The Naga Fireballs (Mekong River Lights)

Xeyes

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animal or ?

I have heard that In the Mekong River near Nongkhai, Thailand, during a full moon, in the evening. Lights appeared under the water for a few hundred metres along the Mekong River. They rise from the bottom of the river and floated to the surface, then shot like missiles into the sky and out of sight. They are as big or bigger than a basketball,. I am told this happens every year at the same time (Octoberish). Locals say it is caused by a serpent releasing her eggs. Does anyone have any info on this Phenomena/ animal?? If it is a repeat phenomenon I would imagine that somewhere there is footage etc.

NOTE:

This thread focuses on the Naga Fireballs (aka Mekong River Lights). The affiliated subject of the legendary cryptid known as the Naga is the focus of this separate thread:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...-thailand-cryptid-legendary-water-beast.7651/
 
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A

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Yeah, I remember reading about it a long time ago. I want to go there and check it out. Could of course be swampgas. No I mean it, it could be gasses from the bottom released on a regular basis. But in any case, I would really like to travel China, I think you could find a lot of paranormal things there.
 

meanderer1

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Thai fireballs

Has Nov 5th come early?

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_694513.html?menu=



100,000 tourists flock to see mysterious Thai fireballs

More than 100,000 tourists flocked to a remote part of Thailand to see a mysterious phenomenon in which coloured fireballs shoot into the sky.

The flames, said to come from a mythical serpent living in the Mekong River in the north eastern province of Nong Khai, are known as Naga's Fireballs.

The Thai government recently ordered an investigation into the phenomenon which occurs yearly on the first full-moon night of October, coinciding with the end of Buddhist Lent.

Some scientists say the red, pink and orange fireballs are caused by flammable natural gas deposits in the river bed drawn to the surface by the moon's gravitational pull.

Whatever the cause, the fireballs are a boon to the local economy with hotels booked up weeks in advance.

Several private hospitals also rented out their unused rooms and beds to meet the rush of tourists. Temples, schools and some local households also offered lodging, reports the Bangkok Post.
 

Anome

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Re: Thai fireballs

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Meanderer said:
Some scientists say the red, pink and orange fireballs are caused by flammable natural gas deposits in the river bed drawn to the surface by the moon's gravitational pull.
Which scientists are saying this, and why should we hear their opinion over that of scientists that might say the alleged gas floats to the surface through, let's say natural buoyancy?

Back to the fireballs themselves: any video on the web?
 

meanderer1

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I found a bit more information in the Bangkok Times but no video so far

BANG FAI PHAYA NARK FESTIVAL
More than 800 fireballs rise from Mekong

Nong Khai boosted by 400,000 visitors



The annual Bang Fai Phaya Nark festival, in which mysterious fireballs rise from the Mekong river, proved a resounding success this year, drawing around 400,000 visitors to Nong Khai and injecting more than 50 million baht into the local economy.

At the height of the four-day festival on Monday night, a total of 829 fireballs were reported to have been seen from several riverbanks throughout the northeastern province, said the local radio centre.

Most of the fireballs were seen by around 200,000 spectators packed into Rattana Wapi sub-district, where 483 spheres of light were reported to have risen from the river.

The second most popular viewing points were Phon Phisai district, where about 100,000 people witnessed 188 fireballs, and Bung Kan district, where a crowd of similar proportions saw 86 flaming orbs.

In other areas: 62 fireballs were witnessed by 5,000 people in Pak Khad district; seven were seen by 3,300 in Sangkhom district; and three were spotted by 3,000 in Bung Khong Long.

All hotels and guesthouses in Nong Khai were fully booked in advance of the festival, said Mongkhol Sirorattanarangsi, president of the provincial chamber commerce.

The fireball event is an unexplained phenomenon that generally takes place on the full moon night of the 11th lunar month, which also coincides with the end of the Buddhist Lent.
 
