X-ray and consultation cost £12, another appointment booked for cleaning – we were on a spending roll, so dinner at our local Vegetarian restaurant (including dubious flavours of chicken, duck, pork, and seafood) beckoned. We wandered up a busy main street and randomly - note randomly - stopped for a beer en-route at one of the numerous open-air Thai road café/bars. Beer for me, and Coke for Tip.
Inside, the walls were adorned with paintings – the owner’s alternative business. Animals, birds, landscapes, Thai village life – seemed like the guy, who was busy retrieving a stand from the pavement, (rain was imminent) had decided that he had a better chance of selling them. Can’t say I was overly impressed, and turned back to people watch – a few raindrops fell, and the wind blew in a condo resident. This guy had his beautiful parrot perched on his shoulder, which - with a flourish - he hooked the bird’s claw to the edge of an empty table, and went to order a meal.
Note: this guy used to tout tourists who wanted to take a picture of his parrot perched on their shoulders, until he was fined by the immigration police for not having a work permit.
The parrot’s feathers: redhead and neck, yellow chest, and blue abdomen, plus brilliant, long blue and red tail. Quite lovely – and not at all perturbed. It examined the table contents, eyed the condiments tray, and delicately pecked out a toothpick, which it chewed with relish (couldn’t resist the pun). A waitress spoiled its fun by removing said tray from the table, while the parrot cocked its head, and started to people-watch instead.
Back comes the guy, sits down and waits. I order another beer (you have to, don’t you) and also wait, while Tip sips her drink, and plays with her Internet phone. His food turns up – burger, fries and salad dressing, plus a coke – and he asks the waitress (in English sign language) for a small drinking container for the parrot (she nods, and assumes it’s water, he wants).
If you’re squeamish don’t read on.
This guy takes a big bite of burger, and offers the bun to the parrot, followed by shared fries and salad. Then he tips out the incoming water-filled dish outside, and fills it with coke (for the parrot), much to the bemused look of the waitress.
Tip has on one of her disapproving looks – her cooking hygiene meets western standards - demanding no wildlife in eating places – but I say he’s a customer, right? No roadside café is going to turf out a Farang ATM. She pushes her Coke to one side; I get the message; down my beer, and ask for the bill. Don’t worry, we are still best friends.
We leave the Thai staff to mop up the inevitable bird droppings – another Ting-Tong Farang visit – but hey, this is Thailand.