Mekong River and the phenomenon of Naga Fireballs in Nong Khai, Thailand

Talking about Thailand, people know it as the land of smile with a lot of variety for tourism. Most of travel magazines or social media channels nowadays have shown the colors of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui Island or Pattaya city but only rarely people talk about a small place like Nong Khai Province.

Nong Khai city is located in the northeastern part of Thailand. It lies along Mekong River and has the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge that connects to Laos on the other side of the river and from the bridge to Vientiane capital city of Laos just 25 kilometers.

People in Nong Khai still live by agriculture and there are not many western tourists around. Travel to Nong Khai between November and February is very comfortable. With cool air and a bit of cold it is just enough to wear a light jacket, as during this period there is no rain. Just take a simple room in front of Mekong River, get up early in the morning and enjoy the fresh air from the river breeze. Get out from the room to see Thais giving alms to the Buddhist monks. Afterward find a delicious breakfast from easy street foods or make use of the cozy restaurants located inside the hotels that serve western foods and welcome anyone, even if you are not guest in the hotel.

If you don’t like the heat, do not travel to Nong Khai Province from March to May – these are the hottest months of the year

From June to October is the time when rice farmers are overwhelmed with work. Life begins here with wet soil and rice planting in June. Rice sprouts start in a light green all around and they are getting greener until the precious flower finally starts to bloom and slowly forms the rice grain. From August until September then it turns into some yellow field and the rice seeds ripen to their size and this is also when the rainy season ends. Almost ready to harvest, now everywhere rice turns to golden yellow in just a few weeks. Harvest time starts in October and lasts until late November when the farmer sell the rice and keep some for themselves just enough to have food for the whole year. Then the farmers take a break and have some time to celebrate.

During the period from October to November there are many Buddhist festivals and local farmer festivals in almost every small village and towns

A special phenomenon of Nong Khai Province are the Naga Fireballs. Every year during the full moon night and one night after full moon in October, there are glowing balls that naturally rise from Mekong River high into the air before they disappear. However, this is a personal belief that cannot be scientifically proven even though the phenomenon Naga Fireballs have been spoken about prior to 1986 already.

In the month of November the Loy Krathong Festival takes place. It happens on full moon during November. People prepare a floating banana stem with banana leaves and put on some flowers, one or two candles and three incense sticks. This is known as the Krathong. People float or as the locals say “Loy Krathong” (the name could be translated as “to float a basket”) traditional made decorated baskets along the river for apologizing, thanking the god of the river and wishing to receive luck.

After a few months of the break some farmers that live along Mekong River come back to prepare the soil for growing new plants like tomatoes, chili, Tobacco, pineapple, different vegetables and of course rice again.

Travel to Thailand and try to visit Nong Khai sometime to see the Northeastern people and culture for an expanding picture of Thailand with some more new experiences!

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