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Re: Re: Thai fireballs

anome said:
Which scientists are saying this, and why should we hear their opinion over that of scientists that might say the alleged gas floats to the surface through, let's say natural buoyancy?
Good point. In fact the force on any gas bubbles would probably be less when the moon is directly above, as the lifting force on the bubbles would be due to the the downwards force on the water (or whatever) being pulled beneath them. :)
 

meanderer1

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In that case why does it only take place once a year and not once a month?
 
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That's another good point.

So if the moon theory has anything going for it:
a) It happens at the wrong time of the lunar cycle, and
b) It doesn't happen every month.

My guess (never having seen the lights, so it is *just* a guess) is that it is far more likely to be biological in origin. There are many cases of biological systems synchronising in an extreme way (including IIRC a type of burrowing cicada that only emerges once every few years, but all on the same night.)

Some type of glow-worm-like creature, anyone? :)
 

meanderer1

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Doesn't sound like a creature Fortis - the report says 'fire-balls' and if 400,000 people were watching them I think they'd have found if they were creatures suddenly shot into space. I'm just curious to know why this happens only once a year. Perhaps the river is tidal or perhaps its after floods? I'll have to do some digging about the Mekong river I think - but not until after the w/end !
 
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I was really envisaging "balls" of insects engaged in their annual mating thing. (Little mating swarms.) I'll freely admit that it could be absolute tosh, but the annual occurence seems more suggestive of biology. :)

I'll also have a bit of a trawl to see if I can find an annual geophysical event. :)
 

The late Pete Younger

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Draws in loads of cash, happens once a year, government sponsored fireworks perhaps.
 

Anome

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p.younger said:
Draws in loads of cash, happens once a year, government sponsored fireworks perhaps.
You forgot: Coincides with religious festival/event. My brother (in e-mail) suggested that maybe the Buddhist priests have a big dinner of lentils and then bow before sacred candles or something (not his exact words, but the gist of it is there).

I haven't had a chance to look for video, myself, yet, but I'll have a look around tonight. Something happening as regularly as this must be on tape somewhere. And, given the nature of the Internet, if it's on tape, it's on the web.
 

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bloody typical that it happens a month before I'm due to be there :Grr!: :headbutt:
 

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{thanks for the merge, emps}

Here's a discussion (as the pagemaker notes, lifted from New Scientist ) about the lights rising from the river phenomena which are mentioned in the first post of this thread:



The Mekong Dragon


Ripped wholesale from the New Scientist Lastword archive

[Archive: 6 September 1997] Mekong mystery

My wife saw a puzzling sight in October 1994, in the Mekong River near Nongkhai, Thailand, during a full moon, in the evening. Lights appeared under the water for a few hundred metres along the Mekong River. They rose from the bottom of the river and floated to the surface, then shot like missiles into the sky and out of sight. They were the size of beach balls, and many flew out of the water every few minutes, surfacing about 10 metres apart. I am told this happens every year at the same time. Locals say it is caused by a serpent releasing her eggs. Does anyone know of this phenomenon?

I read about the Mekong mystery with interest. In many respects it is similar to sightings of the ignis fatuus or will-o'-the-wisp which terrified English travellers in the Middle Ages and is found in the folklore of many different cultures. The ignis fatuus is a comparatively rare phenomenon which seems to result from the spontaneous combustion of marsh gases. For many years the active ingredient was thought to be a highly reduced compound of phosphorus--the hydride diphosphane which exerts a high vapour pressure at between 20 °C and -30 °C and spontaneously combusts in air at quite low concentrations. Earlier this century, scientists discounted the possibility that this compound could be formed by bacterial action, on thermodynamic grounds. But more recent work has shown that such reduced compounds do exist in decaying, phosphorus-rich organic matter. This can be seen in the so-called corpse candles reported in churchyards.
Even so, further explanation is required in the Mekong case, because the light there was seen rising below the water. Gases forming in the presumably anoxic muds of the river would not come into contact with sufficient oxygen for underwater combustion, and the diphosphane hypothesis may have to be discounted.
Some of the people who have experimented with these lights report seeing a "cold flame". There are several alternative theories to explain the phenomenon. For example, under low concentrations of oxygen, phosphorus vapour is luminescent and may easily form through diphosphane decomposition. Some microbiologists believe the phenomenon is caused by phosphorescent bacteria, a few species of which are thought to be soil-inhabiting. The dramatic exit of the gases as described by your correspondent is not without precedent and many remarkable descriptions are to be found in literature. I hold a record of European sightings and would welcome recent updates from readers. A British ignis fatuus distribution map is available to contributors.
ALLAN PENTECOST
Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Please send your records to Allan Pentecost c/o New Scientist: Mekong Mystery and we will forward the correspondence--Ed

