After a month and a half in China I crossed the western border into Kazakhstan.
Checked out of the Xinjiang Yizhan Youth Hostel at 0730. The hotel girl was asleep on the couch. I had to wake her up to get my 100 CNY deposit back.
I walked over to the Long Distance Bus Station on Jie Fang Road but it wasn't open yet. I found out that there were a bunch of shared taxi guys there taking people to the border so I went with one them. There was a European guy there and we shared a taxi with some other people for 45 CNY per person.
The taxi dropped us off at a bus station at the border with buses to Zharkent. We took the bus for 70 CNY but we had to wait until it filled up and didn't leave until about 11:30. The bus was worth it because it went through the border through some back way and it was only our bus going through each stage. We didn't have to line up with other people, just the 15 or so from our mini bus. Even so, each stage took forever and we finally got to Zharkent at about 14:00 China time. With 100 feet after crossing the final border check, there were donkeys in the street in Kazakhstan.
At the Zharkent bus station there were no buses to Almaty but a lot of gypsy taxi guys yelling at us. I went with one of them for 50 tenge which included the drop off at my hotel in Almaty. There were two ladies with a kid in the back seat with me. The driver was a maniac as usual and played with his phone most of the time as he sped down the road and passed all of the other cars. The drive took three hours and we stopped one time at a very grim outhouse bathroom along the highway.
The border crossing and trip to Almaty took all day. We gained two hours with the time change so arrived in Almaty at about 15:00.
In Almaty, I had dinner at an excellent bakery Kebab place right across the street from the hotel. I also got a Kazakh SIM chip for internet only. The hotel is right down the street from the main mosque and near the central park.
It's nice to be back where Internet sites are not blocked, credit cards can be used, and getting a SIM card is no big deal.