Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Naga Fireballs in Laos and Isaan along the Mekong...

On the last night of the Buddhist Lent, Naga fireballs (Thai: บั้งไฟพญานาค, bangfai payanak) appearing from the Mekong River's surface, can be seen once a year in Laos and Nong Khai province in Thailand. These glowing fireballs appear from the depth of the River...

The origin of this phenomenon is not clear. Some scientists have proposed that the fireballs are a product of the fermentation of river sediments, which can combust in the Mekong river under certain atmospheric conditions.

A Thai television channel once suggested that tracer fires originating from drunken Lao soldiers are the true cause of this spectacle. Furious protests from local villagers have been the answer. They believe that the
Naga fireballs are produced by a snake-like Guardian spirits of the Mekong River - the Naga or Phaya Naga. These spirits have been living in Laos and Isaans Rivers ever since. This local belief was also supported by a popular Thai newspaper.

However, on the Lao side of the Mekong River, the Naga fireballs can be spotted where Nam Ngum and Mekong River join in Thaprabath District, Bolikhamxay Province, as well as in Pak Ngum District, 60 km east of
Vientiane capital.

In Thailand Isaan region, Phon Pisai in Nong Khai seems to be the most famous and maybe the best place to observe this yearly spectacle on the Mekong River. One has to be early in order to get a good place as this

spectacle is very popular amongst the Lao and the Lao speaking Isaan people.

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