Bangkok: Jim Thompson, Cultural Museum, and one BIG Buddha!

Monday May 13 2013
Bangkok Highlights: The Jim Thompson House, The Bangkok Arts and Cultural Museum, and Wat Pho.

Above: One of the treasures at the Jim Thompson House

The Jim Thompson House: The tour of the Jim Thompson House was beautiful – far from the commercialized venue that I feared it would be. Jim Thompson, an American, came to Bangkok after being stationed here in the war. In 1948 he founded the Thai Silk Company; he is credited with saving the silk industry of Thailand and making it famous.

He helped the Thais change their colors to colors which would appeal to buyers. He became well known after his dramatic jewel-toned silks were used in the movie, “The King and I.” An English speaking tour guide took a small group of us around the buildings and gardens.

One of many lovely spaces on the ground level of the Jim Thompson collection of traditional Thai houses.

Thompson set up the Thai Silk company in cottage industry format, and through this structure, he brought thousands of people up from poverty. Women were allowed to work from home, keeping families together while raising incomes.

It poured rain while we assembled for our group tour – ahh, the sound of rain falling in a jungle.

Thompson was an architect and collector – and his home is a tribute to Thai style with an amazing zen-like tranquility.

I had lunch at the Jim Thompson House – overlooking the koi pond.

Jim Thompson disappeared in 1967 while walking in the jungles of Malaysia. Despite massive manhunts for him, he was never found.

Charlies Design – Custom-made clothes! No sleeves yet.

New clothes delivered on a motor cycle! Appropriately after my tour of the silk roots of Thailand, we had the first fitting for our new Thai silk duds from Charlie’s Design Fashion House (25/3 Sukhumvit Sio 16). The tailor guy came right to our hotel room -on a motor cycle! John got two jackets and two pairs of pants; I got a raw silk jacket and black silk pants.

The picture above is in Charlie’sTailor shop on Saturday night

Here we are on Saturday night (just after arriving in Thailand) in Charlie’s Design Fashion House. We met the owner and negotiated the prices. Probably paid what we would pay for okay off-the-rack clothes at home. (Incidentally, they keep our sizes on record and they even come to the US from time to time.)

Ordered on Saturday night, fitting on Monday night, done on Tuesday night! What a fit! Raw silk. These guys are good.

Our finished products – perfect!

We had dinner with our friend Stefan Nicles at the Ban Rai Coffee Restaurant – a fabulous outdoor garden setting with picnic tables, live music, scrumptious Thai food and festive lights.

It was an amazing setting. Oh how I wish I could beam ourselves here in years to come when things are cold and gray in Wisconsin.

Stefan brought the wine from home – “They don’t have good wine here.”

Tuesday May 14th

I took off by sky train to the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center (BACC) next to the National Stadium. The special exhibitions were fabulous. The main exhibition was on Counterfeiting – with a focus on counterfeit FAKE drugs!

Counterfeiting Exhibition. Here are a few artist’s interpretations of the harm done by the huge and lucrative fake drug trade – not only in Asia and Africa, but worldwide through online sales.

There was an excellent documentary which told how the drugs are made and distributed, and sad stories of millions of people dying (for example, from fake Malaria medicines when the real ones are available for only $10 per person).

The exhibition also showed examples of copied designer wallets, shirts, watches, and electronics – the copy placed beside the authentic product. Even products like small parts for automobiles are now being copied – with risks associated for the consumers in addition to the ethical problems. The exhibition sought to inform people to buy originals! It just seemed so amazing to see an exhibition like this when on the streets – here and in China – there seems to be unbridled enthusiasm for selling you fake Gucci bags and everything else. But think about it – fake heart medicine? Fake automobile breaks?

A scene from the documentary film shown at the exhibition. Here they are discussing the supply chain – how fake drugs get on containers, trucks, and even motor cycles and into pharmacies and into homes.

There was another exhibition on digital imaging and the use of multiple copies in artwork.

Lunch at MK

This place is a chain – and for about $7 US I had a fantastic lunch including dim sum in this cute little steaming basket! Would take this over MacDonald’s or DQ any day.

Wat Pho
I thought I should finally see The largest gold reclining Buddha on my last (maybe) trip to Bangkok. It was amazing – but the walls and ceilings of the temple were really as impressive as the gold Buddha itself. Imagine the “ting, ting, ting” as people purchased bowls full of coins and deposited them, one at a time, in the metal bowls set in a line along the walkway around the Buddha.

Paintings on the walls of the temple.

Back of head and ceiling.

Other buildings in the Wat Pho

We had dinner at our original Thai restaurant in the area with whole gang – a Thai version of family style dining – with mango, sticky rice and ice cream for dessert!

Oh Thailand, in your sweltering heat you are pulsing with life, beauty, and surprises. Your past is jeweled, your art raises real issues, and your people are gentle and spiritual. One line seems to recur again and again in conversations with our friends from all parts of Asia: “If you have a choice, live in Thailand!”

Martha – Madly Traveling Asia with Faucet Marketing Husband

Location:Grassy Ln,Elkhart Lake,United States


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