The Mekong River is one of the longest rivers in the world. It starts in the mountains of Tibet and flows through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. The section of the Mekong River that is located near Nong Khai, Thailand is home to an odd phenomenon that has some scratching their heads while others cry hoax. This phenomenon is known as the Mekong River Lights, the Naga Lights and the Nekha Lights.
The Mekong River Lights are red balls of light that appear on the surface of the Mekong River near Nong Khai, Thailand during the October full moon ever year. The lights appear to dance for a moment before shooting up into the sky and vanishing. Some eyewitnesses say that the lights originate at the bottom of the riverbed and that they burst forth when they reach the surface. The lights reportedly happen at other times of year too. The October full moon is just the most popular time to view them.
There are those who say that the Mekong River Lights are a hoax; however, they have been occurring for so long that they have spawned their own legend. Local believers say that the Serpent King Naga lives in the river. Some say that the lights are the eggs of Naga's wife being ejected into the world. Other locals, those who call them the Nekha Lights, believe that the large Nekha fish that dwell in Mekong River cause them. The latter seems more likely, but still unlikely.
Those who claim that the Mekong River Lights are a hoax say that locals set off some sort of rockets or flares to attract tourists. There are a few problems with this theory, though it still may be true. Firstly, why would they spend the money to do this outside of the October full moon? That is when tourists are drawn to the site. Secondly, the Mekong River Lights are not accompanied by the bangs, hisses or whistles that would be a dead giveaway. Lastly, the Mekong River Lights have been around for at least a hundred years, likely longer. How would this hoax be carried on and kept secret for so long?
Dr. Manas Kanoskin of Nong Khai, Thailand believes that methane pockets, which are pulled to the surface by the full moon, cause the Mekong River Lights. An engineer who recently built a bridge in the area says that there is no way. The bed of the Mekong is too rocky near Nong Khai to have methane build up like that. Other experts disagree with Kanoskin as well. However, unless there are tests done in the area, no one can say for sure one way or the other. The locals will continue believing it is the Serpent King and the scientists will continue arguing over the issue or ignoring it altogether until then.
The fact of the matter is that the Mekong River Lights are certainly real. Thousands upon thousands of people have witnessed them. They have been written about, photographed and made legend. There is no denying their existence. There is just the small matter of what they are exactly.