The Naga of Thailand (Cryptid; Legendary Water Beast)

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

https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/the-naga-fireballs-mekong-river-lights.65044/
 
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dot23

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Naga article in 166

Again not to add to David Sutton's woes but I did feel the Naga article lacked something - like background history, facts and analysis...

Okay for most people this will be a new subject, and it has a certain entertainment value (particularly enjoyed the comparrison between Bangkok and Birmigham - I mentioned this to a fellow traveller recently and they said they'd made the same likeness only days before to another friend - spookY!), far too chatty though. Mind you, after having travelled in Thailand and Laos for the last 3 months, Nagas in their various forms are constantly visible. As Beekboo mentioned in the 167 thread, I shouldn't moan, I should try and do better - I hope to compile a short letter to be printed in the FT (hopefully) over the coming weeks, when things have settled down here a bit.

In the meantime, I thought I'd bring this photograph and this web site to people's attention - specifically the author of the original peice (who's name I've forgotten - sorry).
The experts at an American Piscatorial society examined it meticulously and found: -

1: That this was a unique creature not seen or captured before.

2: That it was a creature of the river and not from the sea.

3: That it had green blood.

Now perhaps this is a well known fake (as is suggested in the web page linked), or perhaps there's something more. I've either seen this photo myself (in a bar in Bangkok) or heard of it being seen in several places in Laos, including islands in the Mekong near to where it was originally taken. The text at the top of the photo reads: ' queen of nagas captured by american army, mekong river, at Laos mekong delta on June 27th 1973 with a length of 7.80 metres' which is at odds with the text of the article which claims the photo was taken in 1968 - this somewhat discredits the theory that it is a picture taken at a US SEAL training base. Note the seahorse type head and red fins down the spine, very reminiscent of typical Naga carvings and staircases.

<edit> Just had a thought - at the place where the photo claims the Naga was caught are the largest river cascade in SE Asia, if such creatures had to go up and down river to spawn/ feed they would have to jump up or fall down the cascade, a drop of some 20 - 30 feet (approx) - the locals use platforms to catch migrating fish which attempt to jump up and fail. If this was so, the effect would look very much like the naga staircase, undulating down what usually apear to be watery rocks, and certainly a frightening and impressive sight - I'll try and find a decent photo to demonstrate this...</edit>

Do any cryptozoologists recall this pcture, what it is etc? I am fascinated as if this picture is what it purports to be, and was taken where it purports to be taken, we need to reexamine the Naga myth seriously.
 

Dr_David_Sutton

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I saw the Naga piece as an entertaining travelogue rather than in-depth cryptozoological research - light-hearted but not without value.
The picture you mention seeing is, I seem to remember, of an oarfish; I think it might even have appeared in FT many moons ago...

David
 

dot23

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Fair point David, it was more traveloguey and I did enjoy reading it on that level. I remain disappointed tho', as I was hoping for some more information about the background to these interesting creatures - as I mentioned before I'd be interested in writing something along those lines for a letter, and have found an interesting starting point already - in a book co-written by Buckminster-fuller of all people!

The oarfish does spring to mind in relation to this photo, and subsequent digging revealed this definition:

Oarfish
The oarfish are any of a family Regalecidae of deep-sea bony fishes, found in warm parts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Oarfish are large, up to 9m long, elongated, and compressed, with a fin along the back and a manelike crest behind the head. They have a small mouth, no teeth or scales, and large eyes. They are often reported as sea serpents.

as well as this authentication of the original photo:

Here is a picture of Giant Oarfish caught at the US Navy SEAL training center on Coronado Island, just off the coast of San Diego, California. The photo was taken in 1996! Giant Oarfish are one of the strangest looking fish that you will ever see. It is believed that Giant Oarfish which get up to 50 feet long, have been the source of many sea monster reports.

and this photograph:

eastcape_photo1_02_01_01.jpg


as well as this artists impression:

G-535.gif


not dissimilar to this:

naga.jpg


So it would appear that a) the photo was indeed taken in 1996 (there are several net citations of this photo - eg. here ) and has been used as some sort of bizarre joke by the Laos tourist agency and that b) this still doesn't mean that the Naga are not in fact Oarfish - some have been recorded as up to 50 ft long and they do inhabit the Pacific so it's not inconcievable that 1) the Naga has passed on as a mythic creature from when certain ethnic groups travelled from the Pacific to SE Asia or that 2) Oarfish have come up the mekong river - this may be unlikely as they are naturally saltwater fish, but there may be a fresh water variety which is so far undiscovered.

As I say I intend to read up on this and report back over the next few days. happy fishing :)

PS does a mod fancy moving this thread into cryptozoology, where perhaps it should have been in the first place? Or should it be in Myths... Suggestions?
 

Ali_Strachan

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PS does a mod fancy moving this thread into cryptozoology, where perhaps it should have been in the first place? Or should it be in Myths... Suggestions?

'tis done
 

dot23

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cheers Al - btw I just edited my last post and the pictures have become links - is this to do with it moving forums?
 

IneffableOgre

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I am nearly sure it is indeed an oarfish, but that isn't my major contribution to this thread. What gets me is the picture of the so called fosilized crest of a Paya Naga- I do know what that is. I work at the local Zoo, and we have something we use in education shows that is identical to it. The "crest" is (drumroll please)......an elephant tooth.
 
A

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payanagafire3.jpg
The beast, with a head of dragon-like features and a body of 7.80 meters long was taken from the Mekong by electric fishing. It was sent to America for investigation but unfortunately did not survive. Nevertheless, it was authenticated simply by its capture by the American servicemen. The experts at an American Piscatorial society examined it meticulously and found: -

1: That this was a unique creature not seen or captured before.

2: That it was a creature of the river and not from the sea.

3: That it had green blood.
That photo is very definitely an oarfish. I also doubt that it was even taken in the location it is claimed that it was. I think this article is largely made up.
 

