Last weekend Emma and I joined our Thai friends in a quest to find some Naga fireballs-a phenomenon that occurs on the Mekong River once a year, every year, on the full moon in October that marks the end of Buddhist lent. During this night it is reported that hundreds of fireballs of various sizes rise up from the Mekong; some use science to explain it, many Thais believe it is the breath of the Naga, a serpent that lives in the Mekong and brings good luck.
Either way, we were keen to check it out, so Emma and I hopped in the back of a pickup truck with Bright (a student from our school who is also being tutored in English at Mundo Exchange) and P. Maew (who is also associated with Mundo) and made our way east about 23 km to wait along the river for the sun to set and the fireballs to rise.
The sun did set (as we ate a delicious dinner of fish, noodles, lemongrass and sauce wrapped in lettuce) but the fireballs did not rise. I was kind of ok with it, thinking that no one else was seeing them either, but then Bright’s dad called him and said from their position about an hour and a half west they were seeing about a hundred fireballs! After that call I was pretty gutted that our section of the river remained dismally dark. I think I may have to come back next year because now I really, really want to see them!
Our night, however, was not without entertainment. I was named Miss Universe by our rather drunk Thai friend, and Emma Miss Canada (she was later upgraded to “Miss the Moon” though, because she was beautiful as the moon). We were granted the opportunity to set off our own lucky lantern, sending our misfortune flying away with it as it floats silently upwards. Emma’s lantern tried to fly but instead fell haphazardly into the bushes along the riverbank, leaving me in tears of laughter as the men went to retrieve it and send it off again. So much for good luck…
I guess the Naga was too busy partying it up with the crowds farther west to come any farther down the river that night, so no fireballs for us. 😦 Maybe next year.
Correction: I did see one fireball, but this is a rather embarrassing admission on my part. Once we got home I was reading my book and decided to light a candle next to me. On my bed. The last thing I remember is looking at the candle and thinking it’s so…prettyyyy……. Next thing I know my eyes are fluttering open and there is a giant fireball in front of my face! No, the Naga was not bequeathing me luck. Yes, I lit my own bed on fire. Fortunately it was small enough to frantically wave, blow on, and pat out because that’s all I could manage in my panicked half conscious state. Now I understand why my mother never let me have candles…apparently I’m a bit of a hapless pyro.
Seriously I don’t even know what I was thinking.