18 December 2019

NYC: WTC, Battery Park & Chinatown!

After leaving the craziness of Newark's Downtown and the familiarities from the Ironbound District, it was time for me to take the PATH back to the city. I had missed the completion date of the new One World Trade Center, sure I needed to pay attention! To walk down memory lane along the iconic Battery Park one more time! Pho from Chinatown needed to happen B! 

Flashback to that morning I stepped from my WTC bound E Train from Court Sq, the ivory white walls of One World Trade Center, I had always known it that transportation and shopping hub as a concrete shell. In that moment things stood completed, that 2019 morning had me remember all the times I had crossed the Hudson River on the PATH from Newark, New Jersey. The ark like roof shone with a neon blue light, I had unlocked the future, from that 2019 stance I couldn't believe how much things had changed. Going down to the PATH platforms allowed me to see things look so much more inviting and passenger friendly compared with those 2012 days. The PATH operative allowed me to pass through the barrier because the method to add the additional fare had me confused, explaining I was going back to Jersey after eights away that guy had made my holiday much better! I respected that random act of kindness! 

Fast forward to the lunch time hour, arriving back into WTC had me surrounded by hoards of tourists as I reached the shopping concourse. Finally, I accessed street level to find the towering One World Trade Center building looking down in my view. I had passed that special skyscraper many times during 2012 during its lengthy phase of construction. Another sense of completion could be felt in the air, I was feeling all kinds of nostalgia but in the next breathe I was being served something totally new! I wasn't down for any tours, dodging those individuals I took my time to appreciate the all new One World Trade Center with the 9/11 Memorial pools that came into my view, a sobering reminder during that moment that was filled with optimism. The whole morning had been mad, I felt very thankful in that moment and even now I'm looking back with fondness and appreciation. The WTC chapter could finally be closed with conviction, I had returned for the reasons mentioned above. 

Rewinding once again, I knew the way to Battery Park from WTC. No mistakes made, desperately seeking something like the time before I wasn't going to be feeling blue. Inspired by the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan that featured one of NYC's famous riverside parks, I had the title for my website and blog back during that initial 2012 visit. The first time around the boardwalk along Battery Park's riverfront was heaving with people, thankfully during that freezing yet sunny Sunday afternoon it was quite calm. I took my time and wasn't going to be rushed nor was I going to have my photos littered with tourists in the background. Things looked amazing, with the views of the Statue of Liberty in the distant with New Jersey in my sights, the whole experience around felt effortless and very correct indeed! No, I didn't see Susan during that Battery Park flashback experience, I was living nonetheless.

My visit to New York City's Battery Park was short but it was very sweet, it took me back to that first encounter when I was at the starting point of my placement year. To recapture those moments that inspired my first day out feature and the headline title of my blog had me feeling all kinds of feeling eight years on from that moment. The journey after working at Newark Airport had been on filled with my degree, employment uncertainties then my life in China, to return to that spot felt very correct in that moment because I had accomplished a lot because of my placement year after standing in that very park with visions of Madonna seeking those personals as Susan. Coming back down to reality, my phone was losing battery and I was still new to my hostel area, not wanting to get myself lost I returned to my hostel to recharge before recommencing the days exploration. From WTC to those Downtown flashbacks alongside the river at Battery Park, gave me everything and more! Yes!

Resurfacing from the hostel, I had my phone at full charge but my Ferry Street Barbecue no longer satisfied my hunger. Getting back onto the NYC Subway to Canal Street had to be done. After living in China for four years before returning to NYC's Chinatown had me feeling more feelings. I was on the hunt for some Vietnamese food because outside of China's Mainland or territories I don't eat Chinese food from restaurants unless its homemade fare. 'Pho 88' had closed down, choosing the next best thing had to be 'Nha Trang One'. Ordering my usual dishes I enjoyed every single bit, a part of me was quite disheartened that the original place wasn't present but I had what I wanted to eat. Stepping back out into the streets of Chinatown had me reading all kinds of signs, the first time around I couldn't read any Simplified Chinese characters. Four years living and working in China had changed all of that! Sure, it felt so crazy!

