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Supernatural phenomena always seem to be met by photographers who possess a supernatural ability to botch a simple photograph, and the Naga Fireballs phenomenon of the Mekong river in Thailand is no exception. Images of these glowing, egg-sized orbs are always grainy, indistinct, and from a distance, but one factor does lend these fireballs the credibility that its supernatural cousins lack—thousands upon thousands of eyewitnesses every year for over a century. In fact, the fireballs have been observed by so many people that their existence is not really debated, rather it is their cause that prompts lively discussion.
Locals claim that these fireballs are the product of the “Naga,” a large magical serpent who patrols the river. Every year, around the end of October, hundreds of locals and tourists gather to watch the pinkish-red, glowing orbs emerge randomly from the water, and soar into the sky without a sound or smoke trail. The number of fireballs varies from year to year, but according to locals, the fireballs have occurred annually as far back as generational memory can reach.
The attempts at scientific explanations leave much to be desired, such as the idea proposed by Manas Kanoksin, a doctor from Nong Khai. He strongly believes that fermenting sediment on the river’s bottom causes pockets of methane gas to form, and that the Earth’s position in relation to the sun during those days of the year causes them to rise, then spontaneously ignite in the presence of ionized oxygen. But other researchers dismiss this claim, pointing out that the rocky river bottom doesn’t have much sediment, and that the water’s turbulence would break up any such methane bubbles before they reached the water’s surface. A similar hypothesis suggests that the fireballs are a result of flammable phosphine gas generated by the marshy environment, but this does not address the mechanism of ignition. Still others lay their suspicions on seldom-seen but oft-blamed meteorological phenomena such as ball lightning or St. Elmo’s Fire.
The most likely explanation, of course, is that the fireballs are man made, using fireworks, flares, burning balloons, tracer bullets, or other ascending light sources—and the real mystery is how the hoaxsters have avoided detection for over a century.
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Yes, you would think some tourist would use color film and/or a camcorder. I find this to be a VERY interesting article as I believe there may be bubbles coming from crags in the sea floor or something. Really, if I were a scientist I would get a passenger air balloon and float right over them and bring all my scientific equipment to record and “read” what the bubbles are made from. It may be no scientist wants to put their reputation on the line; but if they do and “discover” the reason behind these balloon/bubbles they could make a real name for themselves.
Back in the 1950’s and probably way before that there was a state park in Daytona Beach named Tomoka State Park. It had a dancing balls of light phenomenom that was locally famous. There were many newspaper articles about it and several people were killed chasing that light. When I used to go to Daytona on spring break we would get together with a local guy there named Daryl and go to the park late at nite and entice the light to come out and play with us. You had to show it that you were there for it as it wouldn’t come out for just anyone. I will give you a short story of our most memorable nite interacting with the light. Also it was never explained as to what it was. We would drive through a subdivision to the entrance to the park. The entrance was a large brick archway. When you drove through this arch you entered a different world. The road inside the entrance became a three mile long straightaway that was covered with large trees and a heavy layer of spanish moss. You could not see the sky at all even in the daytime! It was a large dark, spooky tunnel into another world. To me a world of supernatural. You would drive in and go about a hundred yards into it and pull over on the side of the road which was an old two lane blacktop. turn your motor off and leave your parking lights on. I had my fathers 56 ford station wagon that would run 120 mph. Had he known what we were doing he would have killed me! There was usually six or seven of us. Sometimes the light would not come out but the more you tried the more it would come out as if it had grown to know you and trust you. This nite we were sitting waiting and it came out. As usual it was at the other end of the straightaway. The light would appear as a burning ball of orange but then would split into a red ball of fire, a green ball of fire and a yellow ball of fire in a triangular formation then would go back into a single ball of fire then back into the triangular formation and do this over and over like it was playing with you. Most nites we would crank the engine and take off