I’ve suffered from motion sickness ever since I was a few weeks old. It can occur on planes, trains, automobiles, buses, boats, rollercoaster rides, watching motor car racing and playing video games on television, or just by spinning me around a few times. I’ve learnt to manage it over the years* but my worst experience occurred during my first long haul flight.
Four hours into the first leg of my journey I started to feel sick and began vomiting. It didn’t stop until I’d had a cup of tea and a dry piece of toast when I arrived at my final destination twenty two hours later. For the next two weeks, the mer thought of flying made my stomach churn.
Now, when booking flights I choose airlines with the most direct route and the least number of stops. If a flight is more than eight hours long, I prefer to break the journey up with an overnight stopover. I’ve found that I really love travelling this way as it allows me the opportunity to encounter places and cultures that I may have missed otherwise.
I’d always wanted to visit Thailand. I love Thai food and anyone I knew who had travelled there always returned home raving to me about how affordable it is, the gentleness of the people, the culture and the beauty of the landscape, particularly the beaches.
My trip to Israel was the perfect opportunity for me to get a feel for the lay of the land for future Thai travel adventures so I booked a return flight with stopovers in Bangkok.
A week prior to embarking, I ran into an artist who I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years. We were both in a hurry but made the time to briefly update each other on our most recent news. Despite his thick french accent and broken english, I discovered he was about to move to Sydney. He learnt of my upcoming travel plans to Israel, Turkey and Thailand.
Knowing how much I love architecture and design he recommended that I visit Jim Thompson House in Bangkok. I made a mental note, then we exchanged hugs and departed company.
Fast forward one week, I’m in Thailand and wandering through the streets of central Bangkok. Although I live in the heart of Brisbane and I’m used to the pace and sounds of a big city, this didn’t prepare me for the intensity, noise and haggling I experienced when navigating my way around the area I was staying in. It wasn’t the tranquil and exotic experience I’d imagined.
Feeling a little overwhelmed and disappointed I went back to my hotel to ‘regroup’ and determine how I wanted to spend the rest of my day, before flying on to Israel a little before midnight.
Then I remembered Julien’s advice about visiting the home of the American business man and architect, Jim Thompson, who, almost single handedly resurrected the silk industry following World War II and generated an international demand for Thai silk.
Back at my hotel, I got on line to find out the location of Jim Thompson House. To my surprise and dismay I discovered it was in the next street, just around the corner from where I was staying. I couldn’t believe it. I’d booked my accommodation two months prior to running into Julien. It was as if it was destined to be.
My instincts were right. Jim Thompson House was the quiet reprieve my soul was craving amidst all the hustle bustle of Bangkok. Visiting this museum gave me an opportunity to learn more about myself and what I deeply desire.
I immediately felt myself relax the moment I walked through the museum gates and into the lush tropical garden, reminiscent of a jungle, surrounding the home. I happily spent the afternoon touring the main house, guest and servants quarters, exploring the garden, eating lunch at the restaurant and browsing through the exquisite items available at the gift shop.
I was in awe of the meticulous preservation of the house and the attention to detail given to all facets of the museum. Jim Thompson’s home, which was reconstructed from six traditional Thai-style houses and built entirely without nails, was thoughtfully designed to embrace the outdoors and capture cool breezes. It’s layout and open plan style ensured privacy, yet allowed its occupants and guests to enjoy the beauty of the properties magnificent gardens and views of the river.
I was also impressed with the quality of the fabrics, artistry and workmanship that went into each of the Jim Thompson branded personal items and homewares that were on sale in the gift shop. The restaurant fit out, decor, table settings, crockery and cutlery were a tasteful blend of contemporary and traditional. The food and beverages were beautifully presented and equal delectable.
The juxtaposition of what I’d experienced prior to arriving at the museum reminded me of just how much I resonate with beautiful design, quality materials and craftsmanship. It also made me realise that living in a partially renovated home, though full of character and great potential, was unsettling me at a deep subconscious level. I made a mental note. This was something I needed to change and fast.
Coincidently, I had a similar experience on the return leg of my trip. In this instance my hotel was located in the Langsuan area of Bangkok. Again, I’d booked my accommodation months before running into Julien. Yet, this time I discovered I was staying within walking distance to Jim Thompson’s five story flagship retail store.
I’d originally intended to visit the floating markets and some of the temples Bangkok is famous for on my return visit. Instead, I spent the afternoon exploring all five levels of the Thai Silk retail emporium.
I found myself particularly drawn to the homewares and furniture departments which were spread out across levels four and five. As if mesmerised, I studied the clean simple lines and dimensions of the handmade solid timber furniture on display, envisioning what they might look like in my home.
For almost eighteen years I’d been living in a space that was more reminiscent of building site than a home. Due to unforeseen delays and the order in which the renovations needed to take place, I’d been making do with a dilapidated kitchen, a stove in which the oven was broken, stairs with no hand rails, exposed water pipes and electrical cabling, rooms that were sparsely furnished and the list goes on. As a result, I’d stopped entertaining. My house had become a place I enjoyed escaping from rather than a refuge I loved.
These two serendipitous encounters allowed me to realise that living this way was not conducive to my wellbeing. I discovered that what I’m really longing for is a sanctuary that reflects all aspects of me – what I value, my personality, taste, style, creativity, passions, travel experiences, fondest memories and love of nature, animals and the outdoors. I now understand that I want and need is to create a space that I feel proud of and am comfortable in. A sacred environment that I can relax in and share with family and friends. A place in which I can express myself fully and embrace all the things I love.
I don’t know what the future holds. But, one thing I do know is that my time in Bangkok has helped me realise how important my environment, particularly that in which I live and spend most of my time, is to me. For me, it needs to be a haven. Experience has taught me that clarity is the first step towards your desires becoming a reality.
Will I sell and move? Or will I finish my renovation? Only time will tell. Watch this space.