Hong Kong’s iconic Jumbo floating restaurant sinks into the sea


(CNN) — Jumbo Kingdom, Hong Kong’s iconic floating restaurant, sank just days after it was towed out to sea en route to an unspecified destination.

The great three-story boatwhose exterior had the style of a Chinese imperial palace, was dragged by several tugboats last Tuesday, after spending almost half a century in the waters southwest of the city.

The restaurant’s lead ship was traveling to an undisclosed shipyard when it capsized Saturday after encountering “adverse conditions” near the Paracel Islands — also known as the Xisha Islands — in the South China Sea, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Limited reported. in a statement Monday.

This photo of the Jumbo Kingdom in Hong Kong was taken in 2014. (Credit: Bruce Yan/South China Morning Post/Getty Images)

The boat sank more than 1,000 meters, the statement said, making the rescue job “extremely difficult”, it added.

According to the statement, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises was “very affected by this accident” and was working to gather more details about the towing company. No crew member was injured.

Uproar on the internet over the sinking of the Hong Kong Jumbo

The news about the popular Jumbo Kingdom caused consternation on the internet. Indeed, many Hong Kong social media users lamented the inelegant end to one of the region’s most recognizable historical icons. Some posted artwork depicting the restaurant underwater, while others shared farewell messages or fond memories of previous visits.

Others interpreted the sinking of the ship as a darkly comical metaphor for the supposed “fortunes” of Hong Kong, as the city ––which remains largely isolated from the rest of the world–– clings to the restrictions of the pandemic after several years of political turmoil.

The restaurant, about 80 meters long, was the main ship of Jumbo Kingdom, an establishment with capacity for more than 2,000 people. The complex included another smaller, older restaurant ship, a shellfish tank barge, a kitchen ship, and eight small ferries to transport visitors from nearby docks.

From movies to visitors like Queen Elizabeth

Jumbo Kingdom, at one point the world’s largest floating restaurant, has starred in many Hong Kong and international films. Between them, enter the dragon, which starred Bruce Lee, and James Bond: The Man with the Golden Gun. It also received illustrious visitors such as Queen Elizabeth II, Jimmy Carter and Tom Cruise.

The restaurant was only accessible via small Jumbo-branded ferries. And it was famous for its lavish imperial-style façade, its abundant neon lights, its huge paintings that were specially commissioned to fill the stairwell, and its colorful Chinese-style motifs. Including a golden throne in the dining room.

Jumbo restaurant was “quite unique in the world”

Jumbo Kingdom: the world’s largest floating restaurant 2:55

“A restaurant of this magnitude on a floating structure is quite unique in the world,” said Charles Lai, architect and founder of Hong Kong Architectural History during an interview with CNN earlier this month.

“If we look at the historical context, it was built at a time when this imperial-style Chinese aesthetic was not even encouraged in China (“old things” were supposed to be removed during the Cultural Revolution). So Jumbo Kingdom reflected how the Chinese in Hong Kong I had a greater yearning or passion for these ancient Chinese traditions,” Lai explained.

“(It) also reflects Hong Kong’s close relationship and history with the sea.”

But, as the fishing population in the island’s southern port dwindled, the Jumbo Kingdom lost popularity and had been in deficit since 2013.

Then the pandemic dealt the final blow. The restaurant’s owners announced in March 2020 that they had accumulated losses of more than $13 million and that the restaurant would be closed until further notice.

Several proposals were put forward to save the historic icon, but its high maintenance cost deterred potential investors. In addition, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has also ruled out a possible government bailout of the Jumbo Kingdom.

Without the savior the city had been hoping for, the owners decided to move the Jumbo floating restaurant, the lead ship, to an undisclosed shipyard before its operating license expired at the end of June.

Tai Pak, the smallest and oldest ship dating from 1952, as well as a recently capsized kitchen ship, remain berthed at the port.

Maggie Hiufu Wong contributed to this report.





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