The Reclining Buddha was built during the mid-19th-century and is brick covered with layers of plaster and gold. At 15 meters high and 43 meters long, the Reclining Buddha is one of the largest single Buddha images. The Reclining Buddha is as large as the Emerald Buddha is small and is quite an impressive sight.
The flower arrangement is made of water lotus flowers.
The Jim Thompson House is on every "what to see in Bangkok" list so I thought we should give it a go. Jim Thompson was a self-made American entrepreneur and the founder of the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. He first came to Asia as part of a military force that planned to liberate Thailand during World War II. He was assigned to Bangkok as a military intelligence officer attached to the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services - the predecessor organization of the CIA). After his retirement from the military, Thompson decided to return to Thailand and live there permanently. At the time, the craft of hand-weaving silk in Thailand was in a state of decline and Thompson devoted himself to reviving the craft and creating demand for fine quality hand-woven Thai silk products. He was a talented designer and textile colorist and made significant contributions to the revival of the industry and its subsequent growth during the 1950's and 1960's. He also worked to develop an international recognition and market for Thai silk products. In 2010, almost $23 Million of Thai silk was exported from Thailand, primarily to the U.S. (the largest market for Thai silk) and the U.K.
Jim, Jan and I had a nice lunch in the restaurant that is on-site and waited in the courtyard for our tour of the house and gardens to begin.
In the courtyard, this man was demonstrating how silk is spun.
Silk weaving is practiced in every region in Thailand but the Khorat Plateau, in the northeast region of Thailand, is the center of the silk industry in the country. Since I am not an expert on the spinning of Thai silk, I will rely on wikipedia for the following information The photos are by Jan though. The weaver had some baskets on display that contained the silk worms/silk at different stages during the growth/weaving process.
During the re-assembly/construction of his house and in order to maintain its authenticity, Thompson included characteristics of Thai architecture and followed practices of Thai construction. For example, to avoid flooding during the rainy season (especially important because the house was on the banks of a canal), the house was elevated a full story above the ground. The roof tiles were fired in the former capital of Thailand, Ayudhya and were done in a traditional Thai design. The red paint on the exterior walls is a preservative found on old Thai buildings. The chandeliers date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and were obtained from palaces in Bangkok. For practical reasons, the chandeliers have been modified for electricity. Construction of the home began in 1958 and Thompson moved into the home in the early part of 1959. His property was like an oasis in the middle of downtown Bangkok.
Looking out from the living room - across the canal - to the village where his weavers lived and worked. Living on and having the silk weaving done in close proximity to the canal provided Thompson with an easy means to transport his silk products in, out and around Bangkok.
A spirit house on the corner of the property.
And now, the great mystery of what happened to Jim Thompson...
Thompson disappeared on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967 while on a hike in the Cameron Highlands in northern Malaysia. Thompson was in the area visiting friends and went out for an afternoon walk near the jungle, never to be seen or heard from again. There is great speculation over the reason for his disappearance...he was kidnapped by the Vietnamese for his involvement in spying activities (the Communist conspiracy), he was hit by a truck and buried in an unmarked grave or he was eaten by a tiger in the nearby jungle. Despite a massive search of the highlands and the jungle, Thompson vanished without a trace and not a single clue has ever turned up as to what really might have happened to him. His disappearance is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in southeast Asia.
I can't write about his house, his art and his legacy to the Thai silk trade without posting a photograph of the man himself...
And, this is where we ended our day of playing tourist.
We were driven back to Nichada and spent the evening relaxing at home and getting ready for Jim and Jan's last day in Bangkok. I planned a very interesting activity for their last day but it required that we leave to go downtown at 6:15 am the next morning so an early night was essential!
Have a great Thursday!