Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Jim Thompson House

Whenever in Bangkok, Kade and I go back to The Jim Thompson House, where she was working when we first met.  Kade still has friends who work there, and we get to "knock out" seeing several at once.  This legendary house, with its remarkable grounds and gardens, is an oasis in a city that can easily overwhelm you.  If you're staying in Bangkok for a week, it's got to be on your list of things to do.  Besides learning the history of the home and regional silk industry, you can have a relaxing coffee and breakfast or a delicious lunch.  Afterwards, in the silk shop, you can grab up some quality souvenirs, clothing and accessories.  And, if you're a single guy like I was on my first visit, you might even fall in love!

For those traveling to Bangkok for the first time, and therefore may be a bit vulnerable to scams, here's a big tip: The Jim Thompson House, along with other notable city landmarks, sometimes has tuk tuk drivers or men who are dressed well, speak English and appear friendly, just hanging around down the road (or soi).  And when tourists come walk up the street looking for, in this case, The Jim Thompson House, these people often say, "Hey, it's closed today. But I can help you."  The next thing you know, your map is out and this "friendly" person is apparently coming to your rescue.  But that's the ruse!  They want to take you to another silk shop or place where they can get a commission off a sale of some kind.  I doubt your life is ever in danger.  For them, it's about money.  What you need to do is know where you're going during the day, and even if someone tells you it's closed, find out for yourself.  Or look for someone more official to ask.  I think students who speak English well are sometimes good to ask.   Again, unless you want frustration, trust your own instincts.  And rely on your guidebooks!  I am speaking from personal experience here.  My first trip to Bangkok, on my way to the Grand Palace from Khao San Road - I was walking - a tuk tuk driver said repeatedly, with a smile on his face, "The Grand Palace is closed today.  It's a holiday."  Fortunately for me, I had already purchased a Lonely Planet guidebook and had read about Grand Palace and its opening hours.  I also read a blurb about scams like that.  So I was ready!

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