all my heroes are weirdos

We're All Mad Here

Cock Contest

You know it’s going to be an interesting day when your friend looks to you, makes an imaginary tick shape in the air and says “10am Cock Contest. CHECK”.

We’d just started a climb towards the Secret Buddha garden at the top of Pom Mountain when, in the middle of a clearing in the dense palm tree jungle, we saw a crowd of local men huddled together and shouting loudly.

Curiosity got the better of us and we found ourselves shuffling over the thick blades of grass towards the kerfuffle, keeping a cautious eye out for snakes and other ankle-biting predators.

We passed an abandoned car and a few stray cockerels before reaching the clamouring congregation.

WE’LL TAKE TO THE YARD LIKE A COCK FIGHT

There were cocks everywhere.

Some were being paraded around the place and stroked with pride, some were trying to escape their owner’s grasp and others were tucked under t-shirts waiting for the grand reveal.

The men were excited and shouting loudly from behind a thin barrier of string that pressed against their hips giving them a psychological boundary they couldn’t cross.

On the other side of that piece of string were rows and rows of tall T-shaped wooden perches. Each had a bright green post-it hanging from it with a hand-written number on it in dark blue marker pen.

Our hearts started racing.

At first we thought it was a cock fight, which would have been bad enough, but as the men took their cockerels to the perches one by one, the whole thing began to feel a lot more sinister.

Before long, all perches numbered one to fifteen were balancing a cockerel on them – except from perch number two.The crowd were getting noisier, waiting impatiently for something to start and our heart rates gained even more momentum.

THAILAND’S NEXT TOP CHICKEN

A large man with exceedingly broad shoulders wearing a beige short-sleeved shirt marched over confidently to the empty perch number two.

He had a big ball of flapping feathers tucked under his arm, partially` concealed by a bright purple shawl. He placed his hen-in-a-hijab on top of the wooden stand and revealed to the crowd our soon-to-be star of the show.

Paranoia and curiosity were both on overdrive.

Our hearts were thumping as we stood there with bated breath, hands covering our faces with enough room between our fingers to see it all. Our nerves made us want to leave but we couldn’t peel ourselves away from this long-awaited rooster revelation. Our feet were glued down tight with intrigue.

We thought the worst. We expected somebody to pull out a machine gun and shoot down the feathered line up. We thought we were about to witnesses to some sort of sick and twisted farmyard massacre.

The crowd were still stood pressed against their string fence, becoming more and more disorderly by the minute, heckling raucously at their hens. The cockerels, on the other hand, were pretty calm and well-behaved.

Two men armed with clipboards and pens pushed through the group and stood in front of the poultry pageant.

MIKE, HEN IN A HIJAB

There was a man in a marine blue polo shirt and matching cap who appeared to be wearing a whistle around his neck near to the front, he seemed to be some sort of umpire.

We just simply could not wait any longer to know whether or not we were about to be witnesses to murder or just had front row seats to Thailand’s Next Top Chicken.

What on earth is happening? we asked.

It’s a singing contest, he replied with complete and utter nonchalance – as though we’d just asked him to tell us the time.

Of course it was.

Of course, at the foot of a mountain, deep in the jungle, at ten o’clock on a Sunday morning we were about to watch a cockerel singing competition.

Apparently Thailand is famed for its annual bird-singing competitions and Koh Samui islanders are particularly avid fans. Not only do they host the usual birdcage singalong, but they host cockerel contests just like this one, every single week.

We watched with puzzled smirks as Mike, formerly known as hen-in-a-hijab, was hailed abuse at for not singing. Contestants one to fifteen were all doing their cock-a-doodle-doos but much to the dismay of his owner, poor old Mike was a cock-a-doodle-don’t.

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2 Comments

  1. Carmel Keogh 29 January 2019

    How wonderful a singing contest! Just brilliant you couldn’t make it up. I too feared a fight or over-ruffling of feathers!

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