Nong Khai's Nagas

The adopted symbol of Nong Khai is the naga, a serpent with multiple heads. It has its orgins in Hindu myth. In India, the heads are usually the same as a cobra's, but in Southeast Asia the heads usually look more like dragons, no doubt due to Chinese influences. The association with Nong Khai comes from an annual phenomenon of the area. Each year around October, balls of fire or light are seen rising from the Mekong River. Legend has it that these fireballs are produced by a giant naga living in the river, although one Thai television exposé attempted to blame it on tracer fire from Laotian soldiers.

As a symbol of the city's association with the naga, they put up a giant gateway over the main road into town, from Udon Thani. If you look carefully, you'll notice that the street lamps lining the road behind the arch all have nagas wrapped around them.

Naga Fountain
The Naga Fountain near the provincial courts building.

In the next block behind the gateway is a traffic circle with another naga sculpture in it. This time, it's a fountain with a seven-headed serpent rising out of it. You'll find many more nagas around town.