The Father Of Thai Silk - What really happened to Jim Thompson
Posted 26 July 2007 - 09:36 AM
I would imagine many farang residents and the majority of Thais above a 'certain' age, will know something about the man who they consider to be, 'The father of thai silk.'
In fact to the Thais, he is a legendary figure. After World War 2, he single handedly rebuilt the silk industry, with the result that he was awarded ; 'The Order Of The White Elephant,' the highest award that can be given to a foreigner.
Today, his name is recognised worldwide for the production of the highest quality silk, with shops in Bangkok and worldwide locations.
In 1967, while on holiday in Malaysia, he vanished and was never seen again.
During late 1969, on the tail end of an overland trip to the the land of Oz from the UK, mate Ray and I were in KL and met a guy doing research on JT. This was the first time I had heard of his name.
Don invited us to travel with him to the 'vanishing point.' A couple days later we found ourselves conversing with Norbert and family, who were now resident in the ranch were JT had been staying. The ranch was halfway up a mountain but set set into a large flat area, located in the northern Cameron Highlands near Pabang.
Norbert had only been told the basic details. He took us to the end of the very large garden to the spot were JT went every evening and smoked his pipe. One evening he never returned. Only his pipe remained.
Over the years I've often wondered what happened. There are many theories. Did a runner/kidnapped/
and so on. I prefer the original explanation; a hit from a Chinese agent. During WW2 he made many enemies including Chinese spies. His real war experiences run like a major hollywood movie.
In 1940, he was an architect in New York. When the US entered into the war, he voluntered for the 'Office Of Strategic Service,' [OSS.] the forerunner of the CIA. He operated in enemy territory in Africa/Italy and France. His last mission was to Thailand. He arrived just as the Japs capitulated.
He then bacame the OSS stationchief in Bangkok until his discharge in late 1946.
He came back to Thailand and took over the original Oriental Hotel, bringing it back to glory.
Then he started on the regeneration of silk. The rest of the story is well known.
One unusual anomaly. After 22 years in Thailand, and being with locals every day,
he could not speak Thai!
Posted 26 July 2007 - 11:54 AM
.....took us to the end of the very large garden to the spot were JT went every evening and smoked his pipe. One evening he never returned. Only his pipe remained.
Over the years I've often wondered what happened. There are many theories...
I was driving a car using only the roads and not the paths and had problems to drive back to the office and the oil-mill, and not many years ago, even Malaysian children while hiking using a secure path got lost in the Malaysian jungle for several days.
In the dense Malaysian jungle, at that time, all around you was green...you could not see anything else but green, it was so dark, that you could sometimes not read a newspaper, you could not see the sun during day and it was terrible hot and humid. I understood soon, that orientation in the jungle is very difficult.
The jungle itself was not without danger, I remember crocodiles, snakes, cheetahs, wild aggressive monkeys, plenty of insects...
People in Malaysian jungle are like people climbing up mountains covered with snow...many got lost, many vanished. Jim Thomson is one of them, I do not believe that a crime happened.
In Malaysian jungle to walk away from a group and walk away from your house in evening is a high risk even today - not to talk about 40 years ago.
Posted 26 July 2007 - 11:59 AM
So 40 years ago, getting lost was probably more the rule than the exception.
Plus there were more wild animals at that time that could make the body disappear pretty fast.
Posted 26 July 2007 - 01:01 PM
Outside of the plantage there was no street for a car, only paths through the jungle - there was the river down for Kota Bahru, and there was the railway track to pick up the products.
Still, local people lost the way - difficult to believe, but true. You see nothing, but rubber trees, and after walking for a while, you see the same (?) rubber trees again. Or not the same rubber trees (?)
Outside the plantage, in the jungle, where is North, or West, or East....you do not know without a compass. You cannot see the sky.
Generator was shut down at 9 PM and it was totally dark... no chance to find your way out of the plantage to the river, railway or the housing and factory.
In Malaysia, in the jungle it was getting dark very very early - local workers in the plantage went back to the housing compound not later than 4 PM.
There were no troubles about wild animals however, local workers all had long knives and cutting tools with them, were not afraid of the jungle, quickly were cutting snakes in pieces for some healthy food in evening...