The presence of the full Moon and the regular spacing of the lights would suggest to me an optical illusion.
Regular standing waves on rivers are not uncommon and may occur after heavy seasonal rain, for example. While they often remain in one place, they can move up and downstream if the river is tidal. Their height and spacing depend on flow and river bed topography.
The Moon, reflecting off these waves, can produce multiple reflections that might appear to move away from an observer, accelerating as the height of the wave decreases.
Boat bow waves can also be very long-lasting (they have been implicated in sightings on Loch Ness) and could produce similar effects.
TIM DOWNIE
Ayr

[Archive: 20-27 December 1997]

(continued)
I have heard of the Mekong lights, though I have not actually seen them. I worked in this area as a geologist, and being intrigued by reports of the lights, inquired after the phenomenon from both local farmers and eyewitnesses. I can offer the following extra information.
The lights not only occur in the part of the Mekong River that is referred to by your questioner but also in an adjacent area to the north, within Laos (in this area the Mekong River forms the national border between Laos and Thailand).
They are confined only to this small area and I have not heard of their occurrence anywhere else in Laos or Thailand. They arise both from the river and from rice paddies, many of which are still flooded at that time of year. The Thai/Lao name for them is the Nekha Lights--the nekha is a large fish which lives in the local waters and is seen in great numbers on the river surface at certain times of the year. Perhaps this is the serpent to which the original questioner refers. The lights are a famous and ancient annual phenomenon in both countries, and one to which the local people attach an important religious significance. Many Lao and Thai people travel to the area to try to see them, although the lights vary in their intensity and in some years are barely visible, if at all.
The lights have been filmed, and have also been shown on Thai television. The most intriguing aspect is that they occur only once a year, during the full moon in October for a very limited period (possibly only one night). The duration of a display is about 30 minutes, and there was a particularly dramatic show in 1996.

PAUL

The Fortean Times recently ran a story on the lights, claiming that they are fireworks. The whole thing is apparently a hoax intended to attract tourists. I'll fill in more details when I find the article. I remain open minded
-Ian


http://www.planetfusion.co.uk/~pignut/mekong.html
 

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Mighty_Emperor

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THE MEKONG'S MYSTERIOUS FIREBALLS

FOR two nights every year, thousands gather along the banks of the Mekong River to watch a strange phenomena the Thais call the Naga fireballs.

The pinkish glowing balls, the size of chicken eggs, apparently emerge noiselessly from the river's surface, rise in straight-lined succession before disappearing in the thin night air.

The fireball spectacle, or what the locals call Bung Fai Pha Ya Nak, reportedly occurred more than 200 years ago. It happens on the full moon night of October, along a 300km stretch in Nong Khai, the north-east province of Thailand, bordering Laos.

It was the highlight of a five-day educational media trip to north-east Thailand and Laos that I was a part of, along with others from the Singapore print and broadcast industry.

The fireballs have become the main draw for the two-day celebrations that include light shows, boat contests, food offerings and traditional Thai shows.

However, there is no guarantee that they will appear every year.

The mood was electric as the crowd of about 10,000 started filling in as early as 6pm. They would stay till midnight, sustained by barbecued giant freshwater-fish, tom yam soup and Thai beer.

You will know it when the fireballs are out. The people will cheer, says Mr Nittaya Aumbhitaya, director of Tourism of Thailand of the nearby Khon Kaen province.

