The second half of our van ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap seemed to go by quickly. I think by then we just wanted to get to the destination. Some passengers who were asleep during the first half of the trip were now awake after getting refreshed during our short break in Kampong Thom. The Cambodian businessman who was very busy on his cell phone during the first half of the trip was no longer taking or making calls — possibly his phone already ran out of charge.
We stopped a couple of times during this leg of the trip. At the first stop, there was a young lady in her motorcycle waiting at the side of the road. Apparently someone had a package for her from Phnom Penh that was delivered by the van’s driver. It looked like a wrapped gift. The driver and one of the guys in the van said something to the girl as she received the package that made her blush. She went on her way with her package, and we continued our trip. The second stop was about half an hour later — this time the friend of the driver who was sitting in the front row with the driver and the British gentleman got off — that seemed to be his destination.
As we got closer to Siem Reap, we started seeing road signs for Angkor Wat and downtown Siem Reap. It looked similar to the drive entering Phnom Penh — you could see quite a commercialized road with small stores lining the road. At one point, the driver smiled and pointed at a billboard and said to the British gentleman, “Wayne Rooney!” — it was a huge billboard with Wayne Rooney in his Manchester United’s uniform.
We finally reached our destination. I was expecting that we would go to a bus terminal of some sort. That wasn’t the case. The end point was just a small office / store front for the van company. Looked like there were many people there waiting for the passengers to arrive, including one gentleman with a sign that said Derleng Tours and my name on it. He introduced himself as Mr. Ko, saying that he would be our driver for the day. And not long after that, a young gentleman showed up in a motorcycle. Mr. Ko introduced us to the young man, his name is Vanna, and he would be our tour guide for the next couple of days as we tour Siem Reap. Vanna said he just wanted to meet and greet us there upon our arrival, but we would start our program later on after we got a chance to check in to our hotel, got some lunch, and relax a little bit. So we planned to meet him at the hotel lobby in a couple of hours, and we went with Mr. Ko in his van to the hotel where we would be staying in Siem Reap.
Our drive to the hotel took us through parts of downtown Siem Reap. We passed the Royal Palace in Siem Reap and the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, which was among the most luxurious places to stay in Siem Reap.
The photo below was taken during our ride to the hotel. As we got closer to downtown Siem Reap, we could tell that this was a city lived on tourism — we saw hotels and restaurants lining the road and foreigners everywhere, including these two on the back of hired motorbikes.