Posted 29 July 2007 - 01:08 PM
I can only say that this story says everything to me although I can imagine that un-experienced people can have their doubts about these dangers and the fears linked to it. I made the trip to Kuala Tahan over the Tembeling-river through Taman Nagara which took about 4 hours in 1978. I had the idea during the whole trip to be observed by natives in the jungle but was not able to see any living soul. Some karbauws (Bubalus bubalis) looked at us with their head just above the water-line and sometimes passing a float of rubber mats going downstream. To make it a bit more sinister one saw from time to time a stick with a skull of a Karbauw on it.
I remember when I was in (Dutch) New Guinea that Michael Rockefeller disappeared in 1961 and was declared dead in 1964 without even finding remains after a by his father launched big search-operation. Michael wanted to swim ashore after his canoe capsized in stead of waiting for help from the guides. Sea-crocodiles of over 20 feet long, sea-snakes, sharks, Paradise Fishes and the worldâ€™s most venomous fish in the world the Stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) are very common there. Up to to-day nobody knows what happened.
In 1962 crashes the Dutch Military Dakota X-11 and is by big coincidence discovered in 1969 in the Carstens Mountains. 8 Persons died.
Posted 03 August 2007 - 04:28 PM
and therefore, he virtually vanished - in other words, siezed to be his former Jim anymore.
although it is a bit unusual explanation, it might explain a lot !
however my friend added more: that the reason J.T. did so was - to become eligible to learn deepest secrets of Thai silk, which allegedly, only females are allowed to get access to.
if it is true - then, I admire this due: wow, such a dedication to his life's work!
Edited by Razin, 03 August 2007 - 04:29 PM.
Posted 03 August 2007 - 07:16 PM
Just a couple of comments on the thread above. Yohan, when you are talking about cheetahs in Malaysia, do you mean wild cats? I know that they are out there in the jungle (particularly in Borneo) but have never seen one myself.
Regarding Michael Rockefeller, the documentary film 'Ring of Fire' shows the film-makers (the Blair brothers) visiting the part of New Guinea Rockefeller had disappeared in the previous year. From their conversations with people, it's pretty clear that he was killed in retribution for the killing of a New Guinean man by (I think) the Australian authorities the previous year. There was also a strong suggestion that he may have been cannibalized. That part of the film ends with the rushed evacuation of the film-makers and crew amidst rising tension with the New Guineans. Rockefeller's photographs of New Guinea and his art collection are quite highly regarded - it's a shame that he met an untimely end.
Posted 03 August 2007 - 07:29 PM
what, who, how, why - I don't know.
Posted 03 August 2007 - 08:18 PM
It was maybe 1 m long, looking dangerous for me and made an impression to me to be very strong...I do not know, if it would attack humans however...
Maybe it was
It was NOT this one (nice report from Malaysia)
And this one is different for sure:
Edited by yohan, 03 August 2007 - 08:20 PM.
Posted 03 August 2007 - 09:20 PM
They have a fair number of these kinds of cats stuffed in glass cases in the Sarawak Museum in Kuching. They date back to the time of the second White Rajah, Charles Brooke (i.e. late 19th C).
Posted 04 August 2007 - 04:21 AM
and indeed very similar to this dead animal, the workers found in the plantage...
Most of these animals are gone now, I guess. When I was there in 1972 between Kota Bahru and Kuala Lipis, there was no useable street, only paths, and still a lot of jungle.
There was only the railway, it was so dark inside the cars during day, that you could not read a newspaper, like moving forward into a big green tunnel.
And there was the river with motorboats. There was no highway in Malaysia from West Coast to East Coast (which means going into Thailand from Alor Star and entering again Malaysia in Sungai Kolok) -
Malaysia East Coast was a very remote area at that time, and little population, compared to Thailand and the Malaysian West Coast. Inside of Kelantan there was nothing but jungle, so animals still could survive. But 35 years ago, quite a long time...now wide areas are cut down for huge plantages and streets are cutting down the large area in smaller segments.
I cannot say, that the forests are destroyed, and there are still many waterfalls inside of Malaysia, but it is not like before...so I think, most of these animals are a part of the past.
Nowadays, in Kelantan, you cannot be lost anymore while driving a car, just look at the traffic signs.
Use your mobile phone to call for help if your car has a breakdown.
