The train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes about 14 hours - from 7:35 pm to about 9:30 AM. We went in second class, which means we paid $25 each to sleep in a car lined with bunk beds on each side. The chairs in the picture turn into a lower bed, and another bed pulls down from the ceiling.
The "train attendant" (I don't know what the word for it is - the train equivalent of a flight attendant) was a lady-boy who wanted to be called Natalie and he was an absolute crack up. Sooo over the top femenine and animated! If you've never been to Thailand before, the lady-boy culture can be a little shocking, but you just get used to seeing guys dressed up and acting like women, and it is widely accepted. The best is watching a group of college-aged European tourists checking out a group of who they think are hot girls...only to realize a few minutes later that they are actually lady-boys. The reaction is priceless!
We bought some snacks for the train, including these delightful Nori Seaweed flavored Lays. They have a great variety of flavors here, including Shrimp and Mayonaise, and I plan on trying them all!
We found a market over by our new apartment that had piles of these. Yes, they are what you think they are, and of course we had to try them! Once you get past the fact that you are eating deep-fried grubs, they're really good! Light and crisp, with a delicate barbecue flavor. I have to say I recommend them, even if it's only for the shock value when you tell your friends you ate them.
Chiang Mai is a beautiful city absolutely full of wats (Bhuddist temples). They are everywhere you look - including right next to our hotel. I opened the curtains to see this impressive roof line. Bhuddism is everywhere here - shrines in front of every house and business, wats around almost every corner, and monks in bright orange robes walking all over the city.
I love this city, which is great, because I just got a job for 6 months! I will be working part time for a language school, teaching small group lessons in English conversation and helping prepare high school students for the TOEFL exam (required to get into American universities). I'm very excited!