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
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Saturday December 25, 2004

Thailand's Nessie

BY FOONG THIM LENG

THE story of Paya Naga, a legendary, serpentine monster, is often told in Nong Khai, Thailand. It is the local equivalent of Scotland’s Loch Ness monster, and every year, thousands of people gather on the banks of the Mekong in Nong Khai, north-eastern Thailand, as well as across the river in Laos, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Paya Naga.

The Thais and Laotians celebrate the Buddhist Lent on a separate date once in three years. 2004 was such a year, and so the event known as the Bung Fai Phaya Naga (or the King of Naga Fireballs) was celebrated this year on Oct 27 in Laos and on Oct 28 on the Thai side.

Every year the occasion is marked with the launching of boats illuminated with thousands of candles on the river. It is said that during this time of rejoicing the mythical naga would emerge via subterranean caverns in the river to join in the celebrations that commemorate the homecoming of Lord Buddha.

The story goes that Lord Buddha ascended to the Heavens to offer sermons to his mother during what would later become the beginning of the Buddhist Lent, returning to earth later when he was done.

So on Oct 28, I joined a group of friends on the banks of the Mekong River, in a village named Ban Ta Muang in Nong Khai, half expecting to catch sight of the mythical monster so widely depicted in motifs in places as diverse as temples and hotels, palaces and offices.

We had heard on television earlier that 400,000 people had poured into Nong Khai the day before for the festival. Not wanting to be squeezed out of a good vantage point, we arrived as early as 3pm to stake a claim at the location of our choice. This was despite the fact that the naga was not expected to start shooting any fireballs until six in the evening.

Our viewing site was a stretch of concrete steps in front of a restaurant. A plastic mat had been placed on the steps to mark it as taken. I learnt later that the guide had paid the restaurant owner 500 Baht (about RM50) to book the place.

All along the road there were hawker stalls selling barbecued fish and prawns, skewered chicken, sausages and dried squid. Another group had booked tables by the riverbank for dinner and rounds of Singha beer as they awaited the fireballs.

When the first fireball went shooting into the sky at 6.40pm, euphoria broke out. Unfortunately, I missed it completely as I was lost in my own thoughts and was beginning to doubt the whole thing. Sitting on the hard concrete steps which had been heated up for hours by the afternoon sun did not help my concentration either.

There was nothing for it but to wait for the next “magical sight”.

From where we sat we could hear voices and songs coming over the river from the Laotian side, adding to the din of Thai pop songs blaring from the roadside stalls on our side. Little ferries ran back and forth between the two countries.

On the river, many wooden boats shaped like Thailand’s traditional royal barges were adorned with thousands of tiny candles while fireworks lit up the sky on both sides. Suddenly, a red ball of light the size of a tennis ball rose vertically about 50m for some three seconds. This had the crowds roaring in jubilation.

Then another fireball shot into the sky but the cheers turned to jeers as it began to fall back to earth, indicating that it was just a rocket. By the time the sixth fireball rose from the middle of the river directly in front of me, all the cynicism in me had been dispelled. I got on my feet and cheered along with the crowd.

Our group counted 15 fireballs by 11pm, after which we broke away from the crowds to avoid the massive traffic jam that would surely ensue on the highway.

Scientists on both sides of the border claim that the Naga fireballs are globules of methane and nitrogen created by decomposing organic matter trapped deep beneath the Mekong. When the balls break the water’s surface, they self-combust and remain alight until they eventually run out of fuel and fade. This, they said, happens on the day when the sun is nearest to Earth.

The findings have, naturally, been disputed by Nong Khai residents who see it as an attempt to discredit their miraculous tradition and portray them as superstitious country bumpkins.

Among questions the residents ask are: Why are the fireballs seen rising only from the Mekong River in Nong Khai? Why do the fireballs come out as balls and not as random plumes of gas? How can decomposed matter become trapped in a flowing river?

Source
 

MrRING

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THIS ARTICLE seems to indicate that the Naga are from India...
Indian Snake-Worship Cult
Takes On World Bank
Dateline: New Delhi, 1/8/03

A strange new war has broken out in the remote Himalayan statelet of Nagapur, pitting ancient Serpent Deities against the global bureaucrats of the World Bank.

Not to be confused with Nagaland, Nagapur is a small “princely state” in the Himalayan foothills between Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. Its highest peaks get winter snow, its lowest plains join the heatchoked tiger-and-orchid jungles of the Terai, but all within a hundred-odd square miles.

Nagapur was mentioned in the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata as one of the “cities” of the Nagas or semi-divine were-snakes. Nagapur is still noted for its tantrik snake temples, some of them decorated in medieval Nepalese style with “obscene” carved wood sculpture. The former ruling family claimed descent from an ancestral cobra, the Sheesh Nang.

The Ahirajahs of Nagapur maintained a degree of independence under the Moghuls, then under the British Raj, but the Indian government abolished their “Purse” in 1957. At present several rival branches of the family claim Pretender status, but all are reduced to genteel poverty at best. Until recently their political significance was nil.

So, are these Nagas related to the ones in Thailand?
 

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 is the excerpt most relevant to the cryptozoological Naga ...


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.

As cryptozoologists, we at the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are frequently contacted by researchers from TV companies wanting to make monster-related programmes. While many of these projects come to nothing, a call from Bang Productions, who were working on a Discovery Channel series called Mysteries of Asia, led to my boarding a flight to Thailand in October 2000 to go in search of the legendary monster of the Mekong river, the naga.

The naga is essentially a gigantic snake, usually found in Hindu and Buddhist mythology rather than in present-day Thailand. It is supposed to bear an erectile crest on its head – rather like that of a cockatoo, but made of scales – which it holds menacingly aloft when angry, just as a cobra opens its hood.

According to Buddhist scriptures, the naga is dangerous and can kill by biting and injecting its venom; by spitting venom (again, like certain species of cobra) and thus paralysing its victim; by constriction with its powerful coils; and by the power of its baleful glare, much like the basilisk of mediæval Europe and the Middle East.