towards it at a high rate of speed or better put as fast as that station wagon would go! usually it would remain splitting into three and back into one and just as we had to hit the brakes to get stopped it would blink off and reappear at the other end of the straightaway from where we had come and be dancing and teasing us. How it traveled three miles in the blink of an eye was amazing. And we would do this over and over trying to catch it but could never get close until this nite that I will tell you about. As we were approaching midway down the straightaway at about 120 mph when the light in its’ single orange ball of flames started coming towards us as if it was to hit us head on! I’m sure this is how it killed people as it would have run most people off the road and into a tree (the usual way they were killed according to the newspaper articles that Daryl had shown us ) but I didn’t flinch and drove straight ahead as if to collide with it ( don’t ask me why, probably the beer ). All the guys in the car were screaming and got down into the floorboard! the instant we should have hit it it disapeared and reappeared on our tail chasing us at 120 mph!! It was about two feet from the tailgate! The guys were really screaming now! I was scared to death and it came up beside the car and ran along beside us for a short time and it was about two feet from my shoulder. I had sunk down in the seat and could barely see to drive. It looked like a small basketball size sun! Just roaring with fire and very bright!! and then it flashed down the road to the end of the straightaway in the blink of an eye and started the one into three and back into one dance that it normally did and as we approached the end of the straightaway it blinked off and then back on at the far end dancing away as if it was estatic that it had put the fear of god into us! I truely believe that it meant to kill us as it had done many times before. I assume it was tired of playing with us as we had gone there many times and played with it but not like that nite! The next nite when we went there we could not get it to come out and were traveling at a high rate of speed back towards the gate. As we exited the park the Florida State Patrol was at the entrance. He stopped us and told us to never come back there as he had observed us speeding towards him and said that too many people had been killed chasing the light and that this tractor trailer truck ( there was a large white tractor trailor there on the side of the road outside of the gate ) was there with scientific equiptment in it and that some scientists were going to try to find out what it was but I was told by Daryl that the light never came out again and I guess it never has. This happened in 1960. I will swear on a stack of bibles that this happened just as I described and I have a best friend who was with me that nite who will tell you the same story!!
I have been there. I live in Thailand for 13 years, heard of it and decided to take the trip to Esan on the 3rd week of November. The Nam Mae Kong starts to run low tide at this time of the year, so the Laotian part of the river is very visible. I was told of a hoax and some guys on the other side firing some rockets or shots of some sorts. Nope. The first “Naga balls” I saw came right out of the Laotian river bank, a few yards away. It was 6 pm, still had day light and anyone could still see the trees on the other side and the river flowing. Pinkish flames seemed to just come out of the river by the bank, slowly rise up to 20 to 30 feet up and vanish into thin air. I believe it is a perfectly explainable phenomenom which is due to decaying bodies (fishes or organic matter) in the river that release some methane. When the meteorological conditions are met, the methane ignites when entering into contact with the oxygen found in the atmosphere.
It’s been great though, and quite a bit of an experience. I highly recommend it.
Unfortunately over the years, the magical ‘Naga’ have been slowly irradicated by large commercial footwear manufacturers. Their use of ‘naga’hide has led to the sure extinction of the beloved magical serpent.
slimslam said: “Unfortunately over the years, the magical ‘Naga’ have been slowly irradicated by large commercial footwear manufacturers. Their use of ‘naga’hide has led to the sure extinction of the beloved magical serpent.”
Oh! Thats so clever and funny! And I thought it was just fish farts. LOL
xler8rdoug your story is facinating! Thanks for sharing it. :)
And thank you, Alan for another Di story.
Btw, have you all heard of the Marfa lights here in Texas?
Similar phenom, more like xler8rdoug’s experiances, tho I don’t think any one has ever been that close to them. Too kool.
If they really exist and scientists are using submarines to study the river… why aren’t there decent photos of them? If people can go out to watch them they would almost certainly take photos.
wow… such a great story…
specially the xler8rdoug story…..
wow… I don’t know what to say..
