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Asia CommentTaipan

The jet-setting new age banker


What's it like going back to business travel after more than two years of Covid related disruptions?

How times have changed. And how sometimes it feels like things have already gone back to exactly the way they were before Covid came along full steam in early 2020, shutting borders, bringing travel to a grinding halt, and transforming how we live and work.

I had lunch last week with the Asia CEO of a big European bank, who had gone travelling for a few weeks from Hong Kong as part of his attempt to connect with colleagues in Asia, after two years of only seeing them over Zoom.

His schedule left little to envy. But it also showed me how far some countries in Asia have gone when it comes to the idea of living with Covid and bringing life back to normal.

The chap flew in to Singapore from Hong Kong. After spending a few days in the city-state, which recently opened its borders, quarantine free, to everyone who is vaccinated, he then flew to Jakarta.

A couple of days later, he was in Kuala Lumpur, meeting colleagues and clients. Then he came back to Singapore, recharged over a few days, before flying to Bangkok. All without quarantine, and with very little pre and post departure testing.

His next stop? Back to Singapore, before returning to Hong Kong, to spend one week in quarantine, before he can see his wife and kids again.

Listening to his packed itinerary exhausted me. But despite being bleary eyed over our lunch, the fellow was still in high spirits, marvelling at how smooth all his travel had been within Southeast Asia.

Had it been me, I would have taken a leaf out of the book of another loans banker friend. This chap flew into Singapore from Hong Kong with his wife and kids in tow, spent a couple of weeks there, before taking a 10-day holiday to the Thai island of Ko Samui. Then back to Singapore for another two weeks, before returning to Hong Kong.

The trick, it seems, is to travel long enough to make the week of quarantine in Hong Kong almost seem worthwhile.

But it does appear, dear readers, that the jet-setting banking life is making a comeback. How times have changed. And how rapidly we bankers have gone back to the old way of doing things.

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