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posted by The Bangkok Consultant

Jim Thomson Legend

What's the story with the Jim Thomson House?

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The Jim Thomson story, and what he did in Thailand, is one of Thailand's greatest farang tales. As a young man, American businessman, Jim Thomson arrived in Thailand just after WW2. Beguiled by its beauty, he quickly returned after being discharged from the army.


A great lover of fine art, he soon began to amass antiquities from right across Thailand including porcelains, sculptures and paintings. On one of his many excursions in pursuit of things that pleased him, he encountered silk for the first time. During this period, Thai silk was very rare and was only weaved for special occasions such as weddings and so forth.


He quickly began to see its potential in foreign markets, particularly in the US, so he managed to track down the few remaining weavers in Bangkok and convinced them to produce the silk for him. He set up The Thai Silk Company LTD and set about building an internationally recognised company producing some of the worlds finest silks overtaking the Chinese and Indian markets.


In time, he became the most famous farang in Thailand, so much so that a letter that was only addressed 'Jim Thomson' still got delivered to him.


By now his, art collection was also becoming significant, so he decided to build himself a house. Being a former architect, this would be his labour of love. He managed to source old teak houses from various places in Thailand, some being over a hundred years old. He managed to piece together several different houses to make one of the finest buildings in Bangkok, at the time.


But there's more! Jim Thomson vanished without a trace when visiting friends in Malaysia in 1967. He was an experienced trekker with military training, but one fateful day while trekking through the jungle he disappeared. Many a conspiracy theories have been thrown around over the years, but nothing concrete was ever proved.


Today, the house is a museum in Bangkok and is a great place to visit, especially if you know the story that surrounds it. You can find Jim Thomson silk shops at Siam Paragon, Don Mueang Airport, and other parts of Southeast Asia.


There's a compulsory tour included and after you are free to wander around the house and see some of arts and antiquities that Thomson collected during his time in Thailand. There's also the FREE Jim Thomson art center within the compound and, of course, a JT store for you to buy silk.


Best reached by National Stadium BTS Station (5 mins walk)


Admittance: Adult/Child - 100b/50b


Related Reading:


A Learning Curve, by Paul Raftery



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