Standing alone in the chilly wind in front of the winding Great Wall with hands jammed into his pockets, US President Barack Obama enjoyed a moment of peace after wrapping up his four-day tightly scheduled visit to China Wednesday afternoon.
"It's magical. It reminds you of the sweep of history," Obama said to the press after he walked back to the crowd. He then went to the sidewall to enjoy more of the view of the Chinese architectural wonder.
"It gives you a good perspective that a lot of day-to-day things we worry about don't matter so much Our time here on Earth is not that long. We better make the best of it," Obama said.
Dressed in a black winter jacket, Obama took about 20 minutes to quickly tour the Badaling Great Wall, the most well-preserved section of the wall built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
After a 50-minute visit to the Forbidden City on Tuesday, the historic former home of China's emperors, Obama visited the Great Wall, his second sightseeing tour during his visit to China.
Due to his limited time, Obama skipped the plan to climb to Badaling's Tower Four and instead stopped at Tower Three.
"If Obama reaches Tower Four, he will become the first US president to scale that high," Zhang Min, the media official from the Badaling Great Wall tourism administration, told China Daily yesterday.
Regarded as the one of the world's greatest wonders, almost all the visiting foreign leaders to Beijing have climbed the Great Wall to experience the historic Chinese civilization, including former US president Richard Nixon who visited the same spot in 1972 during his historic trip to China.
On a similar cold and clear day, Nixon said at the same steep: "My hope is that in the future, perhaps as a result of the beginning that we have made on this journey, that many, many Americans ... will have an opportunity to come here."
Nixon said he hoped "that they will think back as I think back to the history of this great people, and that they will have an opportunity, as we have had an opportunity, to know the Chinese people better."
After 37 years, a "positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship" is developing between the first and the third largest economies in the world, Obama said at the recent G20 summit.
Satisfied with the first China trip, Obama said that he wished he could have stayed longer at the Great Wall.
"I am inspired by the majesty of the Great Wall, and am grateful for the warmth of the Chinese people," Obama wrote on the official guestbook at the site before leaving for the Republic of Korea, the last stop for his eight-day Asia tour.
Accompanied by the Chinese ambassador to the US, Zhou Wenzhong, and US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Obama became the 460th foreign leader to visit the ancient fortification since the Badaling section was open to visitors in 1954, according to the local tourism administration.