Passing through Chinatown on the previous night after arriving into Newark Liberty International Airport, my airport transfer took me along Canal Street to see that things looked very different compared to 2012. My Chinese American driver informed me that their had been quite a lot of drama between the local authority and the souvenir shops that operated along Canal Street. A lot of the street sellers had been removed from the street as it was believed the local authority from the city wanted to clean the area up, with the hope of attracting more tourists. Whatever the drama I saw some shops trading just fine the next day after passing from the airport. Back to those Chinese reading skills, I knew the Simplified characters to make up the brand 'McDonalds' in Chinese but in NYC's Chinatown those golden arches adorned three characters that I couldn't read! Yes, those three characters were Traditional style commonly used in Guangdong (Mainland), Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Memory Lane! 

Joseph Harrison  

NJ: My Ironbound Comeback...

The timings had to be perfect, there would be no mistakes, no wrong turns because Newark's Ironbound had been a part of my life! I don't use laundromats as part of my China life, there's no sign of the local corner stores but those memories from Lafayette Street had vanished. I kept that promise as I arrived by the PATH into Newark Penn Station for my comeback! Yes B!

After making peace with the Downtown I made my back under the tracks, entering Newark's Ironbound District to rediscover my former airport placement home. Taking the corner between Ferry and Adams Streets felt bizarre, it was like I hadn't been away at all! Seeing the usual places around the corner along with the familiar houses put me into a state of serious nostalgic love, it had been eight whole years since my last day that was spent in Newark, New Jersey. The familiar sounds had me back living that 2012 life for sure, hearing Spanish and Portuguese being spoken felt so normal to me even though I'm more likely to hear Mandarin Chinese spoken back in China. Making my way furthermore down Adams Street brought me with a very familiar corner, catching a glimpse of 'Madrid and Lisbon' fully transported me back to those days that I would walk to and from my Penn Station. I was hyped for Lafayette St! Let's go! 

Turning the corner on Adams and Lafayette Streets took me right back to the beginning, remembering everything as if it was the previous day I took one hot minute to soak it all up! The intersection between those streets had me feeling all kinds of things, the whole feeling of the area had not changed one single bit, for that reason alone I was feeling immensely thankfully for the chance to see my former Newark home serving the same street style! One of the ground floor apartments within 333 Lafayette Street was my home for close to one year from February 2012 to January 2013, aside from living within the security of my Walt Disney World International College Program dorms I had never lived in such a down to earth and independent setting with the USA! Being respectful that 333 Lafayette was still someone's home I took my photos from the side as not to attract any unwanted attention because things can get real in Jersey! Yes, it was a blast from the past! C'mon, Lafayette St! 

Within my Lafayette address not having a washing machine it was crucial that I found a way to launder my clothes and what not. Just around the corner on Elm Street I found my local laundromat, more commonly known as 'laundrette's' in the United Kingdom. I would visit this Ironbound washing house during my mornings after the early shift or during a lazy day off, I didn't have a regimented schedule but I made sure my airport shirts were clean and ready to go for the next spilt shift. Sitting in the laundromat during that 2019 moment felt utterly insane, it was a feeling of true normality. I had spilt some grease onto my trousers during the flight from Beijing to Newark the previous night so that was my excuse. Many of the low income immigrant families who lived in the Ironbound would frequent this humble laundromat, it made for interesting interactions and the chance to listen to their Spanish chats. Cosa segura! 

Being my one shot opportunity, I had to get my photo without rousing any suspicions and to respect the local vibe of the laundromat. Successfully taking my snap, I then allowed myself to take in the views, whilst enjoying the Spanish music videos that were being played on the television, truly it was amazing to be back within such a place! My trousers had completed their cycle in the washing machine, not wanting wet trousers I counted my quarters and made my way over to the driers. As my washed trousers dried in the machine it gave me a chance to speak with a local mother who had dropped one of her clean socks onto the floor. We exchanged a few polite words and that gave me the chance to say how weird it felt to use English. She was amazed that I had lived in the Ironbound before and had taken the commitment to visit from China. The whole visit was perfect, so I had managed to find something to wash on my first day and had recaptured the warmth of the local people. 

