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Museums

Museums, Thailand, Travel

Mystery and Silk: Jim Thompson House

November 9, 2015

Jim Thompson House

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Stepping out of the air-conditioned van into the humidity of Bangkok, I realized this experience would be different from the rest of my time in there. The noise of cars and motorbikes had disappeared to be replaced by the sounds of boats in the canal nearby. Walking down a gravel path past the gift shop and restaurant, the giant plants of the garden almost obscured the house from view. Having arrived before opening, I took the time to walk around the garden to explore. Plants seemed to grow to extreme sizes due to the humidity and rain. Giant coy fish also appear to have developed unencumbered in their pond.

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson House

Knowing little about the man who’s house I was about to explore, I was glad when the tour started for the Jim Thompson House. But this is also where the mystery begins. Jim Thompson revived the silk trade in Thailand in the late 1940s after World War II ended. During the war, he had served in the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. After the war had ended, he was assigned to set up the OSS office in Bangkok. In 1946, he was discharged from the army, and he returned to Bangkok to work on the Oriental Hotel, but after some disagreements with other shareholders, he turned his attention to Thai silk.

Jim Thompson started his own company to export Thai silk and had great success. He even provided the Thai silk for the movie production of “The King and I.” Jim Thompson was also an architect and designed and built the house. He noticed many of the old style Thai houses were still in excellent condition and decided to create his own in the Thai style along with some western touches, such as an internal staircase.

Jim Thompson House

After much success and opening a physical store on March 21, 1967, Mr. Thompson took a holiday to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Five days later Mr. Thompson disappeared and has never been seen again. Many theories abound as to what happened to Jim Thompson. Was he kidnapped? No ransom has ever been asked for. Was he killed? No body has never been found. Was he a double agent about to be exposed and he deliberately disappeared? There was a supposed sighting of him in Tahiti a few months after the disappearance, but nothing sense. Did he get lost or die of starvation or was attacked by an animal? This is highly unlikely as he was trained in jungle survival as a part of his OSS training. Was he still a spy and he was captured? No government has ever claimed to be his abductors or asked for a prisoner trade for him. Adding to this mystery is that his sister was murdered six months later in her home in the United States.

Jim Thompson House

Eventually, people stopped looking for Jim Thompson, and his house became a museum. His company still runs and produces the bright Thai silk that he made famous. The house is basically untouched from when he left for his trip to Malaysia. While his disappearance was only briefly mentioned on the tour, it hung in the air while the tour continued around the house. You could almost sense that his possessions were awaiting him to walk through and sit down on the silk divan to take his regular nap.

How to Visit the Jim Thompson House: The Jim Thompson House is conveniently located less than a five-minute walk from the BTS Skytrain National Stadium stop. The hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, however when we were there, I think they opened at 9:30. The entrance fee is 150 Baht for adults and 100 Baht for students under the age of 22. The guided tour is mandatory, and your shoes must be removed to tour the house. Photography is not allowed inside the house.

Airports, Hotel/Accommodation, Museums, Travel

My Favorite Things About Travel

November 2, 2015

My Favorite Things About Travel

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There is so much about travel that I love. Emma, Kelly, Rebecca host a travel link-up topic every month and this month it is about your favorite things and I have decided to tell you all about my favorite travel things. Of course, I don’t always think about most of these things when I travel, but some I do and some are lying under the surface of my thoughts. Here are my ten favorite things about travel.

