Fast plane to China
Our group of 18 assorted nursery owners, teachers, heads and early years professionals (plus me, Liz Roberts, NW editor, and Zhang, our Chinese tour leader) is perhaps still a little jet-lagged, but our first couple of days have been amazing.
Shanghai is a huge and fascinating city, with high-rise buildings springing up in a couple of weeks, and a few areas where the old houses remain - for the moment.
The pace of change in Chinese society is frighteningly rapid too, with medicine and education at the forefront of privatisation, and the ramifications of the one child policy becoming evident as the population becomes an increasingly ageing one.
Today we visited the Shanghai museum, with its collections of jade, bronzes, statues and porcelain, then a silk factory where we saw how the process moves from silk worms to beautiful bedding and clothes (and quite a few of us just had to buy some!)
Our meals are communal, with endless dishes that arrive, most quite unlike the Chinese food we have eaten in the UK.
Tomorrow we visit a state kindergarten for two- to five-year-olds in Shanghai, then move on to Suzhou, where we will go to a child development centre for under-twos.
I'll blog on these visits soon, internet access depending. Several of us were perturbed to realise that there is no Twitter in China (though the NW team will post some tweets that I send by other means).