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Jim Thompson House, Bangkok

6 Soi Kasemsan 2, th. Rama I Road
Thailand 10330
Tel: 66 2 216 7368's insider take:

James H.W. Thompson was perhaps the most legendary expat in all of Thailand (rumor has it that letters addressed simply 'Jim Thompson, Bangkok' reached him in a city of over three million). An American adventurer and entrepreneur who came to Bangkok during World War II as a U.S. spy, Thompson later returned to settle down and single-handedly reinvent the Thai silk industry. He not only made the country's silk famous throughout the world, he also collected an amazing array of Asian artifacts including traditional Thai paintings, sculpture, and porcelain dating back as far as 6th century A.D., which he used to decorate the buildings and gardens of this gorgeous, idealized (and subtly Westernized) version of a traditional Thai home on a back khlong. He held court like a latter-day maharaja until 1967, when he disappeared during a trip to the jungles of Malaysia. The main branch of his renowned silk shop still operates in Bangkok to this day.

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