  1. My Passport Holder – I was given this magnetic envelope as a going away present from my last job in New York City before I moved to the Caribbean. While I think it is actually a photo holder, it perfect fits my passport, my international driver’s license, and I usually put my boarding pass under the flap as it is magnetic and I am guaranteed not to lose it! My favorite thing about it is the color and the starfish closure.
  2. Going to the Airport – This is when the trip starts to feel real to me, and I love going to the airport. The potential lines at check-in and security don’t bother me. Arriving at the airport brings a tingle of excitement to me, and I can’t wait to get my boarding pass. I only wish you didn’t have to arrive so early, as all I want to do is get on the plane and go!My Favorite Things About Travel
  3. Airport Lounges – Ever since getting status with Qatar Airways, I have grown to love airport lounges. I know this sounds like I am a travel snob, sorry. But I love being able to get away from the noise of the airport. It helps to start your journey off on the right foot, especially if you are going on a long haul flight.
  4. Movies on planes – I have never been to the movies in the over two years I have lived in Qatar for reasons I won’t go into here. So when I get on a plane, I am ready to binge watch as many movies as I can before we get to the next airport. Of course, I do sleep on planes too, but this doesn’t always go as planned, so I watch movies I have seen some great movies that I might not have considered if I had to pay for them. I do have to be careful to stifle the laughs and get a bit embarrassed if I start tearing up at a movie.IMG_0008_2
  5. Hotel beds – What is it about hotels beds?! Almost always, they are more luxurious than your own bed and may be more comfortable depending on your preference. It could also be that every day someone comes in and makes the bed, which I never do at home!
  6. Taking photos – The travel bug has bitten down on me and hasn’t let go, but so has the travel photography bug. I love trying to get photos from a different angle. If you ever see me on a trip, I may stand in the same place for 10 minutes trying to get just the right settings for a photo. However, you probably won’t see me with my camera around my neck, as I have a huge fear of my camera getting damaged or stolen. Not because I couldn’t get another camera, but all my photos would be gone!
  7. People watching – There is nothing better than sitting in an outdoor cafe and watching people walk by. I sometimes try to guess where they are from. I love seeing them interact with their travel buddies, and usually I can tell whether they are family or friends. I also love to listen to people’s conversations about the food they are eating or the service, if they are speaking English of course. It is always interesting to hear what they are saying and what they do and don’t like.
  8. Getting lost – I am not talking lost lost, but not following directions and just walking and seeing where it leads. This is one of the major reasons I love traveling by myself, as I do not have to have a set agenda. This became very obvious to me when I was in Venice solo. I walk till I get tired and then do a little of #7 or #6 and meander back to where I came from.Capturing Venice photos
  9. Museums – I never tire of museums! My biggest disappointed in Paris was that I couldn’t make it to all the museums. There were just too many to see! Seeing another country’s culture through a museum is one of my favorite things. Usually, you get to learn about their past and then go outside and see the present, possibly the future.
  10. Beaches – This one doesn’t happen as often as it should! I love beaches, and I love vacations that involve them. I haven’t taken tons of them recently, but I am going to try to do so in the future. My trip to Goa was based solely on the fact that there was a beach involved!

I hope you have enjoyed my little indulgence in thinking about my favorite things about travel. What are some of your favorite things about travel? Tell us in the comments!

Be sure to check out the host’s blogs for their favorite things, Kelly, EmmaRebecca, or Frankie. Also, sorry for the strange fonts, I couldn’t fix it.

Art, Europe, Italy, Museums, Travel

Museo Fortuny in Venice

September 14, 2015

Museo Fortuny

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If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a museum nut! I will go to every museum possible on a trip. Now, I am not a spend hours in them kind of person. I am a big believer in art fatigue and information overload. If I spend too long in a museum, I begin not to appreciate what I see. That being said, I still love them. Museo Fortuny in Venice was no exception. So in an effort to see one more museum, I took off to Museo Fortuny the morning of my flight back to Qatar. I knew I had just enough time to get to the museum when it opened and spend an hour there before I needed to return to my hotel to collect my luggage and haul myself to the airport.

Once again, I hadn’t done tons of research on this museum. I had just read about it in the guidebook and saw a banner for it on one of my strolls through the narrow streets of Venice. I did not know that Museo Fortuny was only open when they have a temporary exhibit installed, which the guidebook did not mention. It was a good thing that the museum was running the exhibit “Proportio” to run concurrently with the Venice Biennale. The exhibit was designed to explore the sense of proportion in art.  The pieces ranged from small building size to miniature models. Other pieces felt like they were giving you a sense of the rooms proportions. The exhibition was amazing, and every floor brought a new sense of proportion and feeling to the rooms that they inhabited. My favorite was the all white room that had very minimal art in it. That being said, I must have been too mesmerized by this floor as I only took two photos in this room. One photo is the one below of that is of the windows with the white curtains. The room with the mirrors and the writing on the walls is the “Selfie Studio” and you can see me taking the photo in the mirror.

