While I was in Cameron Highlands with the family a few months ago, the story of Jim Thompson cropped up.
Since the kids are older now, they tend to be more fascinated with stories, histories and folklore instead of just having fun while on trips. It gives me a good opportunity to also get to know more about a place. It is fun to investigate and research as a family.
Jim Thompson, born March 21, 1906 in Greenville, Delaware, was an American architect who helped revitalize Thailand's silk and textile industry in the 1950s and 1960s.
Thompson, previously a member of the CIA, disappeared mysteriously after going for an afternoon walk on Easter Sunday in Cameron Highlands on March 26th, 1967.
Jim Thompson was on a quiet sojourn to the highlands to visit some friends and the fact that he left his cigarettes and a small silver 'jungle box' on the chair outside Moonlight Cottage where he was staying suggests that he had not planned to be gone for long.
Thompson was never seen again, and the theories for his disappearance are many, some plausible and others complex and far-fetched.
Many believe that he was kidnapped for his previous involvement in spying activities. However it is more likely that he was eaten by a tiger, murdered in a botched robbery or fell into an aboriginal animal trap (a pit with a spike) and buried by the Orang Asli when they discovered what had happened. Many hypotheses have been put forward to explain Thompson's disappearance, and there were some reported sightings of him after his disappearance, but what happened to him still remains one of the greater unsolved mysteries of Southeast Asia.
So, as a family we decided to retrace his trail in the jungle.
Due to the location of where he was on that day plus the fact that he didn't plan to go for a long trek as he left his cigarettes, it is generally accepted that he most probably took to No. 3 trail.
This trail is approximately 2.6 km and ends at Tanah Rata.
We got a professional guide to take us so that interesting facts about the jungle and the history can be shared with kids (as well as the parents!).
Below are lichens. The sponge of the forest. If you need water, just squeeze them and all the water trapped will be released.
This trail is well used and signage are everywhere. You should not get lost.
As we are a couple of kilometers above sea level, the cold weather limits pesky insects. Moreover, walking is a breeze as you tend not to sweat.
The jungle is beautiful.
My son was so excited.
Here and there, trees are labeled with their local and scientific names.
The lichen plant.
Here my eldest is squeezing the lichen to get water.
Plants growing on dead tree trunks.
A fallen tree on the path.
Fungus. This particular one devour dead trees.
Very eerie. Something out of the Moon of Endor in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker searched for Master Yoda.
Interesting also, the jungle is quiet. Due to the cold, animals tends to shy away from this altitude. There is no monkey, elephants or wild boars. They can be found only in the lowlands.
Due to the foliage, maximum distance you can look is about 30 meters.
We went up a hill and then down again, up and down. Good exercise for the legs!
Interesting root structure. Looks like an alien organism.
My son having fun climbing over tree trunks.
About half way into the trip we found a small stream which we followed.
It became larger into a small river.
The kids took the opportunity to wade into the small river. It was very cold!!!
A caterpillar. If you were to brush on this caterpillar, it has a very unique protection system that stings your skin.
A jungle banana.
After 3 hours, we got out of the jungle to a waiting van to take us back to the resort.