Thanks to all the great advice i got on and off this site, here is what i have planned:
Bangkok to Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
Leave 3 march, arrive 4 march. (probably the most stressful part of my trip. i won't get my ticket until the day before. ugh)
stay in bangkok until 6 march. (if i get tired of it, i'll leave earlier, but i figured there would be a lot to see for 2 days.)
catch trains 7th march and spend a few hours in ayutthaya (TEMPLES!) and lopburi (MONKEYS!).
catch overnight train in lopburi (night of the 7th) to chiang mai.
spend 8 and 9th in chiang mai.
spend 10-12 in pai.
back to chiang mai on 13, then catch overnight train (night of the 13th) back to bangkok.
spend 14th in bangkok
I wanted to go to some beaches, but with only 10 days, i don't want to spend most of my time traveling and i have distant relatives in chiang mai that i would like to see. Also, pai sounds interesting, and like my kind of town (hippies? relaxing? people going for a few days and staying for a few years?!!! i'm all about that!)
i'm taking a small backpack with a few items... few change of clothes, cosmetics, small laptop, phone, (mostly for alarm, don't think i'll be getting service) and camera. I've lived out of a duffle bag the last 4 years of my life, and most of my life has been spent getting up on a moments notice and moving, so packing was a piece of cake. i'm bringing a few hundreds and i will have my card just in case. i'm usually pretty thrifty (read=cheap), so i won't spend much, i'm not much of a souvinier person, but i want to get some things for the guys i work with... pictures and experience are more than enough for me!
something that will eat up some cash is lodging. i've spent the last 8 months in a tent with 8 other females, 3 minute "combat"
showers (often cold), and an outdoor toilet in freezing weather... there is no way i'm going to rough it now. Plus, i will be
traveling with my boyfriend, so yeah... private bedrooms with a bathroom is a must, and in pai, i was checking out the tree houses
and then saw the cottages with the bathtub and was sold! so most of my funds will probably go to lodging, but that's no big deal. All of it under 1800 baht, with the stay in chiang mai probably being the cheapest.
So... anything else anybody might want to add? i've come a long way since my first question and i just can't wait to step off the plane into a new change of scenery...