The Story behind Thailand’s most
Famous Foreigner

Jim Thompson – An Unsolved Mystery

Jim Thompson an American businessman, was Thailand’s most famous foreigner. He was the founder of the modern Thai silk industry, which up until his arrival in Bangkok in 1947, had almost disappeared. Jim himself disappeared some twenty years later. He simply vanished one fateful Easter Sunday in March 1967.

Jim had taken a vacation with friends and the owner of the Moonlight Cottage, a holiday hideaway in the jungle-clad Cameron Highlands of Central Malaysia. After having a lunchtime picnic with his friends, Jim went for a walk and did not return. To this very day as you read this article, Jim has not been seen ever since. For that matter, Jim has not surfaced anywhere.

I had seen the last photo taken of him at that picnic and from the look on his face, something seemed to be troubling him. We may never know! After many years of investigations into Jim’s disappearance, no clues as to what might have happened to him have ever surfaced and his body was never found.

Jim was born on 21st March 1906 and had just celebrated his 61st birthday a few days before he mysteriously vanished without a trace. Soon after lunch, Jim decided for some unknown reason to go for a stroll. The strange thing was, he’d left his cigarettes behind.

Jim was a heavy smoker and would never go anywhere without his cigarettes. Tablets to ease his gall stone problem remained in his room, indicating he would not be gone for long.

Jim Thompson House in Bangkok

Jim Thompson’s Mysterious Disappearance

Was he murdered! And if so, where has his body been hidden. Was he kidnapped! And if so, why hadn’t anyone called to demand any sort of ransom. He was, after all, a wealthy man.

Was he perhaps eaten by a tiger! And if so, why couldn’t the police or investigation teams find any traces of clothing or tiny bone fragments. Tigers have been known to inhabit remote regions of the Cameron Highlands but surely not close to human habitat. Besides tigers wouldn’t have eaten his shoes.

One possibility could be that Jim fell victim to an animal trap while out walking. One must not forget that Jim did leave his cigarettes at the cottage so surely he wouldn’t have wandered off too far. In any case, why would local hunters want to lay traps close to the cottage? They were known to hunt wild animals in the jungle.

If Jim had somehow become victim to an animal trap, would the hunters want to keep it a secret! Every bit of investigation had turned into a dead end.

Today Jim’s disappearance is still a mystery and very much unsolved. Jim simply vanished from the face of the earth. Uh-huh! Perhaps he stumbled upon a UFO and was abducted by an alien. It’s just a thought, but one, I find it hard to believe. Can you shed any light on the subject?

Entrance to the Jim Thompson Museum

My Theory on the Jim Thompson Disappearance

I do however have my own theory regarding Jim’s disappearance and untimely death. Would you love to hear what my thoughts are then? I bet you do. Well, here they are. First and foremost, I strongly believe that certain aspects of the ongoing investigation were grossly overlooked and perhaps for good reason too.

I believe Jim was in fact initially kidnapped. No! Not for money. His abductors had enough of that of their own and besides, the organisations for whom these abductors are bound, have access to huge amounts of funding to this very day.

I ruled out ransom as the motive. Shortly after the kidnapping, Jim was murdered. No mistake about this one. His abductors were instructed to silence Jim for good and also authorised not to leave any possible clues as to his whereabouts either.

Herein lies the real danger in pursuing further investigation myself. After reading various reviews and a couple of books concerning Jim’s tour of duty in Bangkok, I began to think out of the box. Nobody can simply vanish without a trace. Or can they!

There are a few concerns that spring to mind. Not only did Jim put Thailand back on the map with respect to the silk industry, but he truly loved the country and its people. He also had a genuine concern for helping out wherever he could and his workers were happy. Isn’t it strange that in the twenty years Jim lived in Thailand he still wasn’t able to grasp the Thai Language, despite having plenty of opportunities?

If curiosity was a temptation and you were to dig deeper into Jim’s history, there is a good possibility you could come across significant information linking this famous fellow to an American Intelligence Agency called OSS. Jim you see, was once a former U.S. military intelligence officer who worked for the agency before leaving the U.S. after the war to settle in Thailand indefinitely.

