Bung Fai Phaya Naga


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
October, 2002 - A billboard promoting the event

NYT fireball article - January 6, 2003
Generalized article on the Mekong fireballs with one interesting tidbit: For some reason, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has chosen to bring the fireballs down to earth. "The appearance of the King of Naga fireballs involves the simultaneous interplay of several forces of nature," it says in a news release. "These include the presence of conditions that are conducive to the formation of methane-nitrogen gas with 19 percent level of purity, the presence of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria coexisting in a habitat at depths of 4.55 to 13.40 meters with organic deposits forming on a bed of clay or sand, average surrounding temperatures of higher than 26 degrees centigrade at 1000, 1300 and 1600 hours, and a pH value between 6.4 to 7.8." This is an interesting turn of events considering all the controversy last year when ITV dared to present non-supernatural theories for the occurrence.

The story in The Straits Times: Tiff dampens mood of Thai-Laos river festival - November 17, 2002
NAGA FIREBALL ROW: Nong Khai rebuffs iTV - The Nation, November 15, 2002
NAGA FIREBALLS: iTV says it's sorry - The Nation, November 14, 2002 - past articles on the fireballs
Fireball lawsuit - November 8, 2002
iTV reported the fireballs were orchestrated by Lao soldiers on the opposite side of the river bank shooting tracer rounds into the air from AK47 rifles... Hundreds of protesters gathered at a ceremony in Nong Khai on Tuesday to curse iTV over the programme. They also laid funeral wreaths and demanded provincial authorities take legal action against the television station. The Nation reports this in a rambling editorial: The Naga embraced the Lord Buddha's teaching wholeheartedly. The iTV's investigative reporters have shown that they have no understanding at all about the disparity between philosophy, folk belief, myth and reality.

Still more on the fireballs - November 6, 2002
An article in The Nation by Manas Kanoksilp who has "conducted research on the Bung Fai Phaya Naga, or the Naga fireball phenomenon, for the past 11 years." He also has a website (in Thai). There is also an editorial that does not really have a point of view (see the last paragraph), but does mention what happens when scholars delve into "untouchable" subjects: In 1995, a female researcher whose masters' thesis questioned the existence of Thao Suranaree - the female heroine known among Nakhon Ratchasrima residents as "Ya Mo" (Grandmother Mo) - was forced to beg forgiveness before her monument. It further explains: The fault of both iTV and the female scholar in the Ya Mo case is that they tried to challenge well-established beliefs upon which sectors of society thrive, including the tourism industry.

Fireball probe scorches iTV - The Nation, November 5, 2002
The Nong Khai protesters gathered at the provincial hall said that the iTV documentary was tantamount to contempt for provincial residents who sincerely believe the phenomenon was supernatural.
Earlier: Fireballs not a hoax, insists TAT official - November 3, 2002

Naga light reporting in the Nation and Post - October 29, 2002
We had many letters and comments about our contrasting of The Nation's eyewitness report of the naga fireballs to the Bangkok Post's reprinting of government radio press releases. Today, the Post tries to redeem itself with this eyewitness account (although it is a week after the event). Here's what 2b reported last week:
Contrast the Post and The Nation's coverage of the event this year. The Nation has a eyewitness account describing the event as "disappointing." The Post just reprinted government radio hype that the phenomenon was a "resounding success." The Nation also had the story a day earlier than the Post.
Reallife fireballs a damp squib as rains come down - The Nation, October 22, 2002
More than 200,000 people who flocked to see the “naga fireballs” in Nong Khai last night were disappointed by an unusually poor show – and endured a soaking in a two-hour long heavy downpour with strong winds to boot. The Nation's special report on the phenom.
More than 800 fireballs rise from Mekong - Bangkok Post, October 23, 2002
The annual Bang Fai Phaya Nark festival, in which mysterious fireballs rise from the Mekong river, proved a resounding success this year, drawing around 400,000 visitors to Nong Khai and injecting more than 50 million baht into the local economy.
General info about the event: During October's first full moon, balls of light rise out of the Mekong River near Nong Kai... Other things to do in the area.
Fireball display set to draw 100,000 - Bangkok Post, October 21, 2002
Huge turnout to view fireballs
- Bangkok Post, October 22, 2002
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