Now, when that New Jersey summer suffocated me with that heat I would always run over to the corner store across from the laundromat between Elm and Pulaski Streets. I would quench my thirst with either Sumol or Inca Kola because that's how it was done during those Ironbound summer days! It wasn't just the drinks that I needed during those summer washing days, I definitely loved my life when I found a Snickers ice cream! The period after I lived in New Jersey was a period of emptiness because in Birmingham I never found such corner stores, I severely underestimated the impression Jersey and its quirky corner stores would leave me with. After my trousers had been washed and dried, I crossed the street to the corner store that has been captured above. I grabbed the first can of Sumol because there wasn't any small bottles of Inca Kola, nevertheless it tasted so deliciosamente bom! Eu amo o Ironbound!

Being polite I introduced myself to the lady who was behind the counter, I asked politely if I could take a photo of the store for my blog post and that the visit meant a lot after the eight years away. She accepted my request, in-exchange for the photo I bought a can Sumol because that Portuguese soft drink reminded me of my Ironbound days. It was such a lovely moment interacting with the lady who owned the shop, she couldn't believe that I had returned after such a long time and that going on from New Jersey I had been working in China for five years. The whole morning exploring those three points had really been my main motivations to return to Newark. The flight had been long but the journey had been longer since my Ironbound days, the simplicity of the morning and the beautiful humans that I had met that morning had made everything worth it! I was ready for some Ferry Street BBQ, absolutely nothing was going to get in my way that 2019 morning! Nada não!

Obrigado por tudo! Gracias por todo!

Joseph Harrison

17 December 2019

NJ: Newark's Ironbound Realness!

Downtown Newark may have taken me out of my comfort zone a little, fearing not I retraced those familiar steps from Newark Penn Station to find Ferry Street. My blogging odyssey had started during my Ironbound days, eights years later since leaving on my VS2 flight I wanted everything Ironbound once again. I was craving dollar stores, Portuguese life and barbecue chicken! 

Downtown Newark was a done thing, walking away from the craziness towards Newark's Ironbound District. I had no clue about this Portuguese and South American infusion neighbourhood when I first arrived in February 2012. Getting used to the bus commute to Newark Liberty International Airport on a regular had me walking down Ferry Street in both directions, everyday I would get a lot of life from the realness that fronted me. The European familiarity came from the Portuguese vibe, those egg tarts found me once again but in the former Portuguese colony of Macau in 2016! During that Macanese CNY moment I had a strong feeling that I needed to board a Newark bound flight quick-time! Fast forward to 2019, I had my chance to make those Ironbound dreams come true in real-time motion. Those first Ferry Street steps allowed me to recapture those Portuguese and Colombian Spanish signs and shopfronts! 

Hearing those languages from Portugal, Brazil, Colombia and other spicy locations had me transported back to a homely place. To not be hearing Mandarin Chinese felt truly strange but the Ironbound took me back into the fold, I was living! Seeing those Colombiano shapes displayed in the ordinary shopfronts gave me another slice of nostalgia, the South American spice continued because those local Ironbound gents were looking mighty fine! Ferry Street was burning up during that freezing cold Decemeber 2019 morning, los hombres estaban en fuego! I had recently had my McDonalds breakfast at Newark Penn Station so I wasn't going to be having anything tasty from 'Pao de Terra', but I remembered those mornings walking back from Newark Penn Station that would witness me enjoying one of the deep-fried ham and cheese pieces of heaven with a coffee that didn't come from a well-known chain! Yes, the blessed thing in the Ironbound, money was spent within independent cafes and corps.

I had not been to either a 'Poundland' or 'Dollar Store' in a hot minute, so when I caught a glimpse of the first 'Amazing Dollar' along Ferry Street, I knew that I had to find a reason to pay a visit. Noticing that the next 'Amazing Dollar' as Adams Street grew nearer I walked in search for some detergent, all shall be revealed in the next post. The colours and crazy amount of all manner of things that were on the shelves transported me back to those random days off that I would find some of the most crazy things in that Colombian inspired 'Amazing Dollar' store. My detergent was marked at one dollar but in true Ferry Street style they told me another price, in full Spanish I had totally forgotten my numbers! Paying with my well-earned coins I did not understand that Spanish language but politely said 'gracias' because that was the right thing to do! I was looking for those ordinary things from my days living in the Ironbound District, B!

