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Bang Fai Phaya Nak (Naga Fireball)

Bang Fai Phaya Nak (Naga Fireball)
This extraordinary miracle always occurs at the beginning of the full moon night in the eleventh lunar month (End of Buddhist Lent). It can be seen along the Mekong River in the districts of Mueang, Phon Phisai, Pak Khat, Bung Kan, Tha Bo, Si Chiang Mai and Sangkhom. Bang Fai Phaya Nak is a term used for red and pinkish fire balls, which according to belief, belong to Phaya Nak or the great serpent of the underwater world. On the day marking the End of Buddhist Lent, a great number of people come to witness this phenomenon.
Naga Fireball Festival in Nong Khai
It remains a mystery that never ceases to puzzle both visitors and locals alike. Just what is the origin and nature of the fireballs that fly from the surface of the Mekong River high into the night sky for all to see?
Locals swear there is absolutely no doubt at all about the origin of the fireballs. Naga, the serpent reportedly dwelling in the murky currents of this mighty river, propels fireballs skyward, probably to remind villagers to treat this life-giving river with respect.
Of course, there are detractors, researchers who have spent years of study attempting to explain away the fireball phenomenon, all to no avail.

Some say it is an elaborate hoax, but the only way to find out is to travel to Nong Khai and check out river scene and the carnivals that villagers organise to celebrate the now famous legendary serpent.
Festivities run from 10 to 16 October, along the Mekong River bank, in Phon Pisai district in Nong Khai province. There are also corresponding celebrations on the Lao side of the river and no shortage of theories on whether Thailand’s neighbours, on the opposite bank, may know more than they are admitting on what causes the spectacle.

But there is no denying the fact that there is something almost mystical that causes the fireballs to erupt from the surface of the river, and villagers are taking no chances, hence the religious activities at various temples in the district to appease the Naga.
Visitors can participate in a traditional "Tak Bat Thevo" ceremony, or the early morning alms giving to monks. It involves offering sticky rice wrapped in coconut leaves, presented on the important final days of the three-month Buddhist Lent.
In the evenings, during the festival week, people gather at the river bank for the Naga procession and cultural performance that reflect the rural village traditions of the northeast region.

If all goes to plan the highlight of the trip will be the amazing sight of the Naga fireballs erupting into the sky, a phenomenon that is very likely to prompt some light hearted banter and arguments at riverside food stalls over glasses of ale or the local rice whisky on their origin.

The most convenient way to reach Nong Khai is to take one of the many daily flights offered from Bangkok to Udon Thani, either on the national airline Thai Airways International, or one of the low-cost airlines. The flight takes 50 minutes and from Udon Thani, mini buses offer a 40 minute transfer to Nong Khai. An alternative is to take the rail service that runs every evening from Bangkok to Nong Khai.


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