Observations on Board a Steamer from Singapore (May 3, 1882)


  • (May 3, 1882) During the voyage he carefully observed the people and things on board the steamer.
  • There were sixteen passengers. He was the only Filipino and the rest were Spaniards, British, and Indian negroes.
  • The captain of the ship, Donato Lecha befriended Rizal.
  • To kill boredom of the voyage, Rizal played chess with his fellow passengers. He then defeated them many times, for he was a good chess player.
  • On May 9, the Salvadora docked at Singapore. He then stayed at Hotel de la Paz and spent two days on a sightseeing soiree of the city.

  • He saw the famous Botanical Garden. The beautiful Buddhist templates, the busy shopping district, and the statue of Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles, who was the founder of Singapore.


  • After days of staying in Singapore, Rizal boarded the ship Djemnah, which was a French steamer and left Singapore for Europe on May 11. It was a larger and cleaner vessel which carried more passengers.
  • French was spoken on board and Rizal attempted to converse with his fellow passengers in French, but he found out that his book French could not be understood, so he spoke a mixed Spanish-Latin and with the help sketching on paper.

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    By conversing daily with the French passengers, he then was able to improve his knowledge of the French language.

  • On May 17, the Djemnah reached Point Galle, a seacoast town in southern Ceylon. Rizal was unimpressed by this town. The following day the voyage resumed towards Colombo, the capital of Ceylon. After a few hours of sailing, Rizal reached the city.

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    Rizal was amazed by Colombo because of this scenic beauty and elegant building.

Suez Canal

  • Through Suez Canal from Colombo, the Djemnah continued the voyage crossing the Indian Ocean to the Cape coast of Africa. Rizal sighted the barren coast of Africa, for the first time, which he called an inhospitable land but famous.
  • The next stopover was in Aden. He found the city, hotter than Manila and was amused to see the camels for it was also his first time seeing them.
  • From Aden the ship proceeded to the city of Suez, the Red Sea terminal of Suez Canal. Upon arrival, Rizal disembarked and went sightseeing. What impressed him most was the beautiful moonlight which reminded him of Calamba and his family.
  • The Djemnah took five days to traverse the Suez Canal. Rizal was thrilled because it was his first trip through this canal which was build by Ferdinand de Lasseps. At Port Said, Rizal landed in order to see the interesting sights. He was fascinated to hear multi-racial inhabitants speaking a wide variety of language.

Naples and Marseilles

  • From Port Said, the ship proceeded on its way to Europe. On June 11, Rizal reached Naples. This city pleased Rizal because of its business activity, its lively people and its scenic beauty. He was fascinated by the Mouth Vesuvius, the Castle of St. Telmo and other historic sights of the city.
  • The night of June 12, the steamer docked at the French harbor of Marseilles. Rizal bid farewell to his fellow passengers. He visited the famous Chateau d’ lf where Dantes, was imprisoned. He stayed two and a half days in Marsailles.


  • On the afternoon of May 15, Rizal left Marseilles to proceed to Spain via train. He crossed the Pyrenees and stopped for a day at the frontier town of Port Bou.
  • After the passport inspection at Port Bou, Rizal continued his trip by rail, finally reaching Barcelona on June 16, 1882. His first impression of Barcelona was unfavorable. He thought of it as an ugly, dirty and its residents are inhospitable. Later, he changed his impression and liked the city. He found it as a great city, with an atmosphere of freedom and liberalism.
  • He also found its people were open-hearted, hospitable, and courageous. He enjoyed promenading along Las Ramblas which was the famous street in Barcelona.
  • Filipinos in Barcelona were some of his classmates in Ateneo, welcomed him. They gave him a party at Café laza de Cataluna. After toasts, Rizal in turn gave them the latest news and gossips in the Philippines.
  • In Barcelona, Rizal wrote a nationalistic essay entitled “Amor Patrio” which was his first written article on Spain’s soil. He then sent his article to Basilio Teodoro Moran, publisher of Diariong Tagalog. Basilio was deeply impressed by the article congratulated Rizal and asked Rizal to publish more articles.
  • While living in Barcelona, Rizal received bad news about the cholera outbreak ravaging Manila and the provinces. Many people died and more were dying daily. Sad news was that his beloved Leonor Rivera was getting thinner because of the absence of her loved one. Also, Paciano advised Rizal to continue his medical course in Madrid. Heeding his advice, Rizal left Barcelona in the fall of 1882 and proceeded to Madrid.


  • On November 3, 1882, Rizal enrolled in the Universidad Central de Madrid. He took up took courses—Medicine and Philosophy and Letters. Aside from the two major courses, he also studied painting and sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando; he took lessons in French, German, and English under private instructors; and assiduously practiced fencing and shooting in the Hall of Arms of Sanz y Carbonell.
  •  Rizal lived a simple life in Madrid and knew that he came to Spain to study and prepare himself for the service of his fatherland. He budgets his money and time and never wasted a peseta for gambling, wine and women. On Saturday evening, he visits the home of Don Pablo Ortiga y Rey who lived with his son and daughter. Don Pablo has been city mayor of Manila.
  • Rizal then had a love affair with Consuelo Ortiga y Perez, the daughter of Don Pablo. Rizal, being a lonely man in a foreign country and far from his natal land, was attracted by Consuelo’s beauty and vivacity. Their love did not flourish because he was still engaged to Leonor Rivera and a friend of Rizal is also in-love with Consuelo.
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Observations on Board a Steamer from Singapore (May 3, 1882). (2016, Aug 24). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/rizals-travel-essay

Observations on Board a Steamer from Singapore (May 3, 1882)
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