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We are going to Thailand - What is the deal with Jim Thompson?

We are going to Thailand - What is the deal with Jim Thompson?

Jan 15th, 2009, 04:16 PM
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We are going to Thailand - What is the deal with Jim Thompson?

Hello knowledgable fodorites! I learn so much from this site - thank you for your travel expertise. I have read alot of Jim Thompson - who is this guy? Seems like he has a store, restaurant, etc. I am hoping you can enlightnen me
goalis7continents is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 04:34 PM
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Jim Thompson was an American who is credited with revitalizing the Thai silk industry. He built an amazing house in Bangkok (actually he moved several Thai houses from other locations) to which guided tours are given daily. The stores sell very nice silk and cotton garments. There are many different store locations, but a main one in BKK and a very goos outlet also in BKK. His death is clouded in mystery. You can always look him up on Wikipedia to find out much more.
Gpanda is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 04:48 PM
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I bet he was originally there for the wimmenz.
Mango7 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 05:00 PM
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many of us consider JT to be the highest quality items readily available in thailand...

his story is very interesting, but what his company has done and the condition of his museum house in bkk are the draw for us...

i consider his house to be #2 for tourist visits in bkk
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 05:13 PM
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I'm sure you can google his story. He disappeared while hiking in Malaysai and was never found. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 05:13 PM
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Apart from what Gpanda and Rhkkmk, disregarding Mangos' uninformed knowledge of JT, here's a cut and paste about JT from the net:

During World War II, he was recruited by William Joseph Donovan and served as a commissioned officer in the Office of Strategic Services (which in 1947 was disbanded in place of the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency). Thompson used his fluent French on daring missions behind enemy lines in German-occupied France. After Victory in Europe Day (May 7 - May 8, 1945), Thompson was transferred to Ceylon. He was about to be deployed in Thailand when the Surrender of Japan in August-September of the same year officially ended World War II. Thompson arrived in Thailand several weeks after Victory over Japan Day to take charge of the Bangkok OSS office.

Leaving the US Army in 1946, he returned home to bring his wife back to Thailand. She did not agree to this and divorced him. Thompson returned to Bangkok, embarking on a renovation of the Oriental Hotel with a number of partners. From here he worked with a number of Thai investors to found the Thai Silk Company, in 1947. Although he officially abandoned intelligence activities, many have suspected he was still a non-official cover. During the Vietnam War, his closest friend, General Edwin Black, was in charge of United States Air Force operations over Laos and Thailand.

[edit] Return to private industry
A civilian once more, Thompson devoted himself to revitalizing a cottage industry of hand-woven silk, which had for centuries been a household craft in Thailand but was dying out. Thompson located a group of Muslim (Cham) weavers in the Bangkok neighborhood of Bankrua and provided hitherto unavailable color-fast dyes, standardized looms, and technical assistance to those interested in weaving on a piece-work basis.

Besides inventing the bright jewel tones and dramatic color combinations nowadays associated with Thai silk, he raised thousands of Thailand's poorest people out of poverty, making millionaires out of his core group of weavers by giving them shares of the Thai Silk Company. His endeavour showed a profit from its first year of operation. Thompson's determination to keep his company cottage-based was significant for the women who made up the bulk of his work force. By allowing them to work at home, choosing their hours and looking after their children while weaving, they retained their position in the household while becoming breadwinners.

It was only after Thompson's disappearance that the Thai Silk Company relocated its weaving operations to Khorat, a city which serves as a base of operations for the Royal Thai Army. Although the Company abandoned home-based weaving in favor of factories in the early 1970s, the Thai Silk Company's Khorat facility looks more like a beautifully landscaped campus than a factory.

As Thompson was building his company, he also became a major collector of Southeast Asian art, which at the time was not well-known internationally. He built a superb collection of Buddhist and secular art not only from Thailand but from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, frequently travelling to those countries on buying trips.

In 1958 he began what was to be the pinnacle of his architectural achievement, a new home to showcase his art collection. Formed from parts of six antique Thai houses, his home (completed in 1959) sits on a klong (canal) across from Bangkrua, where his weavers were then located. Most of the 19th century houses were dismantled and moved from Ayutthaya, but the largest - a weaver's house (now the living room) - came from Bangkrua. The Jim Thompson House, now a museum, is the second most popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, surpassed only by the Grand Palace in visitor attendance.
Hanuman is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 05:16 PM
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May even have been the menz...

Anyhoo, Jim Thompson was said to disappear from the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.

His 'houses' are lovely and are worth the visit. 'He' has a number of stores around Bangkok city and has an outlet store a bit further out - I can't remember exactly where - I'm sure it'll be on the Jim Thompson website.

If you're into buying silk, then I think I'd recommend Almeta over Jim Thompson, though the range is not nearly as large (http://www.almeta.com/). Almeta can do bespoke designs but have a lovely range of embroidered duvet covers etc. I got a duvet cover embroidered with 'our symbol' for my husband for our anniversary - we're too scared to use it though!!
crispylips is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 05:41 PM
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thanks pook, i'd forgotten some of those details...

there are of course other great silk companies in bkk, but the JT Co has silk and finished items for tourists and locals alike....almeeta is one of the other good ones....located on soi 23, sukhumvit i think
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 06:13 PM
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FFS, Hanuman, it was said in jest.
Mango7 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 06:15 PM
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Thanks! I knew I could depend on all of you for the great info. I am anxious to check out his house & store.
goalis7continents is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 06:18 PM
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kuranosuke is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 06:25 PM
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make sure you visit his main store on suriwongse at corner of rama IV... great place for lunch too on 2nd floor...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 06:59 PM
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FYI here's the link for the JT website: http://www.jimthompson.com/index.asp

As Rhkkmk pointed out they do have a chain of restaurant too.
Hanuman is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 10:51 PM
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as an aside we went to the Jim Thompson restaurant in Star hill gallery in KL and it was VERY good.
Smeagol is offline  
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