The House That Silk Built

I’ve always been fascinated by how people live.  Going to house museums is a wonderful way to understand people’s cultures by taking a peek at their rooms, their dinnerware, their clothes, and other items of everyday living.

The Jim Thompson House Museum is one such place.  Consisting of different houses that Thompson bought, transferred, and joined together at the present address, it offers a quaint retrospective on how the guy who set foot in the Kingdom, fell in love with its people and culture, and single-handedly revived Thai silk making and made his fortune, lived.  To satisfy Bam’s curiosity about the old Bangkok way of life, we went to the museum today.   Though not exactly, a replica of the traditional Bangkok way of life, the Jim Thompson house at least offers a splendid tour of a beautiful house and its grounds amidst the soaring skyscrapers of Bangkok.

Wood block for printing textilesJust a short walk from the BTS National Stadium station, there were already a lot of people when we got there. It was my second time at the house but it did not make the tour less interesting to me. I did see some things I missed before and learned some such as:

1.  The black and white marble tiles were all imported from Italy and were of the type used in Thai palaces.  Because the black ones elicited more warmth, people would walk on them during the cold season.

2.  In Thai paintings, the artist would always leave something unfinished.  It may be an unpainted eyebrow, an entire face, or a tree to signify that his life was not over yet.  To entirely finish a painting meant that one’s life was finished as well.

It would have been more interesting if the place was re-created in such a way as to show how Thompson really lived as some of the pieces were simply put in the rooms for decorative purposes.  Bam observed that she didn’t see any clothes closet.  The pantry, for example, was converted into an exhibit space to showcase Jim’s pretty benjarong ware.

We didn’t bother to go to the store anymore as we knew that everything would be quite expensive. The bathrobes that Cindy asked me to buy for her and which I got from the store at Central World cost TH3,000 each. They were really nice though and seemed worth the price and the reputation.

We walked to MBK for more shopping and a dose of really hot catfish salad, a couple of those thin Thai crepes filled with coconut, and a bowl of Thai halo-halo. I picked-up some purses to give a souvenirs for the household staff back home.  After wards, we headed to Platinum as Bam wanted to go back to the store selling all white ladies blouses to pick-up some stuff.  Maybe because I am saving-up for the Dec-Jan trip but I have not been a shopping mood.  So far, the only item I bought for myself was the lingam I got at one of the stalls lining the street to Wat Po.

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