Legend says the nagas possess immense intelligence and magical power. They can, for instance, transform themselves into humans and walk unnoticed in the world of men. It was believed they inhabited grand underwater palaces, rather like the dragons of China. Unfortunately for folklorists of the Michael Meurger school, the naga is not satisfied with being a legend and still rears its scaly head, being sighted up and down the Mekong river even today. ...

Additional excerpts relating to the Naga Fireballs phenomenon are quoted in the thread dedicated to that phenomenon:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/the-naga-fireballs-mekong-river-lights.65044/




index.php

 
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AlchoPwn

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In the meantime, I thought I'd bring this photograph and this web site to people's attention - specifically the author of the original piece (who's name I've forgotten - sorry).

Followed the link to what appeared to be a casino page for a hotel pantawee (complete with a picture of a racy showgirl pinching her tit. Was she the naga?). Couldn't get the page to translate so I went searching. Is this the picture in question dot23?: http://www.samuitimes.com/famous-queen-nagas-photo-hoax/
As to whether the lights on the Mekong are swamp gas or serpent eggs, let's compromise and call them na-gas. :rim:

Here is another article link to the world bank vs snake cult:
https://redice.tv/news/indian-snake-worship-cult-takes-on-world-bank

I own a book regarding the legends of the Shaolin Monastery which features a story about a pair of young monks who encountered an immense black snake in a ruined off-limits tower on monastery grounds that was described as a naga. Apparently it could generate a vortex by inhaling and the monks barely escaped. An odd addition among stories that were generally less than outrageous.

I am inclined to view naga legends as a form of totemic worship in SE Asia, but no doubt David Icke cultists will have a different opinion.
 

EnolaGaia

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As far as I can tell - yes. The photo, alleged to date from the early 1970's, is of US Navy personnel in California holding an oarfish. My understanding is that this photo (or another one of the same California incident) is the one to which dot23 referred.

The photo purportedly turned out to date only as far back as 1996.
 

EnolaGaia

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For the sake of completeness, here's the 1996(?) photo ...

naga.jpg

 
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EnolaGaia

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Followed the link to what appeared to be a casino page for a hotel pantawee (complete with a picture of a racy showgirl pinching her tit. Was she the naga?). ...

The Hotel Pantawee webpage dot23 originally linked is long gone, but its text can be accessed via the Wayback Machine. (Link to full webpage archive below)

The hotel webpage (as of 2003) provided the following summary description of the legend(s) ...

The Legend of the Bang fai Paya Naga

Monster or Myth?


Nongkhai is one of Thailand's northeastern provinces bordering Laos, the border running 320 kilometers along the Mekong River.

Embedded in the folklore and Buddhist way of life is the King of the Nagas, a serpent-like creature, who is reputed to reside deep beneath the Mekong River in an underwater city, the Muang Badan.

Everything in their daily lives, from house building to the running of their schools, factories and hotels is influenced by their belief in the Paya Naga and its supernatural powers.

The people of Isan and their Laos neighbours on the opposite banks of the Mekong are closely related - so too are their beliefs in the Paya Naga and the mysterious Bang fai (fireballs) that appear every year from beneath the waters of the Mekong on the last day of the Buddhist lent in October.


The Legend Explained.

Pra Kru Udom Phisaikanarak, the head monk of Wat Chomthong and Phon Phisai District Head monk (Cha Kana Amphoe)paya naga fire balls explained the history and legend of the Bang fai Paya Naga - the natural and unexplained phenomenon of the fireballs coming from beneath the waters of the Mekong River.

On the last day of the Buddhist Lent the people of each village located near the river at Amphoe Phon Phi-sai floated their fire-boats as a mark of respect and tribute to the Lord Buddha.

They then placed torches made of a substance of insect waste collected from trees on their 20 - 30 meters long bamboo boats to illuminate them.

The people all gathered together at the harbour (Tha Nam) in front of Wat Phadung Suk Nue, Once everything was ready they lit up their torches and launched their boats.

In order to make their boats look more spectacular some team members fired small Bang fai (rockets) and the circular Bang fai known as talai into the sky. It was then that a curious and so far unexplained phenomenon occurred - some Bang fai were fired as if from under the water, as if the Paya Nagas wanted to participate in the event. This was hundreds of years ago and the phenomenon has occurred every year since.

This story has been passed down from generation after generation from father to son as witness of these natural phenomena. It is as mysterious as it is spectacular and the only place in the World where such a thing happens is Nongkhai.

It is also said that it is not only beneath the river that the underwater town or city exists. The Muang Badan as it is known is said to run throughout the whole geographical area of Nongkhai Province - the home of the Paya Nagas.

It is also believed that during the three month Buddhist Lent period was when the Buddha went up to the heavens to preach to his mother. On the last day of lent he visited our world. On this occasion the people show him their highest respect and hold such celebrations all along the Mekong and particularly in the area of Nongkhai Province where the Paya Nagas reside. This is the area where the Bang fai of the Paya Nagas appear.

The Full Moon of the eleventh Lunar Month in 2003 will be on October 10th


The Bang fai Paya Nagas

The King of the Nagas Fireballs are a natural, unexplained phenomena. There have been no extensive studies or research done which have either proved or disproved such phenomena. The fireballs shoot up from beneath the flowing waters of the Mekong River, red and pink in colour, climb into the air some ten to fifty meters high before disappearing without noise or smoke. It is a truly strange and inexplicable sight but beautiful and wonderful to see.

The red and pink fireballs are believed to come from the underwater city of Muang Badan, sent by the King of the Nagas to celebrate the last day of the three-month long Buddhist lent. They appear from both sides of the river, Thai and Laos at random, sometimes near to the shore or sometimes in the middle of the river. Their supernatural appearance is unlike anything that could be man-made.

The times for them to appear are from 6 p.m. to 2.a.m. on the night of the full moon of the 11th lunar month. The total number of fireballs appearing is unpredictable - sometime only fifty but more often than not one hundred to a thousand or more.

