04 Marseille to Saigon

3 to 28 July, 1887



4. Marseille to Saigon *

3 July, to 28 July, 1887

 First day (3 July 1887)

We departed from Marseille at 10:30 Sunday.  The weather was good.  The sea was calm.  Few people.  The second class dining table is not as good as before.  They have stolen my binoculars.  When I wanted to get them to see the cost I could not find them.  I have complained.  The sea has a beautiful blue color.  There are 3 Chinese, 2 Japanese, 2 Filipinos, and I.  There are some young women all of whom are French.  Until now I do not see any German or English women.  There is one Englishman.  The “p” [01] who accompanies the Chinese seems very “p.”

We are surrounded by a mist

2nd day (4th).

The sea is fairly calm; we stop and at our right is Sardinia.

Paris 40.30 – 8.50 – 3.19

3rd day  37.41 – 13.56 – 316

3rd day.

37.41 – 13.56 – 316

In the morning we pass near Sicily through the Strait of Messina.

4th day.

The sea begins to get rough.

35 o27’30” – 19.48 – 324 – In the afternoon we pass near Candia [02] which we discern vaguely in the distance.  In addition there are two Germans; one of them is going as far as the Philippines.  One of them thinks that Shakespeare is the greatest tragedian and Goethe is the greatest lyric poet.

5th day

33o17 – 25o38 – 327

The sea is rougher.  My head aches and I am beginning to get seasick.

A. R. Venning [03]




6th day

At 8:00 o’clock this morning we arrive at Port Said.  We go down and tour the city.  It seemed to me less beautiful and lonelier than 5 years ago.  Altogether we spent about 5 francs.  Ata 12:00 we continue our voyage.

7th day

At 10:00 o’clock in the morning we arrive at Suez.  Various peddlers came on board.  I bought some articles made of sandalwood, or so the venders said.

8th day Sunday

We are in the Red Sea whose waters are blue.  It is rougher than five years ago.

9th day – Monday

It is hot.  Perspiration is terrible. [04] On the boat are two coarse gentlemen talking in insulting language the whole day. [05]

10th day – Tuesday

Last night many of us slept on the deck.  The heat continues.

We talk of Victor Hugo.

11th day – Wednesday

We arrive at Aden at 2:00 in the afternoon. [06] The sea is green.


12th day (14 July)

Day of the Republic (of France)

An English warship and a French warship, both dressed, in front of Aden.  The English warship has hoisted a French flag to the top of the second pole.

On our ship there is noting to be seen but French flags and buntings, one of them looking like the blue and white of Bavaria.  Last night there was a change in the wind.  It was so strong that it awakened us.  The English mail boat arrived greeting us with cannon shots, three they say, but I heard only two.

At 2:00 o’clock we departed from Aden.  The sea is quite rough.  One passenger disembarked and three embarked.

18 July, Monday, 16th day of the voyage.

The weather was so bad during the last days that I got seasick – Now, at 12:25 the engine stopped and for an hour and a half we navigated by sail.  They have made preparations to catch a shark.  Let us see what will happen.

On the 21, Thursday

In the morning we arrive at Colombo.  At 4:00 o’clock I bought a hat.

22 July

We are still in the harbor of Colombo.  We will depart at 10:00 o’clock in the morning. [07] The general, Mr. Watson Agnel, and his family and a Breton doctor have left for India. [08] Yesterday we, Frntz and I, Messrs. Soyema and Naganu, were at Colombo to visit the temple of Buddha.  In the garden, Arabi Pach was sleeping.  I took coffee and lemonade.  I am not in very good health.

25 July, Monday

This morning at 9:30 we saw the island of Pulo Brat.  The sea has become completely calm and we sail along the coasts of a multitude of islands including Sumatra.  The passengers have become calm again.  Last night the ship moved in such a way that I fell from my deck chair.  The commander is always courteous and the judge is very dirty.  The magic mirror of the Japanese – Taicosama. – It is expected that we will be in the Strait of Malacca in the morning and in the evening in Singapore.

Mrs. Irene Trine

Don’t be deceitful, don’t be disturbed, don’t dream –

Carry, defiantly triumphant –

Away, the dreamy look –

Wipe off the tears of tragic distress –

Drink down trickling, refreshing

Bunch of grapes [09]

26 July, Tuesday

This morning when we woke up the sea was smooth like a mirror.  We will arrive at Singapore in the morning.

On the sea when the sky is dark, so also is the water, like two great beings who love each other, they mutually reflect the infinite.

In the afternoon a ray fish had the bad luck of bumping against the prow of the ship.  It was 8.35 meters long.  It was a male.

Thursday, 28 July

This morning at 6:00 o’clock we leave Singapore which we visited yesterday.  Alas, the first foreign city I saw, did not impress me much.  I visited again the Botanical Garden where I saw a beautiful specimen of the Royal Victoria.  The leaves can be one meter in diameter. [10]

This morning a butterfly has been following us since
Singapore for more than 4 hours.  The butterfly was flying beside the ship trying as much as possible to go at the ship’s velocity.  Annamites brought horses, parrots, cockatoo, and insect leaves.  The insect-leaf is admirable.  It seems that Nature as a game or pastime fore its amusement has imitated particularly the leaf in making it.  The Annamites wear a kind of turban, a long black Chinese shirt and long and wide trousers.  They have much of the Mongolian physiognomy.  Our commander’s name is Vatier.

29 Friday

The sea is fairly calm although there are some waves on the surface.  The boat hardly vibrates.

30 July 1887 – Saturday

This morning at 3:00 o’clock we cast anchor in front of Saigon, waiting for the dawn to enter the river whose name I don’t know.

We enter.  The river is wide.  Its low banks are planted with small trees.

Many houses along the river recall those of the Pasig Nipa houses.

The judge who was traveling with us behaved like a dirty swine during the voyage and kept on his top had which made him look taller.

Last night I dreamt that my father and I met; he was pale and thinner than usual.  When I was about to embrace him, he withdrew pointing to me something on the floor.  I looked and I saw the head of a black stag and a large snake which moved to entwine me.  I see if I shall laugh again at dreams.

At 10:00 o’clock of the 1st of August the Djemnah left Saigon.  From the bridge of our ship Mr. Frentz and I saluted it.  It seems to me that there will be no more passengers than Mr. Frentz, two women, and I.

There are many Filipinos.  A young man, Paul Seinauer, studies gratis at the College. 


* This is Rizal’s diary of his return to the Philippines after the publication of his novel, Noli me tangere.  The translator used a Photostat of the original.

[01] “P” is a code for “prostitute.”

[02] Often called Crete, an island in the East Mediterranean.

[03] Perhaps this is the name and address of a fellow passenger.

[04] This entry is written in French.

[05] This entry is written in German

[06] This entry is written in Italian.  Rizal writes in different languages so as not to forget them.

[07] This entry is in German.

[08] This last clause is in French.

[09] Translation from the German by Professor Cecilio López, University of the Philippines.  This is perhaps just an exercise in German composition.

[10] A remarkable aquatic plant of the water-lily family with spreading leaves often over 5 feet in diameter and immense rose-white flowers.



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