OSS or the Office of Strategic Services was a U. S. Intelligence Agency formed during World War II. It was a precursor of the CIA or Central Intelligence Agency. This particular wartime agency was formed specifically to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for the United States military wing.

Outside the Jim Thompson House

Share your Views

What I don’t believe is that Jim was eaten by tigers or that he had possibly fallen victim to tiger hunters, deer hunters, cannibal hunters or any equally crazy assorted lunatics. As for being abducted by aliens – well, that’s even more absurd. 

I do believe that Jim’s body is still buried somewhere in Malaysia. I would love to do my own research into Jim’s disappearance but fear that I too may disappear.

If you have any valid questions you would like to share with me regarding the mysterious disappearance of Jim Thompson, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Just go to the bottom of the page and leave your message. I shall respond to all your requests. I would also accept any criticism or disagreements you may have.

On the other hand, if you feel that you have the slightest bit of credible evidence that could possibly shed some new life to this tragic event, I would be more than happy to hear from you. It has always been a passion of mine to try and solve these somewhat arcane and enigmatic cases. I have achieved this once.

Inside the Jim Thompson House

Stacked full of History

Today you can go and visit the Jim Thompson House in central Bangkok which has become a museum and open to the public daily. This museum is the second most visited tourist site in Bangkok after the Royal Palace. Highly recommended.

Jim started construction on his house in the mid-fifties and completed it in 1959. It’s built from six different traditional teak houses found around the central parts of the country. All the walls in the house were actually reassembled from the inside out or the other way round depending how you view it.

The house is stacked full of history and a superb treasure trove of art, antiques and artifacts from all over Thailand and Southeast Asia. Jim was an avid collector of traditional Thai art as well as other rare and unique collectables. He was known to travel widely throughout Asia to find the right stuff. His legendary knowledge of art grew in similar proportions to his epic life.

There are ongoing guided tours you can join should you want to know more about the life and times of this legendary foreigner from afar. After the tour, you can spend a penny at the gift shop where you will find many wonderful excellent-quality gifts. You can also have something to drink and eat at the new bar and restaurant overlooking a large pond.

The tranquil setting at the museum provides a great alternative to the chaos of the streets of Bangkok. The house is set in the heart of the capital on one of the canals and is surrounded by lush vegetation. If you need to get away from the noise and pollution and want some peace and quiet, this is the place to be.

The Jim Thompson Book

Jim Thompson – The Unsolved Mystery by the author William Warren is a fascinating read if you are interested in famous people who have vanished without a trace. Someday I would like to do my own research on people who have disappeared and post it on a new website, so stay tuned. I have added a link below from should you wish to order this book.

Another Unsolved Mystery – Amy Johnson

Here’s a short snippet of another famous person who simply vanished without a trace. Her name is Amy Johnson and she’s still out there somewhere. The story goes like this…. 

One day while vacating the premises of a warehouse in Cape Town, South Africa, I had come across an old handwritten diary and because of my curiosity, I had to take a closer look at it. The diary had been written from the late 1920’s to the early 1930’s and was still in good condition.

To my surprise, I’d stumbled upon some interesting information regarding this missing person. Not only were there some letters and photos, but a handwritten diary by one of Amy’s best friends. It made for some further investigation.

I contacted the British Science Museum in London who put me in touch with Amy’s niece in the UK. Amy’s Gipsy Moth aeroplane named Jason can be viewed at the Museum.

The diary, letters and photos are now in the hands of Amy’s niece. Amy Johnson, history will tell you, was the first female aviator to fly solo from England to Australia on 5th May 1930. She covered the distance with relative safety, although the journey took her some nineteen days.

Amy Johnson disappeared when the aeroplane she was flying from Scotland to London one foggy night, crashed into the Thames Estuary during the Second World War on 5th January 1941. Her body and the aircraft have never been found. Still lying somewhere at the bottom of the Thames no doubt.

The restaurant at the Jim Thompson House