The Jim Thompson House

One of Bangkok’s top attractions, aside from the Grand Palace and the temples nearby (Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun) is the Jim Thompson house. Jim Thompson was an American architect born in 1906, who joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. One of his assignments was to free Thailand from the Japanese army, and soon after Japan surrendered Thompson went to Thailand to set up an OSS office in Bangkok. Thompson fell in love with Thai culture and decided to make Bangkok his home. He built a traditional Thai house, which is actually six different houses connected together, as his home. The house has several antiques from Thailand, as well as many other Asian and European countries.

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Thompson is also credited with saving the Thai silk industry, which had been declining. Thompson founded a silk company and Thai silk’s were used in the musical film The King and I which gave Thai silk worldwide acclaim and recognition.

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Two women weaving silk outside the house.

The house grounds are really quite beautiful, as well. Tourists are required to see the house in a group tour and lock up belongings in a locker before going in, and photos of the inside are prohibited.

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But there is another thing about this place that draws in tourists like myself, aside from the silks and Thompson’s eye for design — the mysterious disappearance of Thompson decades ago in 1967. Thompson disappeared while on holiday in the jungles of Malaysia, and was never seen or heard from again. Perhaps his activities with the OSS (precursor to the CIA) had something to do with it. Maybe Thompson wanted to start his life over in another Southeast Asian country, and made for Burma or Cambodia. Or maybe he died in the forest not long after. There was a very large search party conducted for the man, but no results. No theory has any evidence to support it.

This was the first attraction I visited because it was so close to my hostel, Lub’ d Bangkok Siam Square. Almost right next door. If coming from the Skytrain, simply take exit 1 and walk down the stairs and turn to walk in the opposite direction.

Lub’ d has a pretty large sign that’s easy to see. The house is located up a small street, called Soi Kasemsan (2) Song, which is a short walk past Lub’d. There is a sign at the end of the street indicating where the house is.

Lub’d itself I thought was a decent place to stay, but I think I would probably stay elsewhere next time in Bangkok. Lub’d has a great location and good facilities, and (most of) the staff were nice and helpful (they upgraded me to a single room for a dorm price the day after I hit my head). I liked the fact they had all female dorms for 4 and a separate women’s bathroom. The problem was that the dorm room smelled quite funky at times (but appeared clean) and it was quite expensive for the city. I didn’t stay anywhere else to compare it to but I’d imagine there might be better places to stay in Bangkok for cheaper.

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