I entered the room filled with Thai teachers waiting for a workshop on creative teaching strategies. Everyone stood and greeted me with the traditional wai. The national Thai greeting with hands in a prayer position and a slight bow set the tone for a productive session with enthusiastic and respectful teachers.
Adding drama for an art infused lesson
After teaching students or training teachers, short excursions are planned during the week and longer ones on the weekends.
The National Museum was on the agenda for a short outing. We hailed down a Tuk Tuk driver for the museum visit. He assured us he understood. After numerous stops, we knew we were on a wild goose chase.
Finally, he decided to drop us off at Jim Thompson’s house museum. At least he got the museum part right! We didn’t argue and decided to explore the grounds. What a delightful mistake! Jim Thompson, an American architect who was stationed in Thailand during WWII, created an international business exporting Thai silk. While wondering through a local market in Bangkok, Jim spotted Thai silk and traced its origin to a Muslim community where the weavers were making silk by hand.
His discovery saved a dying art.
Designers all over the world were attracted to the yellow Thai cocoons that produced the knotty thread that made Thai silk so desirable.
In 1967 his industry was worth 1.5 million and growing. The same year while hiking in Malaysia he mysteriously disappeared and was never seen again. Man-eating tiger? Jealous rivals??
Even today his shops draw crowds from all over the world to purchase his high quality silk.
Extracting silk from the yellow cocoons
He located his house across a canal where this Muslim community still weaves silk using the tried and true loom!
My dream home: A Jim Thompson Teak House!
He designed his house by transporting six teak homes from all over Thailand to create a structure open to nature (some rooms are actually an extension to the garden).
We finally found a taxi driver who knew the most visited museum in Bangkok:
The National Museum:
As a history teacher, the museum was a great place to spend a hot afternoon, learning about ancient Thailand. I was fascinated by the powerful images of the Thai/ Burmese soldiers fighting on the backs of elephants. We also saw a visual history depicting life in the ancient capital, Ayutthaya ( trip planned for next weekend) and the development of the new capital, Bangkok, ruled by the Rama Kings (Rama I-IX). Rama IX is the monarch today, eliciting great respect from the people.
Until next time in Ayutthaya!