Jim Thompson Mystery Solved!

SOLVED! The Mysterious Disappearance of Jim Thompson, the Thai Silk King

Chapter 4

Jim's 'House on the Klong'

Jim was unlike any other figure in Southeast Asia. He was an American, an ex-architect, a retired army officer, a one-time spy, a silk merchant, a millionaire and a renowned collector of antiques. Most of his treasures, if not all, were amassed since the day he first came to Thailand. As time slipped by, his assortment outgrew its surroundings and this left him with not much of a choice but to find a suitable place to house them. For quite some time he toyed with the idea of constructing a dwelling which was quite unlike any other in the region. Apart from serving as his place of residence, it also had to double up as a repository for his artifacts. It was a tall order, no doubt, but he managed to achieve it nevertheless. Using parts of old up-country houses - some as old as a hundred and twenty years - he succeeded in completing his 'House on the Klong' in 1959. It was basically a colony of six traditional houses which were reassembled into his much larger place of abode. The units were dismantled and brought over via river from the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya. On arrival, they were carefully offloaded and pieced together. Of the six, three were left untouched.

In his quest for authenticity, he saw to it that the imposing structures were elevated a full floor above the ground. During the construction stage, he added his own touches to the buildings by positioning, for instance, a central staircase indoors rather than having it outside. Along the way, he also reversed the wall panels in his home so that it now faced inside instead of it having an external orientation.

While the final outcome of his domicile may not have been as what one would expect traditionally, it could be taken that Jim had a certain fondness for it. After he was through with its creation, he went ahead and filled his home with the items which he had collected over the years. Scattered about his rooms were scores of Chinese blue-and-white Ming pieces, Belgian glass, Cambodian stone figures, Victorian chandeliers, five-coloured Bencharong, Thai stone images, Burmese statues and a dining table which was once used by King Rama V of Thailand.

In all, his mammoth 'House on the Klong' took up close to a hectare in area. The garden around the habitation was nothing short of a lush, well-kept mini-jungle. On it stood a typical Thai spirit house.

It took Jim almost a year to put his house in order. On completion, it turned out to be an architectural masterpiece. The press were quick to describe it as "one of the wonders of the East". In several ways, they were right: till today, it stands out as one of Bangkok's most charming attractions.



SOLVED! The Mysterious Disappearance of Jim Thompson, the Legendary Thai Silk King (Excerpt) by Edward Roy De Souza

Excerpts from "SOLVED! The Mysterious Disappearance of Jim Thompson, the Legendary Thai Silk King", an imprint of Word Association Publishers (www.wordassociation.com), 205 5th Avenue, Tarentum, PA 15084, USA. ISBN: 1-932205-89-6. Copyright 2004 by Edward Roy De Souza. roysouza@singnet.com.sg

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Posted on 8-Aug-2006

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