SALVAGED FROM: https://web.archive.org/web/20030604115341/http://www.hotelpantawee.com/payanaga.html
 

oldrover

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As far as I can tell - yes. The photo, alleged to date from the early 1970's, is of US Navy personnel in California holding an oarfish. My understanding is that this photo (or another one of the same California incident) is the one to which dot23 referred.

The photo purportedly turned out to date only as far back as 1996.

As far as I recall, wasn't this once said to have been taken during the Vietnam war?
 

EnolaGaia

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As far as I recall, wasn't this once said to have been taken during the Vietnam war?

Yes ... Some have(mis-)characterized it as a photo of US SEALs or other military personnel with a creature taken from the Mekong River during the Vietnam War.

I don't know where or when this 'Nam era hoaxing started. All references to it I've seen refer backward in time and don't identify any original source.
 

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Yes ... Some have(mis-)characterized it as a photo of US SEALs or other military personnel with a creature taken from the Mekong River during the Vietnam War.

I don't know where or when this 'Nam era hoaxing started. All references to it I've seen refer backward in time and don't identify any original source.
That does look like an oarfish. A big one, too.
 

James_H

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I think the Naga is best understood as a mythical creature, akin to the Chinese dragon. In fact the Naga in yunnan's lake erhai became a Chinese dragon as the area became sinicized.

If you're looking for an actual creature in the Mekong, why not a Mekong catfish? Those things are HUGE.
 

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A couple of videos on the Naga fireballs. Whatever it is, it's a peculiar phenomenon.


 

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The ones i saw back in 2000 looked like flares sent off from the opposite bank of the river and nothing more.
 

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The full write up of the 2000 CFZ expedition (my very first one!). http://www.cfz.org.uk/expeditions/00naga/naga1.htm

As Britain's only full time cryptozoologists we at the CFZ are frequently contacted by researchers from TV companies wanting to make monster related programmes. We are habitually visited by bright eyed young media things, who get incredibly excited and tell us that our ideas would make excellent documentaries. They then invariably, disappear for good. In the worst cases we find our ideas stolen and bastardised by people who know nothing about the subject.
Therefore when we were contacted by a company called Bang Productions in July of 2000 we did not hold any great expectations. We were visited by an outlandishly beautiful half-Japanese girl called Manami Szymko who had come all the way from Hong Kong (where the company was based) to interview us as possible presenters on a Discovery Channel project called Mysteries of Asia. In particular she was interested in the Naga, a gigantic legendary snake reputed to inhabit the Mekong river. Other episodes will feature the yeti, ghost hunters in the Philippines, Indian holy men with healing powers, the supposed undersea city off Japan, and UFOs in China.

Manami interviewed me at length about the monster and filmed a screen test. She met all our exotic pets and then vanished and we never expected to hear from her again. That was in July 2000. Imagine then, gentle reader, your humble narrator's surprise when a young lady, Sandra Egart from the aforementioned company, called in early October asking if I could join them in Thailand in a handful of days' time.



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The next few days were a blur of injections, and procurement of tropical accoutrements. Then all of a sudden I was thousands of feet over Asia on my way to Boy's Own (the 1920s comic, not the limp-wristed "boy" band) style adventures.
It may be prudent at this point to give background on the naga itself. Nagas are gigantic snakes found in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. They bare an erectile crest upon the head like that of a cockatoo but consisting of scales. The naga holds this aloft when angry rather like a cobra opens its hood. According to Buddhist scriptures the naga can kill in four ways. Firstly by biting and injecting its venom. Secondly by spitting like certain species of cobra. In this case the venom has a paralysing effect causing the victim to become as stiff as a statue in death. Thirdly by constriction with its powerful coils. And fourthly by its baleful glare, much like the basilisk of medieval Europe and the Middle East.
According to legend nagas have immense intelligence and magickal power. They could transform themselves into humans and walk un-noticed in the world of men. It was believed they inhabited grand underwater palaces rather like the dragons of China. Unfortunately for folklorists of the Michael Meurger ilk the naga is not satisfied with being a legend and still rears its scaly head today.



The flight from England via Amsterdam took an uncomfortable ten hours but finally I arrived in Bangkok.


I was met at the airport by Sandra the production assistant who had contacted me earlier and Peter Daniel the producer. I was surprised at their youth, having expected middle-aged people. Sandra, a former model, was of a particularly striking beauty.

I had been told that due to budget restrictions we were staying in a cheap hotel. "Cheap hotel" seems to have a different meaning in Thailand. The Amari Atrium in which we stayed whilst in Bangkok was by far the finest hotel I have ever had the pleasure of patronising. This begs the question of what an expensive hotel would be like.

Presently we were joined by the other members of our crew. The researcher and interpreter Athihan Srivetbodee, or "Bob" for short, who also worked for a charity protecting captive elephants. The camera man was Derek Williams who in a thirty year career had covered just about every event of importance in Indo-China. His mother has been badgering him to write his autobiography for years. I for one would love to read it. He was ably assisted by his soundman, Somyot Pisapark who had accompanied him on numerous previous adventures. Somyot was a dedicated man. Halfway through our filming schedule he was told his wife had developed throat cancer but he continued all the same.

Bangkok is a strange city. It bares an uncanny resemblance to Birmingham. It even has an office block shaped like Birmingham's famous Rotunda. Gaining planning permission in Bangkok is as easy as fancying Kim Director. So buildings spring up like fungi. So fast do they get built that often times some small things like foundations or strengthening rods are forgotten and the building is abandoned. Unlike Birmingham however one often comes across an elephant wandering nonchalantly down the street or rooting through a bin outside a bakery!

Later that evening I was shown some film of the giant Mekong catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) This animal is the largest (in terms of bulk) freshwater fish in the world and has been mooted as an explanation for the naga. The sequence showed four men catching an eight foot specimen. The silvery grey fish is of massive bulk and has bizarrely situated eyes, very low on the head. The men manually stimulated the fish's cloaca to collect its milt to use in captive breeding programmes. Strange to think I had travelled all the way to Thailand to watch film of a fish being masturbated!

