This is what happened on a very long bus ride. On Lonely Planet it stated the ride would take 12 hours, it took 24 hours.
We borded the Ili bound bus at 6pm as the driver told us to when we bought the tickets, the bus left at 8pm and it was too full so some people had to sleep on the floor (which was carpeted and no shoes allowed.) Most of the passengers seemed to be Chinese citizens who were of Kazakh ethnicity. From 8pm we drove until 3am when the bus stopped at an alleyway to wait for the border to open. I am not sure why the driver didn’t just line up at the border right away. At 8am the bus finally went to the border to line up, many busses was already ahead of us.
We waited in line until 1130am where we finally was let into the Kazakh crossing zone. We got off and had to carry our luggage across the border. Since every Chinese bought 9 toaster ovens we were asked to carry one each. Luckily it was not a bomb or drugs so we crossed easily. The Kazakh customs hall is disorganized and chaotic with everyone trying to cram themselves and their luggages in. By the time we crossed the border and waited for the luggage to be reloaded it was 130pm.
Next off was the Chinese border where we again had to carry some toaster ovens. The customs building was very big and orderly. We got through easily. By the time we crossed that one it was 330pm.
Next up was the waiting game. A few passengers just took a taxi at the Chinese border and left immediately. There were taxi’s offering to drive people as far away as Urumqi. We decided to wait for the bus which was actually parked a 3 min taxi drive away in some parking lot. Luckily we got a ride with another fellow passenger ( since we helped her carry her toaster ovens) to the bus station. The bus pulled in but instead of picking us up decided it needed a car wash instead. We waited, and waited , and waited but the bus did not move and at this time other passengers had enlisted us to keep an eye out for all their stuff. Which was a lot of stuff.
At around 5pm a fellow passenger saw another bus was leaving for Ili and quickly called us out to hop on. We left other passengers behind and managed the get the last 2 seats to Ili. We finally reached Ili at 6pm. And since China is 2 hours ahead of Kazakhstan it was really 8pm when we arrived.
We found a nice business hotel in Ili for 218 Yuan that was very new and spacious. Had our first Chinese food (actually it was probably Uyghur food) and promptly passed out in bed.