Hiking in the Cinque Terre

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jim Thompson House Museum

In March of 2000, I first met Kade at the historic Jim Thompson House Museum, where she was working. I was about 45 days into my Asian travels, having arrived in Bangkok about two weeks earlier.  After spending time in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, I returned to Kao San Rd. in Bangkok.  I bought a Thailand Lonely Planet, and started reading it for things to do.  I read about this legendary Bangkok home that had an American connection.  I just had to see it.  One day I jumped on one of the city buses and made my way to another section of this gigantic city.  I struck up a conversation with a young Thai lady on the bus, and she ultimately took me to a Starbucks in the Siam Center (shopping mall).  She waited there till her boyfriend arrived, and I fueled up on caffeine before trying to make my way to the Jim Thompson House.  For some reason, before finding the house, I went into another huge mall - this one, Siam Discovery - and asked the information desk if the Jim Thompson House was in the building.  They laughed, and told me to walk around the complex, and over a bit.  It would be down near a klong (Thai for canal).

I arrived at Jim Thompson wearing my backpacking clothes (way too under dressed for this part of town) and proceeded to join a tour.  I found the home and all the artwork and antiques to be quite remarkable.  I also remember thinking the guide - a young Thai lady - was quite attractive.  When the tour concluded, I walked over to the Jim Thompson silk shop.  It was then that I first caught a glimpse of Kade.  She and another young lady were working there, and it was almost closing time.  After purchasing some postcards and two books, I exchanged e-mail addresses with them.  I remember one in particular (and it turned out to be Kade) had an unbelievable smile.  And, although we exchanged e-mail addresses that day, it was another two months or more before we actually reconnected.  My mind was on Southern Thai islands, Malaysia, Singapore and perhaps other far-flung destinations.  To Kade I was just another friendly tourist who thought it would be nice to remain connected via e-mail.

In 2009, Kade and I visited the Jim Thompson House to reminisce and see old friends. At the end of this post, you can see some YouTube videos I made of this return visit.
Kade is second from the left.

I didn't take this picture, but it's from during that year when Kade and I first met.  Gotta love the lipstick!

This is a scan of the actual postcard I bought on my very first visit to Jim Thompson.  I mailed it to Mother.  See below.

A book I also bought during that first visit.  I got it for Mother, and mailed it to her with some other items I purchased during my travels.

(L-R) Rose, Kade, Puk

Kade, on the town with her colleagues/friends.

Photo above is from the Jim Thompson pageant.  That's Kade.  A year earlier she was First Runner-Up in the Miss Jim Thompson contest (see two pics below).  I believe that the winner could not attend the next year's event, and Kade was asked to fill in for her.  This black silk dress is part of a Jim Thompson line.  For the pageant, they (Jim Thompson) provided this dress for Kade.  After the pageant was over, I actually bought this very dress for Kade as a surprise.

When Uncle Jim came over for our wedding in 2003, we took him to the Jim Thompson House. For more pics of the stunning home, click here.  While he was in Bangkok, we made sure he had other memorable experiences:  The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, The Floating Market, Dinner Cruise, and Seafood Market Restaurant.  The day Uncle Jim visited the Grand Palace, Kade actually was his tour guide.  I was teaching that day.  The dinner cruise video above shows what the experience was like on the river.  However, what we actually went on - I believe courtesy of our cousin, Carol Oates Gentemann - was the Mandarin Oriental Dinner Cruise.  I just couldn't find a video of it.  Thanks for the treat, Carol!!!!

On an off-day (or maybe after work one day), Kade was with a colleague/friend
who was preparing for her graduation ceremony.  Images made inside buildings at the Jim Thompson Museum.

On a visit to Singapore, Kade and I stopped by the Jim Thompson store on the grounds of the world famous Raffles Hotel.  This is a portrait of Mr. Jim Thompson.

To read more about Jim Thompson, click here.

As you know, there's a huge Jim Thompson store in the Surawong (near Silom).  But you may not know that Jim Thompson had a little bakery and tea shop in Saladang (also near Silom).  Not sure if it's open now.  Kade took me there in our early days of dating.  I do remember, once I returned to Alabama for a visit, sitting with Aunt Marilyn at her home and showing her this picture.  Before I finished my sentence about Kade, Aunt Marilyn said, "She sure is pretty."

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