October, 2002, from Nondu, Thailand
Looking for Naga Eggs
Last night was the last full moon of the rainy season. There have been
all kinds of celebrations around here. School is out and soon the rice
harvest will start, so people are blowing off steam before rolling up
Last night I went out to look at the Naga Eggs. Naga Eggs are
reportedly luminous balls of colored light that rise up out of a
stretch of the Mekong going from Nongkhai about 100 km East, into the
air, then disappear. Opinions are divided among those that think its a
natural phenomenon, those who think its something supernatural or
magical relating to the Nagas that figure prominently in Buddhist
folklore, and those who suspect it the work of people either playing a
prank or trying to boost tourism. People come into the area from all
over Thailand so be part of the experience of seeing them.
Its also a big event here among the locals. Reports had it yesterday
(October 20) that the towns along the Mekong river were mobbed. Traffic
jams paralyzed the streets and there were hardly places to stand, let
alone park a car or motorbike. Chances of making it to the Mekong
As evening drew on, I heard that some of the villagers were going to go
to a river near town -not the Mekong, but a large river that has Naga
Eggs. I'm not really sure whether the "river" is actually a river or a
lake. It was referred to as a river, but I had only seen it once and to
me it looked like a large lake. Its in an isolated part of the
countryside and the only access to it was a very poor dirt road that
ran along the side. There was very little traffic on the road the time
I was on it -only one or two other motorbikes, as I recall, and from
the appearance, the road hadn't been maintained for a number of years.
As dusk drew on, villagers (yours truly included) filled two pickup
trucks that had been waiting at the edge of the village. Maybe 20
villagers of all ages -mostly women and children dressed for the
warmish evening and palpably tingling with excitement that we were
going to see something significant, whatever it was.
As the trucks forged across the countryside toward the river, the
sunlight grew faint and I became aware of lightning constantly flashing
all over the clouded surrounding skies. Great fingers of lightning
traced kilometers horizontally, describing gigantic semicircles seeming
to surround us. The scene became even more remarkable as the last bits
of sunlight disappeared and the lightning appeared even brighter as it
continuously and incessantly flashed several times a second, bright
enough to read by. It was almost as if the sun was flickering
intermittently. I had never seen anything quite like this before and it
was both awesome and spooky at the same time.
The tucks lumbered slowly down the very poor and bumpy dirt road along
the river -slowly so as not to toss out any of us riding in the back.
As we reached about midway between the two highways that the road
connected, the truck I was riding in suddenly stopped and everybody
started chattering excitedly (in Thai) and pointing out into the river.
"There were four of them!" The passengers in the cab and the driver
jumped out and stood on the riverbank, staring intently across the
river. "Did you see that?" exclaimed the driver. "No." "Look over
there!" I stared into the darkness down the river a little ways. It was
hard to tell if there was anything shooting out of the water because of
the constant lightning flashes all around.
The second truck had stopped behind us and everyone stood on the
riverbank scanning for Naga Eggs, the scene still eerily lit by the
lightning. A moment later the crowd let out a collective
"Aaaaaahhhhh!!" and "da..da..da..da..da.." (which I guess means "look!
look!". I hadn't seen anything, but apparently everyone else did. "Look
over there." I was told.
Then, across the river, a dim orange-yellow light noiselessly shot up
perhaps 10 or 15 meters over the river before disappearing. That was
it. It was a Naga Egg! The crowd exclaimed and chattered animatedly. I
had the impression of it being some sort of a sky rocket -but it had
happened way out here in the middle of nowhere -kilometers from the
nearest village, and only us two trucks full of people to witness it.
"Who would have bothered to fire a rocket way out here as a prank?" I
wondered to myself.
We watched a while longer and more eggs rose in the distance then faded
quickly. These were bright red and nearly spherical about 75 to 125
meters away from us. The crowd responded to each "egg" with great
excitement. I was fascinated but couldn't decide what it was that I was
After a while, everyone started getting back into the trucks. I thought
it best to follow suite since I'd be there until the next day if they
left me. The trucks continued to trundle along the riverbank, all of us
keeping our eyes on the river for more eggs.
Before long, we approached a small village with perhaps a couple dozen
small cinderblock houses along the road. The road itself was lined by
small oil lamps mounted on waist-high poles. The flickering yellow
flames along the road were quite beautiful as lightning illuminated the
road from above. Just as we drew into the village, several red Naga
Eggs rose up into the sky from beyond a line of trees between us and
the river. I remember clearly seeing three eggs drift silently upward
above the trees, one chasing the other, moving to a 10 to 20 meter
height in about a second.
Again the trucks stopped and the villagers pointed to the spot in the
sky where the eggs were and talked excitedly. We all got out of the
trucks and stood on the side of the road, searching the skies for the
next egg. We had stopped in front of a small cinderblock house -the
residents of which had been sitting on their porch watching Naga Eggs
themselves since the sun went down. They had counted 62 eggs so far.
All those clouds and lightning had brought more than just a fantastic
light show. As the first few large tentative drops landed on our heads
we all instinctively made for the shelter of the nearby porch. As I
reached the porch, the few scattered drops turned into a wall of water.
The owner of the house, who didn't know any of us beckoned us into the
house. I stayed outside for a little while, enjoying the power of the
storm and the fact that this was the first time all day I hadn't been
hot. I was also hoping to see more Naga Eggs, but the wind was so
strong that the rain was coming down sideways and the roof of the porch
wasn't helping me any, so I went inside.
Inside the house, twenty to thirty people sat on the floor, except for
one child sleeping in his mother's lap and another bored young girl
watching the door, all of them were staring at a small television
screen (Television has inexplicable hypnotic power over the Thai).
Someone had put on a CD of Night of the Living Dead and they couldn't
take their eyes from the hacking, screaming, and bloody body parts.
After the movie was over, it was still raining like mad. One of the
truck drivers disappeared for a few minutes, returning with a couple of
pounds of cooked sticky rice, dried and canned fish, and cookies. All
of which were devoured as quickly as it was laid on the floor.
When the food was all finished, and the wrappers cleaned up off the
floor, the rain let up and we went back out to the trucks and headed
home. I didn't see anymore Naga Eggs that night, but I don't think they
would have been nearly as impressive as that family's hospitality at
taking in and entertaining over 20 strangers who happened to stop in
front of their house just as rain started to fall.
Back to Postcards page
Contents ©2002 Richard Cappels All Rights Reserved. http://cappels.org/