In that moment I was feeling so fortunate to be back within the Ironbound District, I wanted to keep my head clear so no drinks at Blitz Sports Bar would be consumed that morning. Passing places like Seabra's reminded me when I would be gasping for a drink during those summer months and then seeing Dunkin Donuts, I would love my 'Dunkaccino' and 'Texas Toast' with extra cheese! Walking along Ferry Street during that time meant that I didn't need any gym membership because the walk to the station helped me stay trim, I crave for a route to work like that in the future because in my dreams I would love my Newark body back! As I reached Adams and Ferry Streets I took a little trip down memory lane, that brief moment away from Ferry Street meant more to me than I had expected that it would! I have to be truthful that certain places on Ferry Street had changed, but progression was the main result. New additions were present along that familiar street but the vibe remained.

My go-to dining option along Ferry Street would always be half a chicken with rice and black beans, always washed down with a cold soft drink. I would usually get a take out because the large portion would last me up to three days, teamed with the protein, walking and lifting suitcases helped me slim down beyond belief! During my 2019 visit I wanted to dine in, the service was the same but the restaurant had expanded with extra seating available. I ordered my usual meal with a can of Gaurana, a Brazilian soft drink. Taking my time I lived for all of the flavours, the chicken tasted just the same with the black beans giving the rice a rice taste. The Sunday lunchtime trade kept the Ferry Street Barbecue very busy indeed! I was in no rush, taking my time I enjoyed my long-awaited Ferry Street meal! My first day back on the East Coast of the USA was everything that I had wanted it and more! Was it time to go back to NYC?

I stopped eating my food when I literally couldn't find anymore space for it in my stomach, feeling full and very content with that much missed meal it was time to return to NYC. From crossing the tracks from Downtown Newark into Newark's Ironbound District, I was fronted with the same sights that gave me life for certain, things had changed slightly during my eight years away from Jersey but I loved Ferry Street all the same. The over the top nature of 'Amazing Dollar' transported back to those random finds and helped me find some detergent to wash my trousers at my previous regular laundromat. Remember the locations by sight that held memories for me, let's leave those stories in the box where they should be. I devoured my Ferry Street BBQ meal before boarding my PATH train from Newark Penn Station. Getting back to Ferry Street within the Ironbound District gave me everything and more! Let's not leave it eight years again! Sejamos amigos para sempre!

Frango Tão Saboroso!

Joseph Harrison

16 December 2019

The Category Is... Downtown Newark, NJ!

Waiting for my Newark comeback, I was craving some danger and unpredictability because I want what isn't good for me. After flying for across the Arctic Circle and Mainland America, knowing that deep down I craved Newark's Historic Downtown, those feelings have never failed. Taking the PATH from New York City's One World Trade Center, I was ready for everything! 

Calling Newark, New Jersey my home one year during 2012 to 2013, the chaotic Downtown always had me under a spell. I was curious to know what kinds of 'Ratchet Fabulouness' was 'Newark Happening!' My 21 year old self wasn't ready for the heat of the Downtown in Newark, let's just say race motivates the demographics of NJ's Historic core and that was made clear to me by my African American colleagues with their love and safety for me at the core of their intentions. Fast forwarding to December 2019, I boarded my NJ bound PATH train from WTC to Penn Station in Newark with all kinds of emotions going on in my head but in my heart I had so much love for Newark during my time living amongst the crazy. No 62 bus to Terminal B nor the GO28 to Broad & Market, I was going back to witness any changes, also to recapture the heat within the maddening vibe of Downtown Newark. Was I really ready? NW, I was OK! 

