13 October 2008

Jim Thompson

This is my Jim Thompson weekend.

He is a local star around here. He came to Thailand, revived the silk industry, and today is the existing gold standard and brand in the entire country.

We visited his house and museum, which holds many of his personal and cultural relics. It's an traditional style Thai house, a rarity in a city fast being taken over by highrises. The house and complex is quite beautiful, with a very green lush leafy garden maintained in the middle. If I wasn't so sweaty and mugged by so many invisible bugs, I probably would have enjoyed it more.

It's really ironic. One of their most revered men of the 20th century is an American. That he would be the one to revive a silk industry that is identified as a special Thai specialty. That he would be the one to build one of the remaining old traditional teak Thai homes, even with some amenities for modern living.

Thompson disappeared in 1967 while in Malaysia for vacation. According to the guide, he vanished when apparently "leaving the hotel to take a walk." The guide half-cheekily added that today he would be 102 years old and if anyone knew anything about his whereabouts, please let them know. We argued all the way back home on what we suspect to be his fate. Dad, ever the purist, said it was an accidental death. Mum said his nephew and heir did it. I say it was the Russians.

Mum and I went to the Jim Thompson outlet store this afternoon. It was five stories of Jim Thompson products. The products are no longer just silk. Jim Thompson has evolved to more than silk, although that still remains its claim to fame. It is a brand name today. The bulk of the store was frabics still in rolls, sold by the metre. Having no specific products in mind, we bought a purse for each of my aunts and a couple of stuffed elephants and took off.

It was naptime anyway.

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