The Oxford-educated Kukrit, descendant of King Rama II, was Speaker of the Thai Parliament from 1973 to 1974, Prime Minister from 1975 to ’76 and founder of Thailand’s first political party, the Progress Party, in 1945 and another, the Social Action Party, in 1974.
Amid all the politics, he founded and wrote for Siam Rath newspaper, founded the Kone Thammasat dance troupe, and wrote book after book, both fiction and non-fiction.
His home in Bangkok is open to the public. For such a grand figure, it is surprisingly modest, dwarfed today by towering skyscrapers.
The home is of traditional design in wood, standing on posts high enough to form a shady open ground floor. It was constructed from five small wooden houses brought together and then connected.
The last addition was a large timber hall in which MR Kukrit would entertain guests and stage performances of Kone dance, in which he was an acknowledged expert. Kone masks he collected are displayed in glass cases in the hall.
From there, one walks through a Chinese-style garden (there is a Chinese shrine off to the right – MR Kukrit’s great-grandmother, consort to Rama II, had Chinese blood), and then the house, with a comfortable sitting room and dining room beneath.
The upstairs rooms are small – a bedroom, a small sitting room and a study lined with books.
Beyond is a small pool and a bridge leading to a lawn with a sala in which he would hang his songbirds while reading.
Plainly, whatever one might think of his politics – he was rather too right-wing for most modern sensibilities – this was a man who valued the intellectual and cultural life beyond riches.
The Kukrit House is on Soi Phra Pinit on the Sathon area, and is open most days; it can also be (and frequently is) rented for functions. To inquire, call 02 286 8185.