US first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia and Sasha visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in suburban Beijing on Sunday and became a heroine, if an old Chinese saying is to be believed – “You’re no hero until you reach the Great Wall.”
Sunday is the fourth day of Obama’s first China visit. Upon her arrival, Obama signed her name on a guest book and wrote: “My family and I will treasure this visit. It is truly a privilege and an honor to experience this wonder.” Before the hike on the Great Wall, Obama and her family attended a luncheon at the Schoolhouse restaurant named “Xiaoyuan”, a dining and lodging venue known for its food and community improvement work. The Schoolhouse was set up by US citizens. The family had a private meal in one of the Schoolhouse’s “classrooms”.
At about 3 pm in the afternoon, Michelle Obama accompanied by her daughters, Malia and Sasha, hiked on the wall for about an hour. After mounting the Great Wall to gaze into the distance, the US First Lady will be amazed by the magnificent view and the boundless culture of China.
The Mutianyu Great Wall lies in Huairou District, 73 kilometers from Beijing proper. It is a superb location to appreciate the grandness of the Great Wall as well as to avoid the crowds at Badaling. The Mutianyu section, 2,500 meters (2,734 yards) long, connects the Juyongguan Pass in the west and Gubeikou in the east. Rimmed by mountains, it is filled with beautiful flowers in spring; abundantly verdant in summer; charming with red-leafed maple trees in autumn and enchanting covered in pure white snow in winter.
The Mutianyu section has its own characteristics. The coping on both sides of the wall has parapets and battlements, which made it possible to repel foes from either side. The bases of the indented battlements have square holes arched at the top from which soldiers shot at the besiegers. Additional walls with watchtowers were built in order to relieve the enemy’s assault on the main wall which is densely distributed with watchtowers, twenty-two in total. The wall runs up and down following the contours of the steep mountainsides. In Zhengguantai, three watchtowers stand on the same terrace, a rare occurrence in the structure of the Great Wall.