'You look up and they're in the air,' he says.

Asked if he has seen the fireballs himself, he says that he has every year.

'Last year, I saw three from here,' pointing at the river next to our dining table.

What causes the fireballs remains a mystery. But theories abound.

SUPERNATURAL?

The Nong Khai Thais, being devout Buddhists, believe the fireballs come from Naga, or serpent, as a form of spiritual homage to the Buddha.

Our tourist guide, Ms Veena Puntace, says of the fireballs: 'Initially, I believed the scientific explanation of the fireballs. But then I meditate too, and also, how do you explain the timing?'

The end of Buddhist lent coincides with the eleventh full moon, which is when the fireballs occur.

SCIENTIFIC?

Scientists however, have another explanation. They hold that the fireballs are the result of a series of natural forces at play.

In October, there is an abundance of plant and animal life decomposing at the bottom of the Mekong. These emit flammable natural gases as the sun beats down on the river. At night, these gases are released by the gravitational pull of the moon, at its strongest when it's full.

In a New York Times article, the Tourism of Thailand authorities apparently claimed that they had the chemical composition of the fireball sorted out: methane-nitrogen gas with aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that sparks when it rises and mixes with oxygen.

OR MAN-MADE?

A Thai TV station said that the fireballs were actually rounds of tracer ammunitions. The tracer rounds were supposedly fired on the other side of the riverbank by Laos soldiers who were using AK47 rifles.

This version did not go down well with Buddhists. Hundreds were reported to have gathered to protest against the TV station's version of the event last year. Mr Surasee Pathum, a Nong Khai film director who has completed a documentary on the fireballs, said: 'How many bullets will the Laos soldiers fire? A lot. Now, why would the Laos soldiers do that, to fool the world?

'Besides, the colour and the speed of the Naga fireballs are very different from that of bullets.,' he said

ALIENS

Watching the documentary VCD I bought at the site, I can't help but think of UFOs. But let's not go there.

It would have been easier for me to write what I think about the fireballs had I witnessed it myself. Sadly, in the four hours I waited, the only things that shot up from the riverbank were the numerous fireworks set off by excited members of the crowd.

By 10pm, the crowd had mostly thinned, with the intention of coming back the next night, which, after all, was Laos' full moon. The joke that night was that Naga was a Laotian. So it would definitely fire those balls the second night.

Whatever the Naga fireball was, the general consensus among the Singapore media group was of acceptance.

The phenomena has moved a large number of people into believing in something that gives them hope, faith and I believe, happiness. The Naga fireballs have become inspirational, something to look forward to each year.

Much like Singaporeans' joy in anticipation of their National Day Parade. Only this one is on a more spiritual level.

We would have gladly stayed for the second night but we had to go. Who knows, maybe next year?

----------------------------
Getting there

YOU can reach Khon Kaen and Udon Thani from Bangkok by flight and road (local coach).

From Udon Thani or Khon Kaen, take a coach to Nong Khai. The domestic airfare from Bangkok to Khon Kaen by Thai Airways is 1,500 baht (one way, including taxes) and by Air Asia it is 599 Baht (one way, excluding taxes).

Details are available at www.thaiairways.com and www.airasia.com. Flying time is 1 hr and 5 mins.

The air-conditioned coach fare from Bangkok to Khon Kaen and Udon Thani is about 500 Baht. Go to www.transport.co.th for details.
Source
 

EnolaGaia

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...The Naga article in question is online here at:

http://www.forteantimes.com/articles/166_naga.shtml
This online FT link is long dead. The article can be accessed via the Wayback Machine at:

https://web.archive.org/web/20031005001151/http://www.forteantimes.com/articles/166_naga.shtml

Here are the excerpts most relevant to the Naga fireball(s) phenomenon ...