The day after my arrival we visited Samutprakarn crocodile farm , home to the largest crocodile in captivity a 20 foot indo-pacific, Siamese cross named Yai. Yai in Thai means big , what a lot of thought went into his naming! Yai was sharing a network of pools with around 100 other crocodiles. Conveniently for us he was in a small shallow pool that allowed me to walk up and down his entire length and confirm his size.

The keepers swore that Yai was the largest crocodile on the farm, but out in the main lake I saw a number that appeared to be several feet longer. Two specimens looked around 23 feet and a huge individual appeared to be around 25 feet. This latter giant stayed in the centre of the large pool and would not be tempted closer to the bank. He showed only the end of his huge jaws and a portion of his scuted, treetrunk like tail. Ergo an accurate measurement could not be made.



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I had a theory that the Mekong monster could be a large (30 foot+) indo-pacific crocodile (C. porosus). I later abandoned that idea after hearing eye-witness accounts but this gave me a chance to view my favourite creatures closer up than ever. The crew had me talk about crocs and the titanic sizes they can reach whilst filming me infront of the pool. Then the gates were opened and I was presented with several buckets of chicken carcasses. "You lean through and feed them . We'll film you from over here," they said.

My days as a zookeeper taught me that captive crocodiles are much more interested in eating the food a keeper presents them with than the keeper himself. Yai was not hungry but several of his comrades came whizzing in like Polaris missiles with bear traps attached to them. I must admit to enjoying feeding them immensely and became nostalgic for my years as a zoo keeper.

Samutprakarn would not past muster for a zoo in the west. Its promotional material pushes the conservation angle but by cross breeding (the Indo-pacific's huge size and fast growth with the Siamese's less aggressive nature being the 'ideal mix' for skin farming) the gene pools both species are being diluted. The Siamese crocodile (C.siamensis) was until recently believed to be extinct in the wild but thankfully they seemed to have survived unscathed in Cambodia where they were rediscovered only this year!

Elsewhere at Samutprakarn were tigers attached to four foot chains that visitors could be photographed with. The docile creatures appeared to have been doped. Baby orang-utans were paraded in dresses for the same purposes.



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This day seemed to be one for appalling zoos because in the afternoon we visited Pata zoo in downtown Bangkok. Believe it or not this zoo is situated atop a department store. One of the floors houses a reptile collection that is not badly maintained. Also here they had a preserved specimen of a creature I had only ever read about in Karl Shuker's "Lost Ark", the giant freshwater stingray (Himantura chaophraya). Only discovered in 1987 this fish is a monster in every sense of the word.
The nearest description of this piscine titan I can give is an organic flying saucer! Greeny grey in colour its flattened body disc measures some seven feet by six and a half feet, big enough to cover a double bed. Its eyes were tiny like those of the Mekong catfish with whom it shares its habitat. These bottom feeders must rely on touch, scent and electro-reception in the Mekong's muddy waters.
 

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On the roof of the building the mammals and birds are kept in truly appalling conditions. I am an ardent supporter of responsible zoos with good breeding programmes - they are vital to save many endangered species. But slapdash holes like Pata zoo belong in the dark ages. Here gorillas, tigers, leopards, orang-utans, and pigmy hippos were kept in enclosures the size of the average living room. Worst were the bears. Three sun bears and an Asian black bear in a bare concrete enclosure with no den or climbing facilities. It could not have been more than ten feet square.


A woman was selling cakes to feed to them so their existence was nothing more than sleeping and begging. Ironically the zoo had some rare animals hardly ever seen in British zoos such as umbrella birds, Burmese ferret badgers, and yellow martins. These were totally wasted as exhibits in such a vile excuse for a zoo.

We were meant to be interviewing the director of Pata zoo who had taken some film of an alleged naga swimming in the Mekong. However he had fallen over and banged his head. He was in critical condition in hospital at the time. It seems karma really works! Instead we talked to a Dr Apicsart who was a fish expert not connected to the zoo. Dr Apicsart had spent many years on board Japanese trawlers studying rare fish often from the deep seas. He was sceptical about the naga believing witnesses had seen shoaling fish. As I was to later find out this explanation did not stand up to scrutiny.

The following day we left Bangkok and flew north to Udon Thani in the north of the country that would be our base of operations for the rest of the expedition. We were met at the airport by the other main player in the adventure Pongpol Adireksarn better known in the west under his pen name Paul Adirex. A best selling author both in east and west he specialises in action thrillers and has penned four best sellers one of which "Mekong" features nagas in which he firmly believes.

As well as this Pongpol is the campaign manager of the opposition party in Thailand. Charming and witty he was a joy to work with. When I asked him if his politics were left or right he answered, "In Thai politics there is no left or right, just right and wrong!"

In Udon Thani we checked into our hotel and were met by a some of Pongpol's friends and assistants including a friendly and enthusiastic young man called Pracha Manakarn - or "Pang" to his friends. Pang owned a pub in Udon Thani and wanted to become a tourist guide. I never did find out exactly what he did for Pongpol but he proved to be an excellent companion and addition to the team.

That evening a banquet in Pongpol's honour was held at a local restaurant. He seemed to be a very well liked man (unlike most western politicians) and a local celebrity. It was here that I ate Mekong catfish soup. I'm not a great lover of fish (as food that is) but the Mekong catfish had some of the most delicious flesh I have ever eaten. If you can imagine the most succulent melt in the mouth fish mixed with Parma violets you might get some idea.

The following day we drove to a statue garden. Here gigantic statues some 150 feet or more tall stand surrounded by jungle. One could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a lost city of the H. Rider-Haggard kind but the statues are only about 20 years old.

They depicted mainly religious characters. Thailand is a Buddhist country but their Buddhism is singular in that it has been heavily influenced by Hinduism. Hence alongside sculptures of the Lord Buddha gods such as Kali, Ganeesh, and Hanuman are found. This is an important factor that I shall return to later.

