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I was told a cab would cost about 70 baht ($2+) but the first tuk tuk asked for 200. We finally settled on 100. A tuk tuk is a motorcycle with an open cab on it that can seat 2 or 3. It was definitely windy
|Typical tuk tuk|
|View from back seat of tuk tuk|
. The area is very crowded so with the motorcycle base he could make u-turns on a dime in the middle of a block. He dropped me off about 6 blocks away as the street was being closed off by anti-govt demonstrators.
With a lot of help, I found the Jim Thompson house at the end of a nondescript lane.
Thompson was an American architect born in 1906. He volunteered in WWII but saw no real action but worked for the OSS. He was based in Thailand, fell in love with it and returned after the war. He founded the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company, reviving the silk industry in Thailand and adding many colors.
He welcomed many visitors to Thailand. and to his home that was finished in 1959. In 1967, Jim Thompson went on holiday with friends to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. There he set out for a walk in the surrounding jungle but never returned.
For his contribution to the development of the Thai Silk industry, Jim Thompson was awarded the Order of the White Elephant, a decoration bestowed upon foreigners for having rendered exceptional service to Thailand.
I paid 100 baht (($3) to get in and for a 40-min group tour by a very competent young woman. First and afterwards I walked around the gardens a bit.
Jim Thompson's Thai teak house stands on one 'rai' of land, (equivalent to approximately half an acre) and is enveloped by beautifully landscaped gardens. Thompson found the haphazard look of nature's lush tropical jungles appealing. This jungle landscape in the midst of the city gives the house its unique appeal.
The house consists of 6 traditional Thai houses that he bought and moved to the location. the main part, the living room is the oldest and is over 200 years old.
We could not take photos inside the house but could of the gardens and 2 other houses int he complex, origianlly for servants and grounds keepers. He collected a lot of art from many places in the area, the Thai kingdom, China, etc. Some of the pottery was of Thai design but made in China in the 18th and 19th century as Thais did not do that kind of work.
The original entrance to the house was off of the canal.
Living quarters are up a story, on stilts.
Now part of the garden is under the house. His most important/oldest item int he collection is a 7th century Buddha without arms and a head, which probably were destroyed int he war.
There is a small Spirit "house" with yellow flowers in the NE corner of the property, to avoid having the shadow of the house ever fall on it. It is tp protect the house from evil spirits. Gifts are given to the spirits in the form of flowers, food and incense.
While inside the house, there was a short but strong rain fall outside.
The house frames were slanted slighted to help stabilize the traditional buildings which are on stilts, and without nails, just pegs.
We took off our shoes to enter the main house. Thai people traditionally ate on the floor so tookshoes off for cleanliness.
The house was a mix of Thai tradition and Western furniture.
Between rooms, people step up over a threshhold. It helps to stabilize the house,keeps out evil spirits (who would trip over it) and keep babies in the rooms.
Thais traditionally used the house (on stilts) for sleeping. The ate and socialized on a covered porch off the house, also on stilts. When asked what Thais traditionally used to protect themselves from insects, were were told lemon grass oil, incense, and mosquito nettng at night.
Some interesting artifacts inside the house: a small "mouse" house for children's entertainment, and porcelain chamber pots (one in the shape of a cat where the head is removed--best for men.)
After walking through the outside structures on my own, I got a free tuk tuk ride about 6 blocks to the main street. However, it was blocked off by government protestors. Some were selling shirts, etc. for the protest but many were selling food, etc. I walked another 2 blocks, found tuk tuks, negotiated a ride back from 400 baht to 100, and returned to the hotel. Thank goodness I had the hotel card with me in Thai (and English) writing too.
I would not rate this as a top thing to do in Bangkok, but it game me a chance for a bit of quiet and beauty in this very busy city
This will probably be the most I write on this blog as I have time now on the hotel computer while I am waiting for Marcy who should be landing at any moment.