The tour bus picked me up at the hotel at about 08:00 and then we drove to the pier which was between Guilin and Yangshuo. There were a lot of boats and many tourists on this cold, grey, and rainy day in December. I was the only westerner so the tour guide had to give her speech in English just for me on the boat of about 100 people. I couldn't hear most of it.
The scenery was amazing as the boat wound through the Karst Mountains on the four hour cruise. The Chinese were running from side to side and front to back in order to get the best photos. The highlight was the spot on the river that is depicted on the 20 yuan note. At this point everybody held up a 20 yuan note and took a picture of it with the matching mountain scenery. I didn't have one so a Chinese guy let me take a picture of his while he held it in front of my camera. We had a pretty good lunch of rice and something else halfway through the trip.
In Yangshuo we had a few hours of free time to walk from the pier to the meeting point at a hotel a few kilometers away. The main road, West Street, was all bright and shiny souvenir shops, bars and restaurants for the tourists. There was also a McDonald's and KFC in the little town.
The second part of the tour was a ride on a little boat that went through a cave and then wound around on a little branch of the river. They had a fake indigenous village set up with musicians pounding drums and dancing around.
The tour bus took us back to the Guilin and the final drop off spot was at my hotel at about 19:00. Nobody was hassling me for tips which was a nice change.