I believe you…My dad has been to Tokoma Park a few times and said the same exact thing has happened to him and his buddies. One guy died at the kink in the road running from it in a brand new jaguar xke. he was running and didn’t make the turn and hit a tree. My dad and his buddies saw the car and asked the same guy named Daryl what happened and he told them about the light and they went looking for it. I just wish i could see it for myself
One time, I was walking home at around 5:40 from a friends place, and all of a sudden lights appeared at the top of these poles on the side of the road! It was amazing, at the very time it was getting dark, like they were doing it just so I could see!
Amazing how much power the universe holds that “science” doesn’t even try to explain.
Enter your reply text here. OK
//////////////////////////////Amazing how much power the universe holds that “science” doesn’t even try to explain.////////////////////////////
ANSWER: Thousands of years religion has filled a gap which narrows every day as more is explained.
Xler8rdoug, man, this one time I was drunk and driving back home, and the exact same thing happened to me. I encountered this light at a dark and deserted road. This light appeared as a burning ball of orange but then it split into a green ball of fire, a yellow ball of fire, and a red ball of fire. I did the same, I ignored it and kept driving, and moments later, a cop pulled me over for running a red light. Damn!
If it is the same Daryl I would be very suspicious of his involvement in this phenomenon. Not that he could pull it off alone but with a decent number of people split into groups each with their own balls it could explain how the balls could disappear then immediately reappear an impossible distance away for example. Some people get off on fuckin with peoples heads ya know. Regardless this was very interesting thnks guys.
Great story xler8rdoug. That’s the way- always try to run over the enemy- don’t veer off or you’ll crash. My one criticism is that while it had plenty of suspense, maybe the story should have had at least some paragraph spaces!
Doug, I hate to burst your bubble, but “the light” at Tomoka state park was simply the headlights of an uncoming car. As you remember, the road was miles and miles long, straight as an arrow, and completely surrounded by trees. This caused the phenemon of an oncoming light to appear very bright, even though it was 4 or 5 miles away. I drove this road many times during my teen years when my parents and I vacationed in Daytona Beach in the late 50’s and early 60’s. If we had girls in the car, we’d get some mighty close hugs when that light appeared! It was especially frigntening if the oncoming car turned on a side road and “the light” suddenly and unexplainedly went off!
In the early 60’s a few of us from UNH enjoyed spring break at Daytona Beach. One evening three of us drove out into Tomoka Jungle. There was Rick who’d lived in Daytona for a while earlier, myself and a friend of Rick and his brother Ron curiously named Doug who lived in the area at that time. Doug had had several earlier experiences with the Ormond Light which can only be seen – if at all – coming back out of Tomoka Jungle. On one occasion he and his girlfriend were parked in the shoulder hopefully awaiting the light’s appearance. Sure enough, at some point it did appear – a very bright light and definitely not a glow as of phosphorus from decaying vegetation. Doug left the car and approached the light which as he neared it suddenly blinked out. When he got back to the car his girlfriend was hysterical. She said that all the time he approached the light, there was a beam issuing from it focused on him. He couldn’t see this from his vantage point.
Anyhow, the night Doug, Rick S. and I went out there, it was moonless with a light drizzling mist. It was roughly midnight when suddenly a bright light appeared in the dark. Without a frame of reference, it was difficult to see how far away it was. After several minutes, it vanished. Shortly later it reappeared – again bright white although this time it turned red before it disappeared. The third and last time we saw it, it was again a bright white. Suddenly, it shot across the road and blinked out. It didn’t bobble as though it were carried by someone. It just flew across the road and disappeared. Shortly later, a police officer drove up to us and asked us to be on our way and so we left. Driving slowly out, we played flashlights onto the shoulder but saw no signs of anything unusual. Just jungle with no habitations in sight.
Years later when I was publishing a number of short stories and articles – some on paranormal events – I wrote to the librarian in Ormond or Ormond Beach. I forget which. She wrote back and said the light had first appeared back in the 20’s or 30’s and had defied spectrographic analysis. Supposedly dogs were unable to detect a human presence behind the light but appeared uneasy in its presence. And she verified that there had been at least one fatality when someone presumably swerved to avoid what appeared to be an oncoming headlight.