There were several massive statues of nagas including the multi-headed naga king shading Buddha as he meditates.

As well as the naga, other Thai monsters were present. The garuda is a creature half bird half man, who is said to bring the rains on his wings. There is also a magickal golden lion. All three live together in a mystic jungle. So we have a giant water serpent, a bird man, and a mystery big cat in the same country. Sound familiar?



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It seems there are universal templates for monsters. One could just as easily be talking about Morgawr, Owlman, and the Beast of Bodmin.

Later in the town of Nongkhai we spoke to Malinee Phisaphan an old lady who had seen a naga five years earlier. Malinee ran an antique stamp shop and a cyber cafe!



She was highly intelligent and read, wrote, and spoke perfect English. She and a friend had been riding through town on a bus when they passed by a bridge.
Both of them saw a huge black snake in the water beneath the bridge. Malinee described it as around seventeen feet long and as thick about as a football (that is an English football). It could have been a large python but it would have had to have been melanistic. The next day was an important one. The naga mystery has been mixed up with several other mysteries in its complicated folklore. One of these is the naga fireballs.
On October 13th every year balls of red light are seen shooting out of the Mekong river. Locals believe these to be the breath of the naga and to herald the end of the rainy season. Huge crowds are drawn to celebrate and view the phenomena from the banks of the Mekong river.
The Fortean in me noted the balls of blue light associated with giant snakes in the Amazon and believed to be their bioluminescent eyes. I also thought of earth lights often reported over water. Perhaps two Fortean phenomena were occurring here side by side.

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In the daytime, before the nocturnal lights appeared, a huge parade was run. This included hundreds of people in traditional dress, bands, and floats holding images of the naga. It ended with a temple made entirely from bamboo leaves being floated upon the river.



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I am a zoologist but I am also a pagan, a practising magician, and a believer in magick. I had prepared my own offering for the naga that I had brought all the way from England. It consisted of a piece of jade (oriental dragons are fond of jade according to legend) incense, and a resin statue of a dragon.

I was planning to float this down the river as an offering. Unfortunately I had not realised the steepness of the bank or the thickness of the crowd that night and had to postpone my offering's launch.

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 phenomena 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 firstly in the singular the in twos, threes, and fours. Swiftly something dawned upon me, if this were a natural phenomena it would be occurring from the entire width of the river. All the lights were springing up from the far bank of the Mekong, i.e., the Laotian side. Also they were all coming from areas were lamps were visible and presumably people were present. They also look very orchestrated. The fabled naga fireballs seemed to be nothing more than fireworks, the relatively noiseless kind that fade away rather than exploding, much like maritime distress flares. I mentioned this to some of my Thai companions, who said they couldn't possibly be fireworks because they were silent and faded rather than exploding!



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You have doubtless heard of the Loch Ness "hoodoo", the ill luck that befalls those trying to photograph the monster. Cameras jam or are forgotten, or something else happens at the crucial moment the hamper the picture. Well I suffered from Mekong hoodoo. Earlier that day I had checked the charge on the batteries of my video camera. They said I had over an hour of film left.

When I tried to film the festival the camera gave out halfway through the pre-fireball parade (but if you're here who is grooming the nagas ready for the naga parade?). Hence I had to rely on a stills camera.

A couple of days later as I tried to rewind, the back opened and all the film spooled out. I wouldn't read too much into this as I am the most cack-handed and incompetent technophobe you are ever likely to meet. So the fireballs bit the dust. I was satisfied that the Laotians were having a good chuckle at their friends across the river. But there were other riddles waiting for my attention. The next day we visited the village of Phon Pisai were Pongpol interviewed a Buddhist abbot (who bore an uncanny resemblance to the late Brian Glover) and his monks about a strange naga encounter. The temple was the most spectacular building in the village, adorned with dragons and nagas.

Eight years ago there was an old temple were the fine new one stands. The ancient, tumbledown erection had become unsightly and dangerous so it was decided to pull it down and build a new one. But when ever work men approached a huge black snake would appear and rear up striking at them.

Workmen, monks, and abbot all saw it. It was very thick but they could not estimate the length as the creature never revealed its whole body but kept most of its coils in the building. Final an offering was given to the monster and it disappeared overnight.



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Back in Nong Khai we interviewed a Dr Manus. He had a theory on the fireballs. According to him on October the 13th the Earth is in such an alignment with the Sun that the solar waves are at a certain length that in some way effects gas molecules in the river and energises them into fireballs. He had some gizmo for reading gaseous emissions and showed us that around the 13th and a couple of days either side the emissions rose. I'm no physicist but all this sounded a little dodgy to me. As it turned out Dr Manus was no physicist either, he was a paediatrician! He gave me the address of his website but I lost it on my way home and have not been able to locate his site on the net. If any readers have better luck please let me know.

The following day we were back in Phon Pisai to interview another witness. Officer Suphat is chief of police in Phon Piasi. Three years ago he and a group of thirty people had been walking on some cliffs overlooking the Mekong.



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They had seen what at first they believed to be flotsam floating along in the river. As it drew closer they became aware that it was moving against the current.

Looking down they saw a gigantic black snake swimming with a horizontal flexation (indicative of a fish, amphibian, or reptile).

I asked Officer Suphat how long the monster was. His answer staggered me, seventy metres! I double checked thinking there had been a mistranslation but he clarified seventy metres or two hundred and thirty feet. A monster of truly Toho studios dimensions.

The crowd watched as the naga swam by then were overcome by fear and fled. He later asked a Buddhist monk about his sighting. The holy man confirmed what he had seen was a naga. He explained that some years ago a statue of Buddha was being transported by boat across the river. The boat capsized and the statue fell to the river bed. Since then nagas have come to protect it.

The officer's monster seems excessively long. I think what he may have seen were several nagas swimming in line, perhaps males in pursuit of a female much as the "Migo" footage from New Britain shows two crocodiles swimming in single file. Alternatively it could have been a long wake that made and already huge serpent seem even longer.

