THERE BE DRAGONS The warnings grew more dire the closer I got to Kam Chanode, the islandlike abode of the mythical Naga. "Watch what you say when you get there," advised the smiling service station attendant. "It's a sacred place," croaked a gimlet-eyed crone squatting outside a shop where I stopped for water. "Be careful." Thus it was with some trepidation that I turned off the highway and followed the signs along a strip of crumbling bitumen. I passed through the gates of a temple and found the tallest palm trees I've ever seen, jutting skyward from a lush hump of...

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