Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Reminder of the Sea Palace, Aberdeen Harbour

If you have read my post about the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen Harbour, then you should already recognise the name of the two restaurants that are still there - the aforementioned Tai Pak and its younger, bigger brother the Jumbo. Both of which now form what is known as the Jumbo Kingdom.

However, for a time there were more than just those two places. There was also a third, equally extravagant in appearance, called the Sea Palace. I don't have a picture of it myself because the Sea Palace had already gone before I had even set foot in this great territory but, for those interested, here is a link to that features it and, of course, fans of my Film Locations blog will probably know that the Sea Palace can be seen on screen next to the Tai Pak in the following screencap from Enter the Dragon (it's the one with the orange roof).

I don’t know when the Sea Palace eventually disappeared but various people have mentioned that it was sold and then towed away to either Australia the Phillipines or perhaps Timbuktu, no one seems to have a definitive answer.

Anyway, if you have ever visited Aberdeen – particularly the Shum Wan Road area where the restaurant pontoons are tied up – you will notice that despite there only being two restaurants now, there are three pontoons. One is for access to the Tai Pak, the other for Jumbo (but actually you can walk across a small gantry between the two anyway) and the third one is the spare pontoon that all the sampan owners tie up to so that tourists can hop on and off for the rides around the harbour.

I decided to snap a picture of the third, spare, pontoon a while back because something about it caught my eye and I am sure that you can already guess what it was I saw.

Okay, it’s a bit hard to spot because it’s partly concealed (at least the English part is) – but have a look above the archway at the front and you'll see this.

Okay, it’s a bit unloved these days and falling to bits but as you can see this is the old pontoon for the Sea Palace.

What I am confused about though is the name. Obviously we can see (most of) the Sea Palace name in English, but the Chinese above it actually says (I think?) "To Jumbo Restaurant". So, that has me wondering when the Sea Palace was removed. Were all three restaurants around at the same time at some point and the Jumbo could be reached from both it's own pontoon and the Sea Palace? Or perhaps this is a case of the pontoon being re-used but the people responsible either couldn't or wouldn't get rid/change the English version of the name?

Anyway, lucky for us they didn't because other than photos this seems to be the only reminder that it was even there.

EDIT: A quick addendum to this post courtesy of my good friend and major source of local information for me, Thomas Ngan. He has sent me a message telling me that this pontoon in Sham Wan is not the only remnant. Also the piers located along the waterfront promenade in Aberdeen proper also have their own reminder of the Sea Palace. Here it is below with the original restaurant name in Chinese (photo courtesy of Thomas).


  1. Hi Phil,
    The two big Chinese characters in the middle are "Jumbo", and the two smaller ones on the sides are "Palace". Chinese Wikipedia says that Sea Palace was renamed Jumbo Palace in 1991.

    1. Hi C
      Aha, many thanks. That really answers two questions because I guess it was still around in 1991 and therefore Jumbo Kingdom must have included all three places.

  2. Sea Palace is also seen in movie "The World of Suzie Wong"

    1. Correct. You can see it on my other blog here: