After an early breakfast, our day began with the opportunity to watch National Geographic Resolution make our first docking of the expedition along the pier at Kota Kinabalu. We soon discovered that a special surprise was in store when we were greeted at the pier by traditional Malaysian dancers and drummers who put on a show as we waited to disembark. As we walked down the gangway, each of us received a hand-beaded necklace from the welcoming committee as well as the chance to take photos with the dancers wearing ceremonial dress.

After boarding two coaches, we began our adventure to Mt. Kinabalu National Park, a temperate cloud forest that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 for its rich biodiversity and unique ecosystem. A winding ascent led us to the park entrance at 1500 meters elevation and a climate necessitating rain jackets and an extra layer. It didn’t take long before the rain jackets were needed when the rainforest lived up to its name as we hiked the trails!

Our local guides, Ben and Alvin, provided local history and environmental knowledge of this unique ecosystem. We were in awe of the lush flora and fauna within the park, including an amazing number of orchid species, ferns, mosses, and one dramatic leech. Our tour included the botanical gardens and focused on the preservation work in the park. Following lunch, it was time to begin our return to the ship, and we made our way back down the mountain.

This first look at Malaysian Borneo has us excited for what is to come on our expedition.

Photographers: Susan Tate and Susannah Remillard, 2023 Grosvenor Teacher Fellows