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Naga Fireball Festival and a New Eco-Tourist Site in Nong Khai

October 16, 2013 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

Nong Khai province in northeastern Thailand will hold an interesting cultural event, the natural wonder of “Naga Fireballs,” locally known as Bang Fai Phaya Nak, from 16 to 22 October 2013. It is also developing Wang Bua Daeng in Mueang district as a new eco-tourist site.
13287101628pAbout 600 kilometers from Bangkok, Nong Khai is situated on the bank of the Mekong River, which stretches 4,200 kilometers through six countries, namely Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The highlight of the Naga Fireball Festival is on 19 October, Ok Phansa Day, the full-moon day of the eleventh lunar month. Every year, on the night of Ok Phansa, fireballs of various sizes burst from the bottom of the Mekong River, sprint above the water surface, and then move skyward before disappearing. This phenomenon takes place only once a year in October and can be seen from both the Thai and Lao sides. The festival is sometimes referred to as “Mekong lights.”

Local residents believe that the fireballs belong to the Naga, the king of serpents. This natural wonder is linked to a legend dating back to the Buddha’s times. It is said that the Buddha went to heaven to instruct his mother in his teachings. He spent three months there until his mother attained enlightenment. On the full-moon day of the eleventh lunar month, the Buddha returned to earth and celestial beings built a golden and silver staircase for him to come down. With his loving kindness, the Buddha created a miracle by opening a view of the three worlds, namely heaven, the earth, and the underworld. All nagas living in the underworld admired the Buddha for the gratitude he showed toward his mother, so they blew out flames from the bottom of the river to celebrate.

As part of the festival, the Nong Khai Municipality will also arrange a light and sound show on the legend of Naga fireballs, long-boat races, and illuminated boats in worship of the Naga. Although there are several viewpoints for watching the natural wonder of the Naga fireballs, a great number of fireballs are usually seen in Phon Phisai district, which will hold this festival from 19 to 27 October.

Phon Phisai district will also organize a food fair and boxing matches during the period. Home-stay accommodations have been prepared for visitors, as well. Nong Khai welcomed more than 325,000 tourists during the Naga Fireball Festival in 2012.

Concerning the development of Wang Bua Daeng in Mueang district as a new eco-tourist site, Nong Khai has formed a committee to look into this project. Wang Bua Daeng is a large red lotus lagoon, covering an area of 5,000 rai, or 2,000 acres, of land. The red lotus in this area is in full bloom in the cool season, usually between November and February each year.

A number of tourists have visited this new attraction, which is full with numerous species of aquatic animals and plants. Nong Khai wants to develop this eco-tourist site on a sustainable basis, with an emphasis on environmental preservation.

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