Sunday 2 December 2018

Jim Thompson House Museum: much more than silk

Words: Michelle White

It’s amazing what you can discover when tagging along with fellow explorers. For a seasoned traveller, the thought of visiting another museum can bring on the odd yawn or two. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised by my recent visit to Jim Thompson’s House.

Jim Thompson was a US military intelligence officer who fell in love with Thailand during a posting and upon leaving the service returned to live there permanently. Highly gifted as a designer and textile colourist, he devoted himself to reviving the long-neglected hand-weaving silk industry which substantially contributed to the worldwide recognition afforded Thai silk today. He gained further renown through his well-known love and collection of local antiquities. In 1967 he mysteriously disappeared during a visit to Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.

Today The Jim Thompson House Museum is an interesting and relaxing journey through six traditional Thai teak buildings, housing an impressive collection of antique Asian sculptures, textiles, paintings, carvings, porcelain and other collectables. Entry fee which includes a 20 minute guided tour (in numerous languages) costs approx $4 Adult/$2 Student and is highly entertaining with plenty of anecdotal stories and superstitious folklore thrown in.

The meandering gardens separating the teak buildings are lush and cool, ending at a sizable, crystal clear fish pond and adjoining café. The café has open air seating and an enclosed air-conditioned section for those less used to the humidity. I can highly recommend the Pad Thai with prawns and lychee/mint/lime frappe which was simply divine.

Prior to leaving, a browse through the silk showroom with its impressive array of superior quality Thai silk clothing and products is a must.

A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a few hours away from the daily buzz of Bangkok.

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