell me if isn’t something that might be the story line of the next Indiana Jones or James Bond adventure.
Jim Thompson was a young east coast guy born into wealth who went to Princeton University and became an architect. He joined the Army just prior to World War II, he jumped out of airplanes while he was in the Army (hey, I like this guy already), and he ended up in the Office of Strategic Services during the war (the OSS was the forerunner of the CIA). Toward the end of the war, Thompson ended up in Thailand where he found interesting and previously unknown artisans doing amazing things with silk. To make a long story short, Thompson is the man who made Thai silk famous. Seriously. He designed silk clothing for royalty, elites all over the world, and folks in Hollywood (including costumes used in the The King and I).
Along the way and with his background as an architect, Mr. Thompson starting collecting classic Thai teak homes and Asian artifacts (like I said above, the guy had money). He built a compound comprised of six teak homes he moved from ancient Thai cities to Bangkok, and there he made the complex his home.
Then, to make this story even more interesting, in 1967 Jim Thompson disappeared in the Malaysian jungle without a trace. I know, it sounds like a story line from a movie or one of those adventure novels you buy in an airport bookstore, but folks, no one can make up stuff this good. A former US Army paratrooper/OSS officer/CIA agent turned wealthy silk magnate, complete with an ancient Thai compound on a canal in Bangkok who goes missing deep in the jungles of Malaysia. What was it? A tiger attack? An assassination when the bad guys finally caught up with him? Or something else?
So, with that as the backdrop, here are a few of our photos of the Jim Thompson House from earlier today. It was truly an amazing visit…
I would have liked to have taken more photos of the inside of the home and the amazing ancient Thai artifacts it held, but no photography was allowed. You’ll just have to take my word for it. This is one amazing place and one amazing story.
I did grab one more photo as Susie and I were walking back to the train station…
So, trust me on this: If you ever find yourself in Bangkok, the Jim Thompson House is a place that has to be on your “must see” list.