Jim Thompson House
The Jim Thompson House is the home of James H.W. Thompson, a self-made American entrepreneur who was the founder of the world renowned Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. Thompson’s achievements during his 25 year stay in the Kingdom of Thailand have won him much fame as the “Legendary American of Thailand”.
For his contribution to the development of the Thai Silk industry, Jim Thompson was awarded the Order of the White Elephant, a decoration bestowed upon foreigners for having rendered exceptional service to Thailand. Thompson’s success story in Thailand has become one of the most popular postwar legends of Asia.
In 1967, Jim Thompson went on holiday with friends to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. There he set out for a walk in the surrounding jungle but never returned. Thus began the Jim Thompson legend.
Since his disappearance in 1967, little has changed in the home that was the ‘talk of the town’ and the ‘city’s most celebrated social center’. Even today, the charming Thai style house continues to be a key stop for visitors to Bangkok.
The house consists of a complex of six traditional Thai-style houses, teak structures that were purchased from several owners and brought to the present location from various parts of Thailand. Construction of the Thai house was completed in 1959.
The Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew
The Grand Palace adjoins Wat Phra Kaew in a common compound, and is where you will end up after exiting Wat Phra Kaew. Despite the proximity of the two, there’s a distinct contrast in style between the very Thai Wat Phra Kaew and the more European inspired designs of the Grand Palace (the roof being the exception).
The Grand Palace is nowadays used only for occasional ceremonial purposes and is no longer the royal residence. The present King Bhumibol (Rama IX) lives in Chitralada Palace (also closed to tourists), which is located not too far away in Bangkok’s Dusit district.
Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the adjoining Grand Palace together form perhaps the greatest spectacle for the visitor to Bangkok. Despite the fact that the whole compound is so full of tourists you spend half the time trying to avoid getting in people’s photos, it’s still a pretty amazing place to visit.
It consists of over 100 brightly colored buildings, golden spires and glittering mosaics, and dates back to 1782, when Bangkok was founded. When you enter the compound, you first of all see Wat Phra Kaew and the nearby attractions, and then move on to the Grand Palace afterwards.
Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun was built in the days of Thailand’s ancient capital of Ayutthaya, and was originally known as Wat Makok (“Olive Temple”). In the ensuring era when Thonburi was capital, King Taksin changed the name to Wat Chaeng. The temple briefly hosted the revered Emerald Buddha after it was recaptured from Laos, but it was moved to Wat Phra Kaew in 1784.
King Rama II enlarged the central prang and changed the temple’s name to Wat Arunratchatharam. The work was finished by King Rama III, and King Rama IV gave the temple its current full name of Wat Arunratchawararam.
Despite its name (from Aruna, the Hindu god of the dawn), the best views of Wat Arun come at sunset – there are several restaurants and coffee shops across the river that make fine viewpoints. The outstanding feature of Wat Arun is its central prang (a prang is a Khmer-style pagoda), which is about 80 meters tall and symbolizes the legendary Mount Meru, center of the universe. It is possible to climb the prang, using some very steep exterior steps, to two terraces providing fine views.
The corners are surrounded by four smaller satellite prangs, which are dedicated to the wind god Phra Phai. The prangs are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain which were used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.Around the base of the prang are various sculptures of ancient Chinese soldiers and animals. Over the second terrace are four statues of the Hindu god Indra riding on Erawan. At the riverside are six pavilions (sala) in Chinese style, made of green granite and contain landing bridges.Next to the prangs is the Ordination Hall with the Niramitr Buddha image said to have been designed by King Rama II. The front entrance of the Ordination Hall has a roof with a central spire, decorated in coloured ceramic and stuccowork sheated in colored china.
There are two temple guardian figures in front. Characters from the Hindu epic Ramayana, the white figure is named Sahassateja and the green one is known as Tasakanth.