My gift to Olympic visitors: great web-based PDF map of Beijing

English-language maps of Beijing are not so plentiful, so comprehensible, or so reliable that the existence of a good one should go unmentioned.  Illustration: when my wife and I inquired at an official Olympic Visitors Center booth on Jianguo Lu about getting to the Shunyi rowing center, we were given a map that showed a subway line going straight to that site. Only imperfection: no such line exists.*

This very detailed map, from MapMatrix, is a 4.6MB PDF file with the following virtues: It is zoom-able, so that as you look at a certain neighborhood the street names appear. It is pan-able, so you can see an overview of the whole city and understand relative locations. And it is search-able, which is a true godsend.

You want to know where Yabao Lu is? You enter that in the search or find box, and it pops up on the map. (In Adobe Acrobat, it seems that the map must be zoomed-in enough to display the text you're searching for. With Apple's Preview, the search seems to work at any zoom level.)

Weller Cartographic offers this and similar maps free, but gently requests a $2 - $5 contribution to underwrite its efforts. That's less than 14 - 35 RMB -- and I've paid much, much more than that for much, much worse Chinese city maps. I've chipped in and hope others will too.

* For locals: the map actually showed a direct subway line from Sihui station, on Line 1, right up to Shunyi. I threw it away in irritation so can no longer show a picture of it, but that is honest-to-God the info the BOCOG volunteer guides gave us.  Update: I hear that the line in question is part of future Beijing Metro plans -- and that maps are printed up with future lines included, for more informed real-estate planning and so on. Fair enough! But the volunteers at the site reassured us, very cheerily and in both Chinese and English, that that was the right way to get to the Shunyi park the next day -- not ten years from now.