As my PATH train pulled into the Newark area I was getting my life, half filled with trepidation because the Downtown in Newark isn't for the faint hearted! Newark Penn Station came into view, I couldn't begin to describe how I was feeling in that moment as my PATH train stopped at the drop off platform just the same as it had many times before after my trips to NYC. I wasn't working, getting off the train as a visitor with enough time on my hands felt so damn liberating, nothing was going to stop my pursuit because I had grown a lot since my residence in Newark. Not changing one bit, Newark Penn Station still served the same vibe and for that reason I felt as if I had stepped out from a time machine. Starved of my McGriddle breakfast from the McDonalds at Penn Station I found those golden arches for myself to see such a sobering sight. Sat down with my nostalgic breakfast within that McDonalds allowed me to hear those 'off the wall' and 'real' conversations like before! 

Proceeding towards Broad & Market, I saw the same unfortunate souls that made up the scene around Newark Penn Station. My life in China has seriously had me wrapped inside a blanket of cotton wool, pushing be outside of my current comfort zone had me feeling some kind of way. Keeping my eyes on the prize I clocked the street signs and the same sights that remained, retracing the way I would walk from the GO28 in reverse I was fine! Keeping things direct I kept on course for B&M, being a Sunday morning it was quiet on the streets as I passed Newark's Prudential Center. I did see some new developments but from an overall stance things looked the same, I was getting all kinds of memories thrown back at me and that felt so great! I wanted to see one familiar sight, from my 'Downtown' and 'Ironbound' blog I wanted to capture the scene outside NWK's former Paramount Theatre. No second chances! NO! 

I got my desired view as I reached the once art deco style Paramount Theatre on Market Street. Back in 2012 I avoided the Downtown because those characters petrified me, but in the same breath I had a burning desire to take a closer look. The former theatre had definitely seen its last standing ovation long before that December 2019 moment but I didn't have any rehearsal time, I needed to get that photo no matter how sketchy things were feeling! It was bizarre to see new eateries along that street, the proximity Newark had from New York City meant that a rejuvenated Downtown would bring in new life, I wasn't feeling those new additions one bit! With a strong stance, the scene of 'Brick City' gave me everything that I had wanted because my eight year hiatus had felt like an eternity. Having mad flashbacks I remembered those mornings when I would walk home from the GO28 through Market Street, that piece of memory lane questioned the life experience I acquired. 

Like a smack in the face I fronted the cold and crazy intersection between Broad & Market Streets, now that first encounter after arriving into Newark Liberty in 2012 made an impressionable mark on my consciousness! Countless times I would change to one of the buses that would either take me to Ferry Street or just to Penn Station after the evening shift had finished, those twilight hours within the Downtown along Broad & Market were no joke! As clear as day I remembered withdrawing some money out from the ATM at Bank of America on the corner of Broad & Market, surrounded by folks had me on a constant guard. That 2019 Sunday morning made me feel more relaxed, only slightly because it was a more sombre affair. In another sense I was living my life, getting everything that I had missed from the buzz of Downtown, definitely like a drug I needed one more hit! I was high on that nostalgia!

I was expecting the whole inner core to be retrofitted, in one way I lived to see the same street shop fronts, I instantly remembered passing the bustling intersection from the confides of my NJ 62 bus. My airport commute had me going through Downtown Newark as it was the main artery road towards the McCarter Highway, as I stood in that cold December moment I felt content with that stance as I wasn't going to retrace that 62 bus route closer to the airport. Glancing over towards the same PCS street billboard I saw some of the usual faces. Casting my mind back to those nights and afternoons whilst changing the bus in Downtown I would see all kinds of people, but I didn't hear 'Lucy, lucy, lucy!' That street chant meant cigarettes were being sold on the down and low, such memories brought back from that crazy year! Going further back to 2012, I crossed over to walk along Market Street towards Military Park just like my NJ 62 bus every working day. Ey, the same shops traded! 

