(AP) BEIJING President Barack Obama absorbed history's expanse Wednesday from atop the Great Wall of China, a manmade wonder of such enormity that Obama found himself putting daily life in perspective.
"It's magical," Obama said, walking down a ramp alone, his hands in his pockets. "It reminds you of the sweep of history and our time here on earth is not that long. We better make the best of it."
A must-see for presidents from President Richard Nixon on, the Great Wall was one of Obama's major sightseeing stops during his diplomatic tour of Asia. He later traveled to Seoul, South Korea, the final stop of his eight-day trip.
Dressed in a winter jacket against a biting wind at the Great Wall, Obama led a knot of people for a half-hour jaunt up the crenelated wall toward a watchtower, a restored section originally built 500 years ago.
Obama walked down the last ramp by himself in a choreographed moment for photographers. White House aides were exultant afterward that "the shot" they had planned turned out perfectly.
The earliest sections of the wall were built more than 2,000 years ago. From the portion where Obama stood, the mountainside vistas were majestic.
Obama's tourism breaks at the Great Wall and the Forbidden City's former imperial palaces on Tuesday were the only diversions on an eight-day Asia trip meant to show U.S. reengagement with the region.
Check out photos of Obama's visit as well as visits by other U.S. leaders over the years.