Museums in Bangkok

Suan Pakkad Palace Museum

In 1952 H.R.H. Prince Paribatra Sukhumbandhu, son of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn, Rama V and Her Majesty Queen Sukhumala Marasri converted their private home and antique collection to a Museum.  Really the prince wanted to be a musician, so the more modern portion of the museum includes musical instruments, and you can buy the scores or CDs of the music he composed

The museum consists of  eight traditional Thai houses, surrounded with a well tended tropical garden with pools and fountains.  Each of the buildings is filled with archaeological treasures, arts, and antiques, many belonging to the Prince and Princess.  A modern building was added  in 1969 as the entrance, office, and to exhibit prehistorical artifacts.  Unfortunately there were NO PHOTOS ALLOWED of the exhibits – just a few pictures of the outside.

Suan Pakkad Palace house
Like many houses in Bangkok, the primary living area is on the second floor. They are working to control the frequent floods.

Gold on Lacquer
I don’t know how we managed to get this photo of gold on lacquer

Moving On

Like so many places we have been in Southeast Asia, we are shocked at the state of the communications wiring

Phone wires
Yes I am tall, but I don’t normally have to duck under the phone wires.
phone wires
The phone poles, not far above the street (previous picture) are just as bad.

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson was an American Architect, born in Delaware in 1906.  He served in the US Army in Europe in World War II, then was sent to Asia.  The war ended before he saw action, but he was sent to Thailand as a military officer, and fell in love with the country.  After leaving the service he relocated to Bangkok.

His home consisted of 6 historical Thai houses, living quarters on the upper floor, some disassembled and moved from long distances.  Following local traditions, astrologers determined that a spring day in 1959 was auspicious, and he moved in.  His collection of antique art was so noteworthy that he often opened his house to the public with the proceeds going to Thai charities.

Jim Thompson House
Once again, no photos from inside, but looking from the patio we could see a tour group going through the house
Jim Thompson House
One of the other rooms we could see from the patio, thus could photograph.

On March 26, 1967 Jim Thompson disappeared on a visit to the Malaysian highlands, without leaving a clue.  In 1976 the court appointed administrator established a foundation to support his house and work.

One of Thompson’s major contributions to Thailand was the development and promotion of the silk industry, moving it from a cottage industry to a major international status.

How do you unwind the half mile or so of thin silk from a cocoon (that took the silk worm 3 days to spin)?   They had a live demonstration.

Silk cocoons
Start with 100 or more cocoons in a pot of water, and put it on a fire – here some twigs fanned by the worker.  As the water heats, stir with the forked stick waiting near the pot.
silk boiling
As the water starts to boil, the silk starts to unwind and catches on the stirring stick.
Unwinding silk
The individual silk strands are too fine to use so as you can pull a group of 5-10 strands, bring it up through the hole in the board above the pot.
silk thread
The 5-10 ply silk thread goes round the wheel to allow the operator to pull the string into the basket behind him, but keep the thread coming straight up from the pot. If a cocoon comes up before it is unwound, it is simply knocked back in the pot. If the thread becomes too thin, another piece is added. We didn’t wait to time the total process but I bet it was about a half hour to unwind all 100+ cocoons into 5-10 ply thread in the basket.

Chinatown

We walked through Bangkok’s Chinatown.  The part we saw was much more a wholesale market of imports than a tourist destination, but still interesting.  It was soon after the Chinese new year, so lots of lanterns.

Chinatown school
We passed this elementary school – classes in process
The market was more commercial than retail, but Jenny still played tourist

The Kingdom

No question that Thailand is a kingdom.  It is illegal to criticize or make jokes of the royal family.  In many places he is honored, such as this 3 story tall homage  at one of the malls.

Thai King
This picture was taken from the train. To put the size in perspective, see the entrance doors to the mass just to the left of the picture.

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Author: Charlie Plesums

Retired from a teaching and consulting career in computer science, to build custom furniture and travel

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