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Naga serpent spits fireballs into the sky at this northern Thai festival

Naga fireballs Mekong sunset

Every year, thousands of pilgrims, tourists and spectators flock to the banks of the Mekong River in south east Asia to witness the phenomenon of bung fai paya nak, more commonly known as the Naga Fireballs or the Mekong Lights.

Around the night of Wan Ok Phansa (the last day of Buddhist Lent in late-October), balls of glowing orange light are said to ascend from the water’s depths into the sky, reaching altitudes of up to 200m before mysteriously vanishing.

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The locals are adamant that the spectacle is the work of Naga, the enigmatic sea creature who protects the waters.

Sceptics have suggested that the balls of light could be caused by Laotian soldiers on the other side of the Delta firing tracer rounds into the night sky. Such disbelievers claim that the sounds of the shots would be drowned out by the cheers of the crowd.

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Meanwhile, a complex scientific explanation has been sought involving the flammability of rising phosphine gas, accumulated in the marshy banks and released on the momentous evening.

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If you want to see the marvel for yourself and make up your own mind, you’ll just have to travel to northern Thailand to witness it.

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