Returning to China: the New Year of the Dragon

After years away due to pandemic border closures, returning to China held a special significance for me. Though a brief layover in Beijing in March 2022 was marred by visa issues, it hardly counted as a visit. This time, however, marked a quick business trip, focused on launching projects I had strategized for years, with a significant focus on the Orient. The urgency was heightened by the approaching Chinese New Year.

Thankfully, my journey began smoothly with a direct flight from Munich, conveniently close to home. While Lufthansa’s Business Class service had evolved since pre-pandemic times, it still fell short of past standards, particularly when compared to Eastern carriers. Nevertheless, the flight to Shanghai was pleasant, and I arrived in the late afternoon, ready to immerse myself in the bustling city.

Settling into Jin’an Temple, a favorite retreat in the metropolis, I delighted in discovering small delis offering homely bentos—a nostalgic taste of familiarity during my short stay.

From Shanghai, I embarked on train journeys to Hangzhou for crucial meetings with partners and companies. While the bullet trains appeared aged compared to my memories, it was a testament to China’s rapid development and extensive infrastructure.

Evenings were reserved for cherished reunions with old friends in Shanghai, including an informal gathering at the Rotary Club, a place I hadn’t visited since 2015.

Another highlight was reconnecting with Attila&Co Shanghai, an agency I’ve collaborated in Milan. Led by Mia, their director, their presence in the enchanting French Concession was a blend of tradition and innovation, emblematic of China’s dynamic social and communication landscape.

As always, the culinary delights of China left a lasting impression, reaffirming its status as my second culinary home. Walking the streets, I felt a strange sensation of familiarity, as if memories from past lives were intertwined with the present—a sentiment I first experienced on my initial visit to China.

Leaving as the city buzzed with anticipation for the Year of the Dragon celebrations was bittersweet, but within me, there was a quiet certainty—I would return soon.