Another enigma awaited me in Phon Pisai, one that excited me as a zoologist. The bones of an actual naga were said to be kept as holy relics in the village! A strange story was attached to them. Their current owner had a dream in which he was visited by a naga. The serpent told him to cross the bridge into Laos were he would meet a man who owned naga bones. He was told to buy the bones. Duly the man crossed the bridge the next day and met the bone owner. But the Laotian refused to sell the bones and the Thai returned empty handed. Next night the naga came to his dreams again and told the man to return and ask the Laotian if he would sell half the naga bones. Once more the bone`s owner refused and the man came home with nothing. One final time the serpent entered the man`s sleeping mind and told him to try once more and that the Laotian would relent. The man crossed the bridge a third time and indeed the other conceded and sold him the bones.

This aside I was excited at the prospect of laying my hands on real physical evidence of the creature. We were told that the owner did not want to be filmed and would not let us take the bones away for DNA analysis as I had wanted. However we were allowed to film and touch them. I was confident about being able to identify snake bones and hoped we had stumbled across evidence of a titanic new species. The bones were brought to the police station and kept under lock and key until we arrive. They were brought out in a silver chalice. We waited with baited breath as the lid was removed to reveal a sodding elephant`s tooth! Quite how, in a country so jam packed with pachyderms anyone could mistake an elephant's tooth for anything else is beyond your humble narrator. Another mystery shot down in flames.
 

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My final full day in Thailand turned out to be the most exciting and fruitful. We drove for hours north along dirt tracks in the jungle then trekked on foot to an extremely remote village in the forested hills. I don't even know if this place has a name, I never found out. As Randi from It Ain't Half Hot Mum said it's the back of beyond and then some. Our witness was a sprightly old man of about seventy called Mr Pimpa.


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He had a frighteningly close encounter with a naga in some little known caves in the area. After filming and interviewing Mr Pimpa he offered to take us underground to the naga's lair. We were led to a small cave mouth in a hillside hidden by the verdant morass. It did not look like much but Mr Pimpa told us that it led to a network of caves that stretched for some ten miles beneath the hills and connected with the Mekong. Like a guardian a strangely flattened and cryptically coloured spider four inches across lurked on the lichen at the cave mouth.



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The camera crew filmed the entrance and Peter the producer followed Mr Pimpa, Pang, and myself into the first cave. Roughly fifteen feet square and four feet high it did not look like much but by flickering candle light our aged guide showed us a tiny triangular tunnel in one corner. Peter with his expensive hand held camera went no further and I left my bulky camera behind too as Pang and I followed Mr Pimpa.

The tunnel was half filled with water and so low one had to crouch. It led on for some forty feet into the main net work. It was as if we had entered the fevered mind of Clark Ashton Smith. These caves were by far the strangest and most alien place I have ever been in. Imagine a hybrid of the labyrinth of Sogo in "Barbarella" and the "Caves of Androzani" from the eponymous Dr Who adventure. Now shrink them. None of this honeycomb was more that four feet high. The dank, unwholesome passages were usually half that wide. Occasionally they widened out into spaces of fifteen feet. These were peopled with unearthly rock formations like giant coffins or Greek pillars. All were festooned with offerings of jasmine wreaths in honour of the great serpent.

On several occasions we had to cross icy subterranean rivers and navigate razor-sharp stalactites that hung like guillotines from the ceiling. When not crouched we were on all fours or slithering like worms on our bellies through the primal slime. No bats hung from the ceiling but I observed what looked like tiny glowing strings of pearls hanging from the cave ceiling. These were drops of luminous saliva suspended on strands of silk by carnivorous midge lava like ghoulish fishing rods. I have only heard about these from caves in New Zealand and never else were. Unfortunately I was not carrying a specimen jar (a near physical impossibility down there) so I could not collect any. Does anyone out there have any idea if this is a new species?

We travelled for about a mile until we came to the place Mr Pimpa had seen the monster some ten years ago. It was an elongate tubular cave. The old man had been exploring by candle light when he had turned into this cave and come across a giant snake. Its head was in the shadows but the visible portion of its body was sixty feet long. Mr Pimpa pressed himself back against the wall in terror as the giant reptile crawled by at an agonisingly slow pace. Its scales were black with a glossy green sheen and it was around two and a half to three feet thick. Finally it disappeared along the passage and Mr Pimpa collapsed gasping in relief. In the dark his had fell against a tiny semi-precious stone which he pocketed. Scrambling back out of the cave system he returned to the village and told his weird tale. He later had the stone mounted onto a serpent shaped ring which he showed to us. He believed that despite the fear he felt at the time the naga brought him luck.Prior to his adventure he was a poor man who could hardly afford to feed his family. After it he inherited some land and became a successful farmer. The caves were now considered sacred to the villagers.

Fortunately the resourceful Pang had a tiny pocket camera and took shots of me in the Naga cave. He is posting them on to me shortly.

He led us back along a different set of passages and I regretted not having brought a ball of twine. Suddenly daylight streamed in and I looked up to see a vertical shaft ten feet high with perpendicular slime covered walls. Mr Pimpa shot up it like a monkey but a portly clumsy cryptozoologist is not the most agile of creatures. After several attempts I was forced to climb up poor Pang like a living ladder and be dragged the rest of the way by our guide. We then pulled up trampled Pang and trekked back off through the jungle to our crew.

I was impressed by Mr Pimpa's testimony. He had nothing to gain from lying to us and was not paid for his story and seemed genuinely supprised that people from the outside world were interested. He was a very nice man who went out of his way to be helpful.

That night back in the hotel I was shown the film taken by the director of Pata zoo of the supposed naga swimming in the Mekong. Most film of cryptids is bad, fuzzy, pixelated, out of focus, but this took the biscuit. It was a wobbly badly filmed log being bobbed up and down by the current. Nothing more, nothing less.



