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First Lady Visits Great Wall

Rounding out the Beijing leg of her trip, Michelle Obama spoke about the importance of education and then took a walk along one of the Wonders of the World.

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BEIJING — Rounding out the Beijing leg of her trip to China, First Lady Michelle Obama started Sunday by speaking about the importance of education and then zoomed over to the Great Wall to walk along one of the Wonders of the World.

This morning the First Lady traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to meet with Chinese educators, parents and students to discuss the importance of education. Obama — clad in a magenta blouse, according to pool reports — was joined at the round table by the U.S. ambassador Max Baucus.

After the roundtable discussion, the First Lady and her entourage were able to zip through what are usually notoriously traffic-clogged streets of Beijing, since the ring roads have been closed off to all other traffic. Her motorcade occasionally hit speeds of 80 miles an hour, pool reports noted.

They stopped in the village of Mutianyu, at the School House restaurant. According to news officials, the first family ordered Chinese noodles, dumplings and salads, among other dishes.

After lunch, Obama and her daughters and mother took a gondola up from the village to a high point on the Mutianyu Great Wall, near Tower 14. The First Lady had changed out of her magenta blouse into an all-black outfit, including black leather shoes. Her daughter Sasha wore a blue T-shirt that read “Merci Beau Coup.”

RELATED STORY: The First Lady Talks Freedom >>


Speaking of T-shirts, reporters accompanying the First Lady heard that the hordes of T-shirt vendors in the parking lot near the gondola terminus had been told to temporarily stop selling one with an image of President Obama in a Mao hat. The rumor turned out to be true.

Not that the First Lady and her daughters ever saw the vendors — they didn’t take the gondola back down from the Great Wall. Instead they took an alternative method — toboggan rides controlled by a hand brake that snake via a track down the mountainside back into the village. They then zoomed back via motorcade to Beijing.

The Chinese press largely avoided reporting on Obama’s calls for free expression and universal rights a day earlier, but have chronicled the more routine aspects of her trip, especially food, in great detail. When the First Lady spoke Saturday at Peking University about the need for universal rights and freedom of expression, she wore a multicolor abstract print Carolina Herrera silk dress.

Obama, who is on a week-long spring break trip with her daughters, Sasha and Malia, and her mother Marian Robinson, continued the Beijing leg of her excursion. The Chinese press discussed the potential high costs of her hotel blocks in the Westin Hotel Chaoyang Branch. (Former President George H.W. Bush also stayed there when it first opened for the 2008 Olympics).

Media reports have centered on the Obama entourage’s dining preferences, noting they chose the lean, healthier duck choice on one occasion.

On Sunday, the China Daily newspaper ran a detailed list of dishes served to Obama’s mother and daughters on Saturday evening at the famous Da Dong Peking duck restaurant. The First Lady did not attend the meal, the paper noted, and her husband had canceled his visit for unknown reasons when he was last in China.

The family leaves for Xi’an Monday, then Chengdu.

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