Posted 04 August 2007 - 06:35 AM
How can a Papua in previous Dutch New Guinea be killed by the Australian authorities?? At that time the Dutch army struggled with the "peloppers" (the Indonesian infiltrants) and Australia had nothing to do there.
Posted 04 August 2007 - 06:45 AM
Posted 04 August 2007 - 07:17 AM
Anyway, the story of cannibalism can be true, I read that also somewhere and it seemed that the family got several skulls to investigate in America and.......there the story ended! (?)
It appeared that even still in the seventies the head-hunters where still active because at that time also a complete Dutch family where victim of these practices.
Posted 19 September 2007 - 06:59 AM
Posted 14 November 2011 - 05:57 AM
Yeah it's sure nice. I had a nice cup of Earl Grey in the cafe there sometime in 2007. I also just spotted this interesting article...
What Made the Spooks Disappear
Although Thompson once had been extremely valuable to U.S. intelligence, the agency finally put out a “burn notice” on him, warning all employees to stay away from him—one of the most extreme warnings the CIA can issue. The FBI investigated him for “un-American activities,” quizzing everyone who had ever known him, and Langley launched an inquiry of its own. Thompson told friends his phone lines were constantly tapped and strange men began following his car through the streets of Bangkok. Close friends in Thailand suddenly stopped speaking to him, and Thai government agencies began confiscating antiquities from his personal collection. The strain showed: Thompson routinely checked into the city’s hospitals with bouts of flu, dysentery, pneumonia, gallstones, and what he called “amoebas” infesting his system.
His end was as spooky as his life...
Posted 14 November 2011 - 01:47 PM
There are always some new articles around the mystery of Jim Thompson.
However investigations of that kind are costly and it seems nobody wants to pay for that.
The only problem I have with this article is that it was published on the 1st of April in Ipoh, Malaysia. True or not? A hoax or not? I don't know.
According to Capt. Rivers that when he was in Cameron Highlands about ten years ago, all the items from the old hospital in Tanah Rata were transferred to a new hospital and one of the items was a box containing the bones brought by Orang Asli who had found them in the jungle.
Capt. Rivers ended his talk by saying that though this is a solution to the mystery, it is a costly exercise and doubts if anyone is willing to do it.
This is also such a Jim Thompson 'Research' website, I do not believe all what is there, but anyway nice to read about, the author wrote even a book about his theories.
Edited by yohan, 14 November 2011 - 01:33 PM.
Posted 22 November 2011 - 09:46 AM
Fact is, although I'm getting on a bit now, and cant walk so good. I am still alive, although not kicking.
I stood at the end of that garden, smoking my pipe and thought; "Gee I fancy a change". So I disappeared. I became slpj.
It's true, I'm a woman now. I live in New york. I hope you'll forgive me for not telling you exactly where,
Lord Lucan is indeed a friend of mine, but I haven't been in a bar with him for some time, And Elvis really IS dead.
I did finally learn the deepest secrets of Thai Silk. But I will never reveal them.
Edited by slpj, 22 November 2011 - 09:47 AM.
Posted 19 January 2012 - 04:02 AM
From this, emerges a portrait of Thompson as a U.S Army officer in the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA, who stood ardently behind America's immediate post-World War II policy of championing democracy and ridding the world of colonialism. He believed Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist who should be supported, and almost worshipped Pridi Banomyong, Thailand's pro-democracy statesman...
... America's secret entry into the war in Laos in the early 1960s finally destroyed his vision of "an America that used its power to build democracy in the region, that could distinguish between local grievances and global communism, and that inspired Asians as a liberator, not as a new colonizer."...
Posted 02 February 2012 - 05:35 AM
A recent review states that this book is 'deeper and darker' than previous publications.
His full and detailed life story is portrayed via interviews / private letters and surviving members of his group, right up to the vanishing point.
The author discounts the possibility of an accident or suicide. Entertains the possibility of a hit by business or political enemies, and finally puts the finger on his own side, the CIA!
I'll certainly take a gander at this book.
The Ideal Man............The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War.
Available at Kinokuniya and Asia Books.
Posted 12 July 2012 - 03:58 AM
Posted 12 July 2012 - 01:23 PM
Not really because of him being a former member of the CIA.
But more because he probably ruffled a few feathers in Thailand.
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