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We had a goodbye drink at Pang's pub, "Made in Udon Thani". It's a great place with live bands beautiful bar maids, good food, and good beer. If you're ever in Udon Thani be sure to check it out and give Pang my regards.

The next day we flew back to Bangkok and awaited our transport home. Bob, Derek, and Somyot returned to there abodes in Thailand. Peter, Sandra, (who live in Hong Kong) and I waited for our planes. We had a drink with an old friend of Peter`s Mike Dyer, a computer programmer who married a beautiful Thai girl and lives in the country full time.

Sandra and Peter's flight was several hours before mine so Mike kindly stayed and downed several pitchers of beer with me whilst I waited for mine. He told me of the idyllic life he had led, living in a shack on a beach in southern Thailand with a lovely Thai girl selling tee-shirts to tourists, until they built a hotel over his shack. At the moment his wife is very ill with a respiratory disease caught from bat guano in some caves. My best wishes go out to both her and Somyot's wife.

I slept most of the flight back, and returned to cold, rain, and floods. After the laid back attitude of Thailand it was as if a tidal wave of woe had broken over my head. But forgetting my moanings for a moment what conclusions did I come to?

Firstly, the fireballs seem to be man made, possibly in order to attract custom to the area (stall holders really cleaned up on the 13th). Secondly, the naga bones were elephant teeth. Thirdly, the naga film was a floating log in the Frank Searle mould.

But one mystery remains unbowed, the naga itself. The witnesses seem to fall into two categories, those who saw something in the river and those who saw something on land. Both however have mystic overtones e.g serpents guarding temples and statures or bringing good look.

Do you remember me telling you about the Hindu influence on Thai Buddhism? Well this I think is the key. Nagas originated in Indian legend and were brought down into Indo-China. I think all of the mystical elements of the original legendary naga have been grafted onto a real animal, something that has always inhabited the Mekong. But what is it?

There were once a group of snakes that did reach immense sizes. These were the Madtsoids, They first evolved in the Cretaceous period and were found world wide. At first believed to be giant Boids it is now known that they were a primitive basal group of snakes. These were highly successful for such archaic beasts and flourished in some cases, such as the Australian Wonambi until the end of the Pleistocene epoch only ten thousand years ago. Some species dwarf today`s anaconda. A vertebra from South America indicates a sixty foot snake as thick about as an oil drum. Primarily aquatic it is believed they were live bearers.

Reports from all over the tropics suggest that some species may have survived to the present day. As well as great size all these monsters snakes seem to have strange ornamentation on the head. The lau of the swamps of Sudan is said to have facial tentacles. The mano tauro or sucuriju gigante of the Amazon is believed to have horns, and Indo-China's naga has a crest. Horns are not unknown on snakes the rhinoceros viper of Africa and the horned viper of the middle east are just two. The horns are actually modified scales. Madtsoids killed their prey by constriction with huge muscular coils, so what of the nagas venom? Well, having both constriction and venom would be evolutionary overkill. As far as we know no Madtsoids were venomous. Perhaps this is a faucet of folklore, like the harmless salamanders of Europe which were supposed to be deadly poisonous.

So there you have it, my theory on the naga and giant snakes worldwide.

It is only a theory and will remain so until a well financed expedition with a lot of time makes a concerted effort to find a specimen. One last thing about these giant snakes, it makes you wonder about all the medieval legends of giant snakes in Britain, such as the Lampton worm and the Linton worm etc. Could there once have been a temperate hibernating species in Europe? Nah - that's just too fantastic... isn't it?
 

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Thanks for that voluminous and informative travel log Lordmongrove. I have a few of questions.

(1) Is there a solid reason you have dismissed the idea of naga being eels? Eels can travel a long way out of water, and often grow to phenomenal size, quite sufficient to kill and eat a sheep at a single sitting. I would not be at all surprised of some wyrms of dragon lore were actually wandering eels, so as naga are associated with waterways, could there be a crossover?

(2) Is there any connection between naga cryptids and the naga people of the naga hills on the Myanmar/India border?

(3) There is a bit of linguistic confusion over the word Naga. For example, naga refers to cobras in India (LINK) even though they are called "naja" within biological classification, but that appears to be a mistake of sorts. As naga stories emerge from Hindu and Buddhist culture in India, has something been missed in translation all along?
 

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An exemplary post. Thoughts, facts and observations. So good, I've read it three times already. I've been to the crocodile farm mentioned when I was younger and recall the tigers in cages doped for photos. The day I visited there was a young cigarette smoking chimp dressed in clothes & riding a tricycle who would also pose for pictures with women kissing them on the cheek.
Just horrendous as I look back.
 
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Lincolnshire UK
Thanks for that voluminous and informative travel log Lordmongrove. I have a few of questions.

(1) Is there a solid reason you have dismissed the idea of naga being eels? Eels can travel a long way out of water, and often grow to phenomenal size, quite sufficient to kill and eat a sheep at a single sitting. I would not be at all surprised of some wyrms of dragon lore were actually wandering eels, so as naga are associated with waterways, could there be a crossover?

As a former diver, I have seen many congers in the wild. A large female may be about 3 metres/10 feet long with a head similar in size to that of a Jack Russell terrier. I have also seen morays, most of which are smaller. The largest recognised species of eel are the giant moray and the longer but thinner slender giant moray. These reach a known maximum length of just under 4 metres.

All of these are spectacular creatures and would give you a nasty bite.

I know that the common eel (a freshwater species) is known to travel across wet ground from one water course to another. Basic geometry says that this will be more difficult for a large specimen. Using a simple example, an eel twice as long has 4 times the cross section and 8 times the mass. As the eel gets longer, its oxygen demands increase proportionately to the cube of its length. The bigger an eel is, the harder it will be for it to move any significant distance across land.

I cannot see that any known species of eel would be able to kill and eat a sheep at a single sitting. If you have examples, I would genuinely (i.e. I am not being sarcastic) be interested to read of them.
 
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