Jim Thompson, an American businessman, revitalised the Thai silk industry before mysteriously disappearing in 1967 in the Cameron Highlands. He was never seen again.
His “house”:http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com/ in Bangkok is open to the public and, having visited several years ago, we returned to what we remember as being a lovely place to wander around. We were therefore disappointed by its commercialism with restaurant, café, Art Center (sic) and huge shop.
We bought tickets 200 Baht/£5 each, not noticing the sign saying admission was by guided tour only. We were directed to another building, passing weaving demonstrations and baskets of silk on the way, and found that tours were available in English, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and French. The next English tour was a 45-minute wait.
As we’d had a long hot and tiring walk to the house and it was now late afternoon, we asked for a refund which wasn’t a problem. We did however have a look in the shop, and after checking the prices and conversion rate on my calculator, we quickly left – a scarf was an exorbitant £93. However, there were some lovely designs on the bags, scarves, hats, purses etc.
Outside we were assailed by a tuk tuk driver who wanted 300 Baht to take us to our hotel. Having decided in advance, we wouldn’t pay more than 200 Baht, I suggested 150. He told us that if we stopped off at a silk shop for a few minutes, so he qualified for petrol coupons, he would charge 100 Baht.
This seemed like a win-win for both parties and we headed off to Emporium Armani on Petchaburi New Road. We’d hoped for bags and scarves to buy as next year’s Christmas presents but it was a tailors and totally unsuitable for a casually-dressing retired couple. However, we did make encouraging noises about the quality of fabrics, whilst quaffing a complimentary glass of water.
Back in the tuk-tuk, and clutching our VIP discount card, we completed our journey to the hotel and paid the driver who didn’t look for a tip. Jim Thompson then paid for a chilled beer at the hotel bar.