I have to wonder if the Doug we were with that night was the author of the above account as the date would have been on the mark. Eerie but very interesting.
Siesta, I am not that Doug but I appreciate your story. It happened exactly like I said. I’m 66 years old now and will never forget it. It was supernatural. That’s the only explanation. It’s a shame that some of the other people who had this experience have not found this website. That guy Daryl showed us several articles from the paper where several people had been killed chasing that light. He had a lot more experience with it than we did. We chased it four or five nites during a weeks stay. It was famous in Daytona and Orman Beach. All these dumbasses who have been making fun of this story are just like I said….dumbasses. There was no oncoming car, in fact we never saw another car out there when we were there. There were no side roads along the straightaway. Nothing could have duplicated what we saw. I feel that I’m a lucky guy to have had this experience. Doug
@17xler8rdoug: Very interesting story and thank you for sharing it. I believe what you’re saying. I’m not religious at all.. barely ever attended a church. However, science is constantly changing and what we now know as correct may be incorrect in the future 100 years. This has been proven true.. just look at science’s history. I have a couple questions if you could answer them. This Daryl guy.. how old was he? How did you came to know him? Could you talk more about his knowledge of the “ball”? :P…
In australia, theres whats called min min lights.. apparently, some of the bush aborigines can talk to it, in an entirely different language, like the devil talking. If any whitefella had been with them, they were blindfolded. Then whatever creature that was, would turn back into a red ball of light and shoot off into the distance.
Those who immediately dismiss these claims about tomoka state park are very narrow minded. I’m a 20 y/o female whom had a very frightening experience on beach street. My friend and I were driving in Daytona beach a week ago, hoping to explore the abandoned Treasure Island Inn. We got sketched out and decided to just keep going north in fear of getting caught in that building. Previously, I had heard and known nothing of this road or park. We eventually found ourselves in ormond beach, trying to find a bathroom that was still open at midnight. After driving through deserted, empty roads, we stumbled upon the restroom at the park entrance. We did our business, freaked out the entire time from hearing strange rustling noises in the bushes, and immediately left. I remember walking out of the restroom and seeing two people riding their bikes with no lights AT MIDNIGHT??? We pulled out of the park, turned right out of the lot, and started on our way home. We took the exact same roads back, yet this time the road was extremely curvy and dangerous with no street lights or side roads. It was already an eerie feeling driving on such an unilluminated roadway, but then I noticed a dead possum on the opposite side of the road, which no cars had traveled on besides mine. Then there was another, and another, and another! All appearing to either be playing possum (why? Go in the forest like a normal possum) or dead with no sign of physical wounds. There were about 8. That’s when I noticed the two lights far off in the distance behind me. I turned away for a second, only to find that the lights had disappeared and reappeared right behind as one singular orb. It was incredibly bright and blinding, but didn’t fracture or shine like an auto headlight. It followed behind me keeping the same distance of maybe a foot at most behind my Prius no matter how fast or slow I went. It was so frightening, I had almost crashed my car into a tree around a curve because this thing was like taunting and distracting me. No cars had passed us in this stretch of road during this occurance, until we passed the first turn off which THANKFULLY had a car waiting at a stop sign. We looked behind us as soon as we passed the car, and the orb had just vanished. I firmly believe that other vehicle had saved my life that night. I’m unsure what I should believe, if it was ghosts or something more sinister and extra terrestrial. After that night, I started to do research and found out all these other people have had similar experiences to me, so it’s nice to know I’m not crazy lol.
Flashback — wow.
I was born and raised in Daytona. Heard may times of the “Tomoka Lights’, and other scary stories.
In high school era(1964-1970) I went there many times. To stop the car or motorcycle, even for a second was scary as hell. Then for unknown reasons it became my friend, I would park and walk for a mile or two. I never experienced any of the phenomenon, damit(I think).
Yet another article that I missed.
And, as always, fantastic topic and writing.