Jim Thompson Mystery Solved!

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

Chapter 5

Jim visits the Cameron Highlands

There is no doubt that Jim was, in very many ways, responsible for bringing the Thai silk industry to the forefront. It started off with nothing new; over time, Thai silk, which was unknown to the outside world, grew in both demand and popularity. Jim was especially proud of his contribution; it gave him a deep sense of joy and accomplishment. However, his success came with a price. To a large extent, it drained him.

His friends and business associates were well aware of the fact that his work was slowly beginning to have an effect on his health. Out of good cheer, they encouraged him to take a break. He did so.

On Friday, March 24, 1967, he and Mrs. Constance Mangskau, 59, took the occasion to holiday at Malaysia's Cameron Highlands. Located on the northwestern tip of Pahang, the outpost is one of Malaysia's most extensive hill stations. It is about fifty kilometers off the main Kuala Lumpur-Ipoh-Butterworth road at Tapah, Perak.

The Highlands has long been a favourite stopover for the many who want to escape from the heat of the lowlands. It got its name from William Cameron, a British surveyor who was commissioned by the then colonial government to map out the area in 1885. In a statement concerning his mapping expedition, William mentioned that he saw "a vortex in the mountains, while for a (reasonably) wide area we have gentle slopes and plateau land".

When approached, the late Sir Hugh Low, the Resident of Perak, expressed the wish of developing the flat terrain as a "sanatorium, health resort and open farmland". But it was not until twenty years later that the first pioneers managed to find their way to the top of 'Cameron's Land'. They were soon followed by tea planters and vegetable growers who found the fertile soil, good drainage and cool climate to be especially suitable for the growing of their crops.

On the whole, the Highlands can be considered as a world in miniature. It occupies the smallest constituency in Pahang, taking up an area of around 448 square kilometres. To the north, its boundary touches that of Kelantan; to the west, it shares part of its border with Perak. During the day, the temperature seldom soars above 25 degrees Celsius. At night, it is quite the opposite: the temperature can sometimes drop to as low as 3 degrees Celsius. The cool climate makes it an ideal place for tea to be grown. The growing of tea had its beginnings in 1926 when the British started the first plantations with saplings brought over from India. Today, there are no less than five established tea estates at the haven.

Apart from tea, the moorland is also noted for its insect life, jungle tracks, waterfalls, soaring peaks, scenic spots and last but not least, it awe-inspiring natives.

The aborigines of the region are believed to have migrated into the area long before the arrival of the Malays. On the surface, their lifestyle has always been made out to be both primitive and backward. But this has gradually changed over the years. While many have left to take up employment and residence in the nearby towns, there are still some who prefer to treat the jungle as their home. The woodlands that they live in can be considered as thick and dense but the challenges that it has to offer are indeed varied. Many who have been to the terminal have acknowledged this to be so. Jim was no exception. He found the appeal of the forest to be both irresistible and infinite. So too did his friend, Dr Tien Gi Ling, a Singaporean-Chinese chemist and Helen, his white American-born wife.


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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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