Some years ago there was a Thai movie about Phya Naak in Mae Khong River that shot fireballs into the sky in the full moon night of the 11th
Lunar Month. Since ancient time the local people along this quiet town of Pon-pi-sai in Nong-khai prefecture have often witnessed fireballs spurting from the river up into the night sky at this particular time of the year. (Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naga_fireballs
) That movie has changed these quiet and rather unknown villages along Mae Khong river into famous tourists' spots. People from all over Thailand and from overseas would come to the river banks to see the mysterious fireballs. It has become a national festival. You can imagine how crowded these small villages are during those few days.
Now there comes another movie about Phya Naak. I am not sure what the title in English is. The introduction was in yesterday's Matichon
newspaper. It was about what really happened in another quiet place called Kham-cha-nohd
in Udonthani, northern Thailand.
Here is the story:
In January of the Buddhist year of 2532 ( = A.D. 1989) an outdoor movie rental company was asked to show movies in a village in Kham-cha-nohd. The contact person paid 4,000 baht – all in coins – and requested that the movies must end and all the equipments moved out of the site at 4 am and not later. That night the movies were shown in an open place in that village but there was no audience before 7 pm, which was highly unusal. At 9 pm the crowd showed up all of a sudden, with women in all-white and men in all-black attires. They sat very still in two groups: women with women and men with men. They were quiet all through the movies. No conversations, no laughters, no getting up or walking around, and there were no food or drink sellers. At 4 am the audience disappeared altogether so suddenly. The next day, when asked, the villagers said there were no movies in the village at all that night. The (owner? and the) people of the movie company thought it odd so they went to check the site. There they found an isolated island of jungle full of a kind of trees that looked like a combination of palm and coconut. These were called "Kham-cha-nohd"
trees. There were traces of the car tyres that ended at a well in the middle of the island.
The conclusion: the weird audience was the souls of Phya Naak people, who, like us humans, also needed some sort of entertainment. The well, located in the middle of the Kham-cha-nohd
jungle, has always been regarded as the connecting point between human's world and Phya Naak's. Water in that well is, therefore, regarded as sacred.
According to the local people this island is a sanctuary full of harmless souls... They also say if anyone touches the gong there without striking it and yet echo happens that person is definitely an offspring of the tribe of Phya Naak's. More about the myth of Phya Naak (or Naga) in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naga_%28mythology%29
I guess the villagers' belief was based on this ancient myth – with add-ons.
See pics of Kham-cha-nohd HERE