A Little Jazz In The Jim Thompson Garden


Terri has always been an avid gardener, from potted flowers and herbs in our early apartments, to carefully designed landscapes around our many houses. Generally, my contribution has been as hole-digger, mulch toter, plant waterer, and cocktail wrangler when the job is finished.

So each of us has a real appreciation for pleasant, attractive gardens. And on our most recent trip to Bangkok, we revisited one of our favorites – The Jim Thompson Garden. So take a stroll with me through this wonderful garden.

Jim Thompson, no slouch in the talent department, was an American businessman whose impressive resume includes stints as architect, army officer, spy, silk merchant, and collector of Asian antiques. After leaving the army, he moved to Bangkok and devoted himself to revitalizing the Thai silk industry.

Never one for mediocrity, when Thompson decided to build a house, he cobbled together a masterpiece using parts of six traditional Thai houses from all over the country. And to complete his refuge, he designed his tropical garden.




His house and garden, which are now a museum, are at the end of a narrow, nondescript lane surrounded by noisy, congested Bangkok. The estate is an island of peace and quiet in a sea of pandemonium. The garden isn’t grand, but its appeal lies in its tropical lushness and serenity. And it’s protected by a charming Thai Spirit House – a replica of the big house.

Spirit House sq

Thai Spirit House

Bangkok, like many Southeast Asian capitals, is a vibrant city. But it has an in-your-face quality that creates the need for a respite. And this is what the Jim Thompson Garden is all about.

Happy Trails,

*Music: Cast Your Fate to the Wind by Vince Guaraldi (of Charlie Brown fame), and performed by David Benoit


Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

18 thoughts

  1. Love this post! When we were in Singapore, I looked for a store selling Jim Thompson products. Bought some linens and a tiny zippered bag that stays in my purse. Had no idea that I would later run into a blog on his garden. The world is getting smaller! http://ohtheplaceswesee.com

    1. Thanks Rusha. Jim Thompson was a very talented person, and his house, museum and textiles carry on his legacy. It’s also amazing what an oasis the house and garden are in the middle of noisy Bangkok. ~James

    1. With a few creative modifications and upgrades a standard birdhouse might do the job Jo. I’m not sure how the spirits will react, but it may be worth a shot. ~James

  2. Definitely on our list when we get to Bangkok. James, your first paragraph sounds exactly like my husband Terry and me. Great post! 🙂

    1. Thanks Jennifer. I love all of Vince Guaraldi’s stuff. Both David Benoit and George Winston did lots of covers of Guaraldi’s tunes. And actually, I think I like some of the covers better than the originals. But Vince is a genius, and he was way ahead of his time. ~James

  3. Jim’s is such a beautiful oasis in the heart of Bangkok. A little romance is added with the strange nature of his disappearance. Lovely spot!

    1. Thanks Chris. Oasis is exactly the right word for the JT house. I’ve read a bit about his disappearance, and I wonder if he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Given his history as spy etc, it’s easy to fabricate conspiracies, but there were (and are today) lots of criminals wandering around that part of the world.~James

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