N THE COILS OF THE NAGA

In Thailand, legends abound of a gigantic, crested serpent called the naga. but could this mythological beast be a real, flesh-and-blood creature? recent reports of encounters with this fearsome beast led RICHARD FREEMAN to investigate. ...
... The naga mystery, with its complex folklore, has become entangled with many mysteries over the years; one of these is the naga fireballs.

On 13 October each year, balls of red light are seen shooting out of the Mekong river. Locals believe these to be the breath of the naga, heralding the end of the rainy season. Huge crowds assemble to celebrate and view the phenomenon from the banks of the Mekong. The fortean in me recalled the balls of blue light associated with giant snakes in the Amazon (believed to be their bioluminescent eyes) and I thought, too, of the earth lights often reported over water. Perhaps two fortean phenomena were occurring here side by side.

During daylight, before the appearance of the nocturnal lights, a huge parade took place, with hundreds of people in traditional dress, bands playing, and floats carrying images of the naga. It ended with a temple made entirely from bamboo leaves being floated upon the river.

By nightfall, I found myself surrounded by 100,000 screaming Thais shining spotlights and laser pointers on the water and letting off fireworks. Traditional long boats illuminated with candles and lamps passed by as we waited for the phenomenon to begin. Suddenly a shout went up: a fireball had been spotted. Shortly after I saw a red light spring upwards from the opposite bank, then fade away. Soon, more followed – first in ones, then in twos, threes and fours. Swiftly, something dawned upon me; if this were a natural phenomenon, it would surely be occurring across the entire width of the river. The lights were springing up from the far bank – the Laotian side – in what appeared to be an extremely orchestrated fashion. They also seemed to be coming from areas where lamps were visible and people, presumably, were present. The fabled naga fireballs seemed to be nothing more mysterious than fireworks of the relatively noiseless kind that fade away rather than exploding, much like maritime distress flares. ...
THE NAGA FIREBALLS

The annual appearance of the mysterious naga fireballs – on the full moon of the 11th lunar month each year and coinciding with the Buddhist equivalent of Lent – has become an important part of Thailand’s tourist industry. Celebrated in the Bang Fai Phaya Nark festival, the phenomenon is a huge boon to the local economy of the north-eastern border province of Nong Khai. 2002’s event saw in excess of 400,000 visitors, both Thais and foreign tourists, joining the celebrations along the Mekong river, mostly in the districts of Phon Phisai, Sri Chiang Mai, Pak Khad, Rattana Wapi and Bung Kan. The mysterious balls of red, pink and orange light were supplemented by a special light and sound show over the festival’s four-day run, bringing in more tourists than ever before.

At the height of festivities, a total of 829 fireballs was reported – noticeably less than in some previous years, when thousands were seen. The largest concentration was in the Rattana Wapi district, where 483 of the mystery lights were seen rising from the river. 188 fireballs were reported from Phon Pisai, 86 from Bung Kan, 62 from Pak Khad, seven from Sangkhom and a rather disappointing three from Bung Khong Long. One newspaper report blamed the “unusually poor show” in some areas on the weather; a heavy downpour and strong winds also dampened the spirits of visitors, many of whom had made the trip after seeing the recent hit Thai movie Mekong Full Moon Party, a comedy centred around the fireball festival.

The Thai government has apparently commissioned an investigation into the mystery orbs, whose cause remains unknown. While they are traditionally believed to emanate from the naga – some legends say they are the serpent’s eggs - scientists have suggested that the fireballs are produced by flammable natural gas deposits in the river bed drawn to the surface by the moon’s gravitational pull; although this hardly explains why it should happen only in the month of October or early November.

A recently-aired TV documentary has further muddied the waters, suggesting that the entire fireball phenomenon is a hoax perpetrated by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to bring money to the region and that the ‘fireballs’ were created with tracer bullets from AK-47 rifles on the Laotian side of the Mekong. Prasit Chanthathong, a Nong Khai MP, responded that since the fireballs had been seen for hundreds of years, this wasn’t a very convincing debunking:“How did anyone have a gun back then to create this show?” he asked, apparently forgetting the earlier Chinese use of gunpowder and rockets.


 
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