Pushing forwards I still had more to see before finding my way to my former Ironbound neighbourhood. Minding my own damn business, I kept my senses together as I approached Downtown's Military Park to see a certain sense of progression. The imposing Prudential buildings towered over that city street moment, I witnessed a mild spot of change as the NJPAC came into view. Never did I ever imagine that I would see a Starbucks in the heart of Newark's Downtown core! Not then, not today, not ever! Newark women always impressed with their inventive weaves and wigs, fast forward eight years I got my life as a lady passerby was serving a multi-coloured 'My Little Pony' styled wig! That lady in-question was definitely serving 'My Little Pony Realness!' Using that moment of 'Ratchet Fabulousness' grounded me, I knew the real reason why I had taken my chance to return! I needed to find Military Park! Get into it, B!

Military Park and the PSEG building were both places that I would pass every working day on the NJ 62 bus, I wanted to take some time to actually explore the area. In that 2012 moment all I did was star out of the bus window, never did I ever imagine that I would be standing in the heart of that park. That area stood slightly back from the Downtown Core, I sensed a new crowd of 'office types' and other arty people would be changing the face of this side of Newark. Out of nowhere as I looked up into the sky, a Newark Police helicopter circled the skies over the Downtown! I won't lie I was shook, regardless of that choppers reason for flying that Sunday morning it left me feeling a certain way for sure! Keeping that 'My Little Pony' slice of 'Realness' in mind I made my way back towards Newark Penn Station to cross the tracks into the Ironbound section. Feeling accomplished and thankful for the opportunity to return, I felt so proud of myself because Downtown Newark requires nerve! 

Who's Lucy? I Don't Know Her! 

Joseph Harrison 

15 December 2019

Flying High... United!

Over the last four to five years 'Flying High...' has been an Asian affair, desperately seeking an American contingent had to be done! Paying the price I booked my direct United flight from Beijing to Newark/New York in May 2019, the eight year hiatus had been long enough, I needed Jersey! After packing my bags, it was time to make my UA88 flight to Newark, New Jersey!

Reporting for my United flight to Newark Liberty earlier than needed be, I checked in seamlessly at Terminal 3 of Beijing's Capital Airport. With my gate changed it felt like I had walked miles from E25 to E16, as if my luck would have had it, UA89 from Newark Liberty pulled into the gate just as I had arrived at E16 myself. I excitedly took several photos of that Boeing B777-200, it had been such a long time since May 2019 I was just so excited to be finally flying back to Newark Liberty with United. Boarding time rolled around, things went smooth and before I knew I had taken my aisle seat, 33C. Embracing the fact my aircraft had served some miles in her years, I wasn't mad that the in-flight entertainment screen wasn't retrofitted. United are going through a massive fleet overhaul, I hope to get a chance to fly on their new Dreamliner rather than another well flown Boeing B777-200. Anyhow, it was time to fly high! UA88, let's go B! 

Why did I choose United? Claiming to be the 'Friendly Skies' I wanted to see if their self-professed approach lived up to real life motion. Shortly after takeoff the cabin crew passed through the cabin with a selection of drinks and snacks, I chose to drink a red wine and by all means it wasn't my only grape based beverage during that 13 hour flight over the Arctic Circle, no! Complimented with some 'Asian Rice Crackers' I didn't really care for the snack but nevertheless I took a chance. Looking through the IFE system gave me life, I had seen about Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B's new film, 'Hustlers' but had never seen it! I guess exotic dancing and extortion aren't things that would down well with a Chinese audience, regardless I shelved that title for when the meal would be served. Breaking some time up I watched one episode of 'Schitt's Creek', I had seen bits of that show before, taking the time to watch it properly was great! What would the choices be for the meal? Get it good, Unieesha!

Unieesha? Yes B, I named my United aircraft Unieesha because of our destination, she would fly me to the city of 'Ratchet Fabulousness!' Enough of that business, it was time for the main evening meal to be served within the cabin, my flight had almost cleared Chinese airspace so it was time that we ate something. I chose the pasta, I enjoyed my meal whilst I dipped in and out of 'Hustlers'. The pasta option was nice, the warm bread was a nice accompaniment and if truth be told bread is a luxury compared with the Chinese staple foods like rice and noodles. With another wine for good measure, I rated the amount of times that the crew were serving drinks during the beginning of the flight. I took my time with my food, the crew didn't rush things at all, that was appreciated because I was quite preoccupied with taking the photo to the right. We had ham sandwiches before we landing into Newark! Yass!

