At 4 o’clock the light beacon of Horsburgh became visible and at a quarter before 9 o’clock the anchors were dropped in the roads of Singapore.
The Belgian consul general M. J. de Bernard de Fauconval, still representing our consular affairs here, representatives from the English government and suppliers soon brought messages from Europe on board that were immediately reported to me in my sick bed.
The last messages we received from home, namely in Sydney, dated from the start of the month of April and the most recent Viennese newspapers carried the date of 6 April. Since then, we had been left without news, apparently due to misdirection of the mail. During our long journey through the Melanesian islands to Singapore, we had constantly guessed when and where we would encounter our mail. Before each call at a harbor in which the mail might have been waiting for us, our expectations about this served as a general topic of conversation and the commissary officer was overwhelmed with questions about the higher or lower probability of satisfying our hopes and was blamed, in advance, for any disappointments. Unfortunately, the latter did occur!
We had heavily counted upon to find a mail package already in Thursday Island or, for instance, in Amboina — but each time in vain! How bitter it is to travel for four and a half months without receiving even the tiniest news from home can only be appreciated by those who can feel the joy in the hearts of those, thousands of miles away from home, who receive a new voluminous mail package on board — a mail package that contains letters and with them the assurance that many a dear being at home has not forgotten the distant traveller.
Some of the messages brought on board by the consul general were in way positive. Apart from the rumor that a revolution had occurred in Paris and the information that the English admiral’s ship „Victoria“ did sink with a loss of life in the waves of over 400 brave sailors, we were informed that the political situation in Siam was now in a state that it was questionable whether it was a sound idea for us to pay a visit to Bangkok. It was said that the French government talked about setting up a blockade and that the Siamese thought about resisting energetically and had already blocked the river Menam with ships sunk for that purpose. Multiple French troop transport ships and gun boats had been rushed there. Given the tense situation, a declaration of war could happen at any moment.
I immediately telegraphed Coudenhove, legation secretary of our embassy in Tokyo staying in Bangkok, to send authentic information about the recent entanglements. He answered however that the King of Siam was definitely expecting my visit. During the day, a Siamese officer named Luang Visadh Parihar came on board on behalf of his government to seek information about my intentions, and this messenger was announced our probable arrival in Bangkok.
During the day we had to remain in the roads as the New Harbor where coal is usually loaded was so overcrowded with ships that we could not enter.