Sighting at Nam Pae
A Naga was
sighted by crowds in the Mekong, about 40 km
East of Nong Khai on
September 20, 2006.
Photo 1. Locals
gather on the Southern bank of the Mekong, watching the
It was the afternoon of September 20, 2006. The day after the
September, 2006 military coup in Thailand. We received a phone call
saying that a Naga had been sighted in in the Mekong River on the edge
of Nam Pae, a small town about 40 km East of Nong Kai. People had been
traveling from around the area to see the Naga. "It's very visible!
Hurry! Come quick!"
Today had been declared a holiday by the junta, so the roads were
pretty clear. It seemed remarkable to me that I did not see one
policeman during the entire drive. Even the two semi-permanent
roadblocks we passed, which squeezed the main roads down to one lane in
each direction, were unmanned. As such, we made good time. The trip
from Udon Thani to Nam Pae took just a little over two hours.
As we crossed the bridge on Highway 212 that crossed over the small
river that formed the Eastern boundary of Nam Pae at about 15:30, a
seelor, packed with people turned off the road and headed east.
We turned left onto a small road that lead to the Mekong, being passed
by several vehicles carrying people away from the river.
It was late afternoon and the air was a little hazy. Dozens to hundreds
of people lined approximately 300 meters of riverbank. A vendor cooked
crapes under the umbrella on her cart. Another vendor sold soft drinks
from under a thatched roof. A lot of the people seemed happy and also
excited. Most focused their attention on the river. I walked along the
river bank until I reached the area with the most people, and then
stopped and looked out over the river.
Every now than then, sometimes at intervals of a minute, sometimes,
several minutes, a whorl would form from a ripple in the river, perhaps
caused by a rock under the surface of the water, and it would spin down
river. Whenever a particularly strong whorl, or ring shaped wave
appeared, people would chatter excitedly. The larger the whorl, the
louder the chatter.
Some people were sure they were seeing the Naga. This was an excellent
time for a Naga to appear. Thailand had just experienced its first coup
in 15 years. Okpansa, the end of Buddhist lent, and with it, the
annual display of Naga Eggs, was only weeks away. The air was hazy and
the whorls were forming 10 to 20 meters out in the river, so its was
not possible to see the whorls clearly. But that didn't stop people
from clearly seeing the Naga, even to the point of describing its
With the camera (A Sony 4.1 Megapixel Cybershot) zoomed in all the way,
I took several still photographs and some short videos, as offered
Photo 2. When seen through the
afternoon haze, an especially large ripple
elicited loud excited chatter from the crowd. Its clear how it could be
a serpent-like Naga just breaking the surface of the water, when seen
through the afternoon haze.
Photo 3. A complete whorl is near
the middle of this picture. Whorls such as this one could last up to a
and drift several meters before melting back into the river.
Photo 4. (MPEG video - 2 MB) This
woman (above) is showing the man next to her where
the Naga is. She was absolutely most enthusiastic observer I came
across. See how she
emphasized point to the man to her right. Click on
the image above to see the MPEG video.
I am trying not to make any conclusions here about whether or not a
Naga made an appearance that day, let alone whether or not Nagas exist.
I cannot say that I saw a Naga, though I will readily admit that I did
not expect to. It is clear to me that many people are convinced that
they did see a Naga, and for them, Nagas are as real as the sun in the
are my Postcards
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Last updated 24 September, 2006