"Answer: The man who "single-handedly" (coz it never is just one) revived the dying domestic handmade silk manufacturing industry, saving its processes and commitment to quality against the ransacking approach of the cotton gins... er... mass produced silk masquerading as quality silk. "Lush gardens hidden amongst the skyscrapers...
A trip to BKK should not be considered complete if you have missed the opportunity to see one of the more amazing spaces in the downtown area. Yes, I know the call may be strong from the bars in Patpong with the gals who do some pretty quirky things with ping pong balls and more, but really the JT Garden is something else. It is a place that quietly says "old world" and "relax & reflect". It is an oasis amongst the maddening crowd of downtown BKK, lovingly cared for and proudlly shared by the Thais. It is a monument to a man who had the courage, conviction and commitment to run against the heady stream of modernisation in the 1930s in Bangkok and found ways to allow the dying (dye-ing!) art of handmade silk production.
In having his house built, Thompson was prepared to challenge Thai convention and place the intricate wood carving fascia on the inside of the house rather than as cladding on the outside. As testament to his eccentricity the house hints of a Thai version of the Adams family in its interior decoration.
Dont know about much about traditional approach to Thai building? The compulsory but 'free for the price of entry' tour guide will set you straight. Not sure on your Thai silk history chain of events. The informative guides will give you the goss. If seeing a headless 600 year buddha rings your bell... get on the tour!