The True Sea Bajau People

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33 stunning images shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards 2017

Tom Jacobi Germany Professional Landscape 2017 Sony World Photography Awards‘Lonely Tree’ by Tom Jacobi is shortlisted in the Professional Landscape category.Sony World Photography Awards

The Sony World Photography Awards is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

To mark the occasion, more than 277,000 photographs have been submitted from 183 countries around the world.

Suffice to say, those that have made Sony’s coveted shortlist are breathtaking and thought-provoking.

Overall winners will be revealed April 20 whereafter they will be exhibited with shortlisted and commended entries at Somerset House in London.

The following shortlisted entries are taken from the Professional and Open competitions — both of which entail 10 categories.

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‘Silent Kingdom’ — Christian Vizl (Mexico), Professional, Natural World

'Silent Kingdom' — Christian Vizl (Mexico), Professional, Natural World

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Moody’ — Ann Ric (Malaysia), Open, Nature

'Moody' — Ann Ric (Malaysia), Open, Nature

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Urban Symmetry’ — Zsolt Hlinka (Hungary), Professional, Architecture

'Urban Symmetry' — Zsolt Hlinka (Hungary), Professional, Architecture

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Mourning Ceremony’ — Emrah Karako (Turkey), Open, Culture

'Mourning Ceremony' — Emrah Karako (Turkey), Open, Culture

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Diamond-Dust’ — Masayasu Sakuma (Japan), Open, Nature

'Diamond-Dust' — Masayasu Sakuma (Japan), Open, Nature

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Far From Gravity’ — Alex Andriesi (Romania), Open, Enhanced

'Far From Gravity' — Alex Andriesi (Romania), Open, Enhanced

Sony World Photography Awards

‘The Human Comedy’ — Vito Leone (Italy), Open, Culture

'The Human Comedy' — Vito Leone (Italy), Open, Culture

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Inhabitants of the Empty’ — Yulia Grigoryants (Armenia), Professional, Daily Life

'Inhabitants of the Empty' — Yulia Grigoryants (Armenia), Professional, Daily Life

Sony World Photography Awards

‘China West’ — Julien Chatelin (France), Professional, Architecture

'China West' — Julien Chatelin (France), Professional, Architecture

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Lonely Tree’ — Tom Jacobi (Germany), Professional, Landscape

'Lonely Tree' — Tom Jacobi (Germany), Professional, Landscape

Sony World Photography Awards

‘The Cub’ — Tim Topple (United Kingdom), Open, Portraits

'The Cub' — Tim Topple (United Kingdom), Open, Portraits

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Buffaloes and Stars’ — Andreas Hemb (Sweden), Open, Wildlife

'Buffaloes and Stars' — Andreas Hemb (Sweden), Open, Wildlife

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Metropolis’ — Tavepong Pratoomwong (Thailand), Open, Street

'Metropolis' — Tavepong Pratoomwong (Thailand), Open, Street

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Lady in Red’ — Placido Faranda (Italy), Open, Travel

'Lady in Red' — Placido Faranda (Italy), Open, Travel

Sony World Photography Awards

‘I Know What Beauty Looks Like’ — Romina Ressia (Argentina), Professional, Portraiture

'I Know What Beauty Looks Like' — Romina Ressia (Argentina), Professional, Portraiture

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Live Chat Studio Industry’ — Lorenzo Maccotta (Italy), Professional, Contemporary Issues

'Live Chat Studio Industry' — Lorenzo Maccotta (Italy), Professional, Contemporary Issues

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Racism in India: The African Portraits’ — Mahesh Shantaram (India), Professional, Portraiture

'Racism in India: The African Portraits' — