Photoblog: 05 Nov 2010
The Old Beijing is roughly rectangular, aligned to the compass points, a few km east-west and a few more north-south, slightly fatter at the southern end, where the outer city had been tacked on. Around it ran the city walls, and then the city moat.
Nowadays, the walls are mostly gone, and the moat now houses the circle line, line 2, of the underground railway. Above it runs the 2nd Ring Road, a congested ten lane motorway, the inner-most of Beijing's five beltways. Being right in the heart of the city, it has to cut carefully between ancient budhist temples and great glass office blocks, in the densest residential and business districts. It therefore has to try to serve both through traffic and local traffic, often with complicated layers of three lane + hard shoulder through-traffic carriageways separated from two lane local-traffic carriageways and then segregated bike paths, with miscellaneous official and illegal parking layers, and all the while crowds of pedestrians around the subway stops and office blocks, just trying to cross the road.
This stretch at Yonghegong felt like calm wilderness, compared to Dongzhimen, two stops down the line.