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Hong Kong’s famous floating cafe sinks at sea

(VFAB) — An iconic Hong Kong floating cafe has sunk, just times after it was towed out to sea en route to an unspecified destination.

Jumbo Kingdom, a a few-tale vessel,  was towed absent by tugboats previous Tuesday right after virtually half a century moored in the city’s Aberdeen Harbor. Its proprietors said they lacked cash to retain it after months of COVID-19 limits and could not find a purchaser.

The restaurant’s main boat was touring to an undisclosed shipyard when it capsized on Saturday soon after meeting “adverse conditions” in close proximity to the Paracel Islands (also identified as the Xisha Islands) in the South China Sea, Aberdeen Cafe Enterprises Confined reported in a statement Monday.

The boat sank additional than 3,000 feet, generating salvage perform “extremely tough,” the statement stated.

It added that Aberdeen Cafe Enterprises was “very saddened by this accident,” and was working to gather additional details from the towing company. No crew associates had been wounded.

The information was met with consternation on line, with many Hong Kong social media end users bemoaning the inelegant finish to one of Hong Kong’s most recognized historic icons. Some posted art depicting the cafe underwater, whilst other people shared farewell messages or fond memories of visits previous.

Many others saw the sinking ship as a darkly comic metaphor for Hong Kong’s alleged fortunes, as the metropolis — however mainly shut off from the relaxation of the globe — clings to pandemic constraints following many yrs of political turmoil.

The 260-foot-prolonged cafe, recognized in 1976, was the key boat of Jumbo Kingdom, an operation that integrated an older and smaller sized sister cafe boat, a barge for seafood tanks, a kitchen boat, and 8 smaller ferries to transport visitors from close by piers. It could provide 2,000 patrons at a time.

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Jumbo Kingdom, which at 1 time was the world’s most significant floating restaurant, starred in many Hong Kong and worldwide movies, such as “Enter the Dragon”  and the James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun.” It hosted going to luminaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, Jimmy Carter and Tom Cruise.

The restaurant, which was only accessible through smaller Jumbo-branded ferries, was famous for its lavish Imperial-design façade, plentiful neon lights, significant specially commissioned paintings in the stairwell and its colourful Chinese-design motifs — including a golden throne in the dining corridor.

“A cafe on this scale on a floating structure is fairly one of a kind in the earth,” said Charles Lai, an architect and founder of Hong Kong Architectural Record in the course of an interview with VFAB before this month.

“If we appear at the historic context, it was constructed at a time when this imperial-fashion Chinese aesthetic was not even inspired in China (“Old Things” were to be taken off throughout the Cultural Revolution). So Jumbo Kingdom mirrored how Chinese in Hong Kong then experienced a bigger yearning or enthusiasm for these aged Chinese traditions,” explained Lai.

“It (also) displays the close relation and heritage Hong Kong has with the sea.”

But as the fishing inhabitants in the island’s southern harbor dwindled, the restaurant group grew to become considerably less well-liked, and had been suffering a deficit considering that 2013.

The pandemic dealt the final blow, with Jumbo’s proprietors announcing in March 2020 they experienced gathered losses of more than $13 million and the cafe would be closed right up until even more notice.

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Various proposals experienced been put ahead to help you save the historic icon, but its significant upkeep charge experienced deterred possible buyers, with Hong Kong Main Executive Carrie Lam also ruling out a prospective federal government bailout to help you save the attraction.

With no a “white knight” rescuer that the city experienced been waiting around for, the owner’s made a decision to move the Jumbo Floating Cafe, the principal boat, to an undisclosed shipyard in advance of its functioning license expired at the finish of June.

Tai Pak, the scaled-down and older boat courting again to 1952, as properly as a lately capsized kitchen area boat, stay docked in the harbor.

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