Arrived yesterday morning for the first day of my four day trip to the Olympics. Am with Hugh Robertson and we are seeing what lessons we need to learn for London 2012.
The first question that crossed my mind was "have I landed in the right country?" The last time I came here was 12 years ago, when Beijing was a grey, bland monument to totalitarian brutalism. This time it felt more like arriving in Japan. A brand new Norman Foster-designed airport made Terminal 5 seem like a shed in the back garden. Helpful signs in English everywhere. And everyone smiling...not the Beijing - or indeed the China - that I had imprinted on my mind from backpacking days.
Sure there are signs of the ancien regime - but you do have to dig a bit. I cannot access ConservativeHome, the bible for MPs travelling abroad, let alone websites for Falun Gong or Free Tibet. But mostly what comes across is a country renewing itself with the extraordinary (and scary) fervour of one of the newest members of the capitalist club.
Yesterday I went to the rowing, a 40 minute drive from the centre of Beijing. This is one of our strongest sports, and I was thrilled to see Britain win two bronzes and a gold. Nothing quite prepares you for the emotion of hearing the national anthem played on foreign soil - like every Brit there I confess I had a real tingle in the spine. Thank you to Steve Williams, Tom James, Andy Hodge and Peter Reed in the Men's 4 who made it happen - and gave me a little Olympic magic on my first day.
> Jeremy Hunt MP: The ten questions I'll be seeking to answer in Beijing