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  -> Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is Thailand's second largest city, at 250,000 people. If this seems like a small number, it's because it is. Bangkok has 8-14 million people, depending on how you count, but the majority of the 65 million Thais live in the countryside.

Chiang Mai was originally the capital of the Lana kingdom, and was founded in 1296. The old city is surrounded by a square moat about a kilometer on each side, and the old walls are sometimes visible next to the moat.

We took the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. For some reason, I thought that the first class sleeper cars would be luxurious, but they were pretty uncomfortable and grimy, although you get a lot of room in them. Also, the train took 17 hours to get there. The bus takes 8 hours and a plane takes one hour, and they all cost the same thing. Oh well. Jill said it was the one bad hotel of the trip: "If this hotel room wasn't moving, there's no way I'd be staying in it!"

Chiang Mai is at the base of the largest mountains in Thailand, and you can see some of the landscape during our trip to the hill tribes, the Hmong and Karen. It also has more temples than you can shake a stick at, lots of great spas (we got a massage nearly every day) and a vibrant street market on Sunday night that is way above and beyond the normal tourist markets in Thailand.

Thailand -> Chiang Mai