Jim Thompson a silky dude from the west


Before my retirement from business, I spent several years working in the clothing and textile industry in South Africa and whilst I was there to help improve the organisations and individuals performance, it was perfectly natural for me to learn a lot about their processes and products. After a few months, I realised that in many cases, I understood their processes much better than they did, quite astonishing, but perfectly natural for business coaches looking in from the outside. Oh yeah, let me recap, I mean before my first of many retirements 🙂


Alas, I digress, let me get back on topic. I guess my recent business interest in textiles and fabrics somehow spurred me into wanting to visit The Jim Thompson House in Bangkok. An american soldier from WWII who ended up staying in Thailand after becoming intrigued, fascinated and identifying a huge opportunity for the fledgling Thai Silk market to be export to USA.

Highly successful in his business exploits in developing the local market and opening doors for USA and Thai trade of silks, he spent the rest of his life in Thailand until his mysterious death at the age he feared most, hmm I think 61. Mysterious, because he went into the Malaysia jungle and disappeared, his body never recovered and to this day no one actually knows what happened.


His house is a superb collection of traditional Thai styles which are linked with passageways, but with simple but amazing decor. The collection  of local artefacts are even more remarkable in that most of it he got free because they were damaged, and who wants a damaged buddha effigy? Only an american in the silk spinning business it seemed. He would host evening parties in house, often with two or three different ones on the same evening.


Seeing those little silk worms being cultivated and harvested into the soft spun silk by a painstakingly slow, tedious and intricate process made me smile and think of those huge factories back in South Africa. Jim Thompson was probably fortunate to fall in love with an industry, have a passion for it and be great at what he did oh and I guess he made a lot of money……I am sure I have run a workshop or developed a model on that concept sometime, (before I retired).


Categories: Asia, Crazy Stories, Destinations, ThailandTags:

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