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

 

Museo Fortuny

I really wish the museum was open during non-temporary exhibit times with it’s own collection. The description on the website and the pictures I have seen online look amazing. Apparently, Fortuny had a great collection of fashion, textiles, photos and paintings. I particularly love historic fashions and would have enjoyed seeing those. The website does not explain why the permanent collection is never exhibited though. I will have to watch and see if they ever plan to do so.

The museum also had some amazing views from the windows and the ground floor garden.

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

 

Museo Fortuny

 

So if you are planning a visit to Venice before the end of November, then run to the Museo Fortuny so you don’t miss the current exhibition. Then make your way of over to the Venice Biennale. You can see some of my favorite pieces from that exhibition in this post.

Have you been to the Museo Fortuny? What was showing when you went?

 

Art, Europe, France, Museums, Paris

My Must See and Do in Paris

June 23, 2015

Paris Must See and Do

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There is so much to see and do in Paris. Many people have already asked me what I recommend, so here are the things I recommend you see and do! Not all of these things are tourist attractions either!

1. Musee de l’Orangerie – This was the highlight of Paris for me! I love Claude Monet’s impressionist paintings, and this is where his full-size Water Lilies are on exhibition. They take up two rooms and are magnificent. There is also a great impressionist painting collection on the lower level containing many works by Cezanne and Renoir. It was very busy when I went, and I asked when it wasn’t busy, and the guide said around 4 pm as they stop admitting people at 5:15. It is located inside the Tuileries Gardens

Paris Must See and Do

2. La Crypte Archeologique du parvis Notre Dame – This is the remains of ancient Paris or Lutetia, which was a Roman town. It was fascinating to hear how Paris developed and actually to see medieval remains of a town. It is located in front of Notre Dame down some unassuming stairs. I saw it when we visited Notre Dame but didn’t get to explore it then. I am so glad I went back!

3. Eat Pain Au Chocolat – This should be self-explanatory, but if not then let me tell you it is heaven. I don’t even like chocolate that much, but there is something about fluffy pastry and chocolate together. Make sure you get it fresh and have a café with it! You won’t be disappointed.

Paris Must See and Do4. Look for hidden gardens – I kept running across fenced in park areas that had amazing gardens in them. Most of Paris is much like any other big city, grey and dirty. These gardens allow you to sneak away from the crowds and enjoy some great foliage. Everyone I found was open to the public and many had playgrounds and fountains.

Paris Must See and Do

5.Musee d’Orsay – Many people know about this great museum that is housed in an old train station. I went because I knew this is where much of Monet’s paintings are also held. They are all on the top floor. I also discovered some other artists in this museum that I will now be on the lookout for. Seeing the old train station also makes this a must see. Up on the top floor, you can see the two clocks that faced out and you can go out on the roof. The roof gives you views of the Louvre and the Seine.

6. Musee du quai Branly – I didn’t know about this museum until a tour guide told me about it. It houses collections from indigenous populations from all over the world. There are lots of native art and sculpture. The museum is also highly geared towards children and has lots of interactive attractions. Unfortunately, the Americas section was being renovated and was closed when I was there. The sign said opening June 2015, so hopefully, it will be done soon.

7. People watch – Paris is a great place to people watch! Sit at an outdoor café and order a café and a croissant and sit for a while and watch everyone go by. It will also give you a chance to rest your feet. Plus it is a very Parisienne thing to do!

Here is a trip plan that TripHobo designed for my trip to Paris! You can plan your own Paris schedule by using TripHobo, just click on create a Plan new Trip.


What do you recommend to do in Paris?