Nong Khai-Thailand 


2007/08 Asia Trip Itinerary | Home Page 1 of 6| Page Down  

The garden of Mut Mee Guesthouse in Nong Khai Thailand and getting to stay in my favourite room.     We came to cross the Friendship Bridge to Laos but first there was the festival of Okk Paan Saa held on the night of the October full moon, the final day of Buddhist Lent



All along the riverbank festivities were underway

Decorated boats illustrate the Lord Buddha returning to earth to teach his mother the Buddhist Dharma



                         Lucky youngsters got to choose a lantern for Daddy to set alight and send soaring into the night sky            

What's a Thai festival without food?


In the grounds of Wat Lam Duan Temple 

 Children worked on craft projects

While others were happy to take to the slide 

There were several stage productions, from this spectacular to a rock concert.   We presumed this was yet another representation of the return of Lord Buddha  


Next morning we found men creating towering spirit houses from freshly cut bamboo.   Judges were circulating, we  assumed a competition was underway

The freshly cut bamboo was carved with intricate cut outs.  Similar maybe to our own pumpkin carving going on at home that month.  Behind the cut out was placed coloured metallic paper

Some were very elaborate but we never did see what became of them or who the winner was because we had a date in Phon Phisai a truck ride away


                                                                            Phon Phisai
We set off from Mutmee in a convoy of four trucks and were dropped off 40km to the East in Phon Phisai.  We were given a map of the town and instructions to be at the dock by 9.00pm for the six hour dinner cruise back to Mutmee aboard the Nagarina  


Not sure what to do or where to go we just followed the not inconsiderable crowd to the river bank where we were astonished to see hundreds of groups of people, their children and their dogs, staking their claim to a ringside seat

Those in the know brought small pop up tents umbrellas or sticks and tarps but we just had a small blanket on which to hunker down and wait for.....we knew not what


We had come to witness the Mekong Fireballs, a natural phenomenon. They appear as balls of red or pink light that shoot into the air from the depths of the Mekong and hang there for 10 seconds before disappearing 

They come every year, or almost every year on the last night of Buddhist Lent, Legend has it that the spirit world of the Naga lies below the waters of this part of the Mekong river and the fireballs are sent to be Lord Buddha's stepping stones for his return

Boys lit fireworks, adults sent large lanterns soaring into the sky where they slowly drifted out of sight,  vendors plied food, drink, candy floss, toys, balloons and just about anything festival goers might need.  Women offered to share their homemade food with us and the men their beer

  As darkness fell tens of thousands of illuminated lanterns like these were floated downstream.  Traditionalists used coconut shells instead.  Two hours later they were still coming and we could see them in either direction as far as the eye could see.  But no fireballs


Would this be only the second time in living memory that the fireballs failed to arrive?  In 2004 they came a day later on the night of the Laos full moon.   Not sure how that works but everyone agrees that the Laos full moon falls a few miles from and 24 hours later than the Thai


This was the only red we saw in the sky that night and we finally had to give up and head for the pier for dinner and the long cruise back to Mutmee

No easy task as the whole Esplanade was jammed with people.  Many sitting in groups eating supper while the rest of us tried gamely to inch by.  Sometimes only inches away from mad hot coals in equally mad hot clay ovens on tripods.  Nobody seemed to be in charge, nobody directed operations and somehow everyone had a good time, nobody lost their temper and nobody got hurt.   If you find yourself hemmed in by 1/2 a million people it is great if they happen to be Thai



Back at the boat we had a lovely buffet supper, laid our mattresses on the deck and slept our way back to Mutmee


2007/08 Asia Trip Itinerary | Home Page 1 of 6| Page Down