Our trip began on July 2nd, a Thursday afternoon.

Our crew was rushing out of the office, pushing each other to hurry up! In minutes we concluded our meetings, shut down our laptops and ran out of the building as fast as we could. We all turned up on time – which was indeed quite a miracle for a group of almost 300 colleagues.

When we got on the train, most of us started searching for our cabins. We wanted to find out who our cabinmates were. I hopped from compartment to compartment to see what the other guys were doing. Some were playing cards, snacking, gossiping. With the noise we made, one could think one was at a bazaar (not on a train). Most of us spent the night mingling. Looking back, it was a good opportunity to get to know each other outside work. People were relaxed and enjoyed the companionship. I think it was fun for all of us.

We arrived in Lushan in the morning and headed to the hotel to freshen up. Dawn had just broken in the east. After the long party-in-the-tin-can journey, we enjoyed breakfast and our cozy rooms where we got some rest. Then we set off for our first destination.

It took about an hour to climb the mountain to admire a magnificent Buddha statue. For those among us who are Buddhists, we humbled ourselves to show respect before the Almighty. After that, we raced to see who could reach the top first. Again humility; a sweeping view and the imposing statue. A moment of peacefulness, of depth, of escape from our busy lives.

Under a scorching afternoon sun, we headed for something fun: arriving at the water park one could feel the adrenaline start pumping. We all got wet immediately while hopping on the raft. Then we splashed each other soaking wet – and believe me – neither age, sex or rank played a role in this. Everyone was a target. Suddenly, everyone turned into a child. We fought relentlessly with water guns or pails or whatever we had. Some even used their shoes to scoop and splash water at their ‘enemies’. As we tumbled and fell in the fast stream, the cool, refreshing water kept our spirits high. None of us were able to escape – all who tried were summoned back to the water. We had a lot of fun.

That night we began the serious topic of reporting MANN+HUMMEL China’s performance during the first half of 2015. The leaders took turns explaining what had happened the last six months and the outlook going forward. Our efforts and accomplishments were pointed out and we prepared for upcoming challenges.

After the serious topics, we came to the more casual part of the event, including singing performances of various departments, hilarious cabarets and beautiful dances. The last stage was the management bidding adieu to Philippe with the song “Friends”. Glasses were raised honoring Philippe, thanking him for his guidance and leadership. The night ended with karaoke sessions, mahjong and/or supper. It was a good evening!

The next morning, we set off for Lushan. In China, Lushan is famous and considered to be a target for mountain expeditions. It took almost two hours to get to the top.

We were greeted by strong gusts and unpredictable rainfall. The drizzling weather was a total change to the warmth far below. The altitude was around 1000 meters. With disposable raincoats, we walked against the strong wind. Standing at the edge of the cliff, the view was remarkable. The beauty was indescribable. With clouds and mist surrounding the plateau, it seemed that this must be a place where goblins and fairies live. Selfies, group photos and SLR shooting; everyone started taking Pictures.

After a strenuous hike we had lunch in the mountains. The stone chicken (which is actually frog), stone fish (translucent small fish) and stone mushrooms were the famous delicacies served. Fresh ingredients presented in mouth-watering local styles. The chef was overwhelming and we felt blessed to be able to enjoy this meal. Before we headed back to the water park, we did some sight-seeing.

Everybody had a great time during this trip.