Sawasdee Torn Chao (good morning) everyone!
Traveling can be rewarding but it is also important to take a breather. Then again, you find yourselves caught up in a limbo. You are tired yet you still want to explore, to see something special, something that you won’t otherwise get to experience unless you are in Thailand.
If you are staying at Chao Hostel or you are ever near the Siam area, getting to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha) or Wat Arun may seem like they are a little out of the way, especially on your last day.
So let’s hypothesise that you are not feeling like having a hectic day (maybe its the hangover?). You looking for a nice and slow day, visiting something near-by or having 2-4 hours to kill before having to leave the area for the airport, we recommend visiting the Jim Thompson House.
Might not sound like the most authentic experience around, considering Mr. Thompson was an American “spy”, well an OSS Agent (Office of Strategic Services was the predecessor of CIA). But he was also a fellow adventurer, who decided to settle down in Bangkok after his post has expired after the Second World War. He lived in Thailand until his mysterious disappearance in Malaysia in the late 60s.
He was not your average expat, James Harrison Wilson Thompson has arguably singlehandedly revived Thailand’s silk industry and provided jobs for a significant number of less fortunate Thais, uplifting them from poverty. He also allowed the women to work from home so that they can maintain their devotion to their families yet at the same time being able to provide for their respective families.
Fun Fact: In 1951, his Silk company faced one of its first big successes from providing Thai Silk for the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Musical, The King and I.
Given his architectural background, the house is made of teak and is in fact an old traditional Thai house from Ayutthaya that was restructured to Jim Thompson’s liking and style. One of the most notable change is the stairs being on the “inside” of the house rather than the “outside” like most traditional Thai homes.
Aside from the Silk and his beautiful home, he was also one of the first Southeast Asian Art collectors. Many of antiques and art pieces are on display at the Jim Thompson House. Therefore, have no fear if you only have a short time left in Bangkok, the Jim Thompson House Museum is only a 5 minute walk away from Chao Hostel and its full of rare art collections and rich history.
⁃ Option 1: Coming out of Chao Hostel, (1) take a left and walk down to the end of the soi (Alley) then (2) take a right and walk along the Klong (Canal) until you reach the next street. (3) Then take the left once you’ve reach the next alley. And you’ll find a Sign that will direct you to the Jim Thompson House.
⁃ Option 2: Coming out of Chao Hostel, (1) take a right and walk to the main street, (2) then take a left along the road until you reach the next alley (Soi Kasem San 2), (3) take a left and keep walking to the end of the alley, and the Jim Thompson House should be on your left.
If you can’t decide, leave life to chance, flip a coin! Heads for Option 1, Tails for Option 2.
Happy exploring everyone!
From all of us at Chao Hostel, Sawasdee Krub.
Photograph by D Ramey Logan*