After the meal service finished the cabin lights were dimmed to allow everybody to sleep if they chose to. Being too excited I made several trips from my seat to the rear galley to get more water and wine, I also wanted to strike up a conversation with one of the crew and sneakily observe their in-flight duties. Returning back to my seat to continue with 'Hustlers' gave me the chance to relax into that ultra long haul flight. 'Hustlers' was a really good film, only choosing one film to focus on through the flight gave me the opportunity to pause then continue when I felt like it. It was nice to talk with the lady next to me, she was Chinese and on her way back to her suburban South Philly home. Crew passed through the darkened cabin with small bottles of water, it was great to have my own bottle rather than just a small cup. Our sandwiches were served three quarters through the flight, I lived for that delicious chilled ham sandwich! Returning to the galley I enjoyed a few more sandwiches! So tasty!

The 'Friendly Skies?' Yes, the United cabin crew who were onboard my United UA88 flight from Beijing to Newark were amazing, I'm not saying that because it sounds good, its the truth! Having a mixed age crew allowed for different conversations, also many crew were Chinese speakers so it gave me the chance to say some of the things my students say to me! I got talking to the 'International Purser' who was very friendly and easy to talk to, it was such an excitement for me to be returning to Newark since working at the airport, he understood I was very happy indeed! All of the crew onboard the flight were based at Newark Liberty International Airport, one crew member said that she can fly to China up to three times per month! Yes, every airline has its moments but I can say from my own experience the crew were happy in their roles and promoted the United brand very well! Would I get my photo? Of course!

I had already cleared it with the 'International Purser' if it would be fine to take a photo with one of the crew members who were not feeling camera shy, he appreciated that I asked in such a polite way as he expressed some passengers don't have that common courtesy and respect towards the crew. Four hours before landing into Newark Liberty I was standing outside the boundary of the rear galley, minding my own business and drinking my wine, popping my head into the galley I smiled at 'Terri' and asked her politely for a photo with her for this blog. She gladly accepted my request, I told her I had asked her because she sold what the 'Friendly Skies' motto serves from the United standards. The crew were overall very friendly and engaged in conversation with me throughout the flight, it was a truly worthwhile experience choosing to fly with United on such a special flight. Buckling up it was time for our Boeing B777-200 to make its finals into Newark Liberty, I was ready! Thanks, Unieesha!

Planning my trip back to Newark hadn't been easy, being a British citizen I would usually be eligible to enter the United States of America with an ESTA. After taking a trip to North Korea in February 2019 I didn't think any of it but several months after that trip, any visitors wishing to visit the USA after visiting North Korea would need to apply for an official B1/B2 visa. Feeling the anxiety with potentially being refused entry into the States at Newark Airport I disembarked my flight with a feeling of trepidation. Before immigration I lived for the views of Newark's Terminal B, our gate was next to where my previous work placement airline would board. It had me feeling so kind of way! Teamed with that nostalgia, I proceeded to the customs clearing to be produced a paper slip that had a huge black cross on it. Making my way to see an officer filled me with pure dread. The officer was rather amused that I had visited NK! Thanks!

I was not ready for the 'red coat' to serve her Newark tone with me! It was everything! Cleared and landed into the United States of America at Newark Liberty International Airport had me feeling utterly blessed! Clocking that the arrivals hall hadn't changed on single bit was such a sight to be seen. Clocking the Virgin Atlantic check-in process going on as I made my way to my transfer made me feel truly accomplished, I had worked hard to return to the New York area, things felt correct in that moment! Things in Terminal B were looking all shiny and new, meanwhile I was feeling jet lagged beyond belief, nevertheless overjoyed to be back at EWR Airport one more time! All in all, the experience with United was very good indeed with their friendly crew, enjoyable in-flight entertainment choices and that delicious ham sandwich, I would choose to fly with United in a heartbeat! Thank you United, from Beijing to Newark it was a great flight, for 13 hours things literally flew by! Unieesha, B!

The Friendly Skies!

Joseph Harrison