National Geographic : 2001 Nov
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS O nce fearful of all that slithered in their wild, brimming forests, the villagers of Ban Khok Sa-nga for decades made use of venomous snakes by killing and eating them. Today locals, who rely on rice cultivation and a diminishing supply of wood, bring in much needed income by entertaining with, rather than stir-frying, the deadly king cobra. Waving and yelling "King cobra!" in Thai and English, roving shills enticed me and other passersby into a small building where, for 10 baht (about 25 cents), we watched the ladies of the King Cobra Club dance holding snakes' heads in their mouths (below). No one could tell me the origins of the performance, but it makes economic sense-and sends chills through an uninitiated crowd.