Pandas, Tai Chi and Ping Pong: What Michelle Obama Did in China

Mar 26, 2014 2:23pm

AP michelle obama great wall china jt 140323 16x9 608 Pandas, Tai Chi and Ping Pong: What Michelle Obama Did in China

Credit: Andy Wong/AP Photo

It’s spring break for America’s First Daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama. So like countless moms across the nation, First Lady Michelle Obama took them on holiday. (Dad’s on a business trip: a nuclear security summit at The Hague.)

With grandma Michelle Robinson in tow, the first lady and first daughters jetted off to China for a week of sightseeing.

After a surprise meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the four Obama women hit several of the country’s premier tourist attractions — the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an, the Forbidden City — but made time for some less conventional activities as well.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Looking remarkably fresh after her 20-hour flight to Beijing, the first lady engaged in a little ping-pong diplomacy.

As the Chinese first lady, Madam Peng Liyuan, looked on, Mrs. Obama went paddle-to-paddle with a student from the Beijing Normal School.

“I tried my hand at ping pong — not so good,” the first lady announced in her travel blog. “I think she may have gone easy on me, just to be nice.”

Continuing the trip’s athletic bent, Mrs. Obama stretched her limbs in a tai chi class in Chengdu.

“Tai chi … is a truly beautiful form of physical activity, and I loved giving it a try,” she wrote in her blog. (By now, the first lady is no stranger to exercising in public: she frequently leads workout sessions on the White House lawn.)

Before winging her way back to the U.S. on Wednesday, the first lady visited the Chengdu Panda Base, home to more than 50 giant pandas. White House video reveals Mrs. Obama and her daughters cooing over five cuddly bears chomping on bamboo.

“Aw, they’re chowing down!” Mrs. Obama said.

The pandas may not have known they were in the presence of an international celebrity, but the first lady’s appearance delighted them nonetheless: Mrs. Obama and her mother fed the pandas apples by dangling the fruit from long sticks.

 

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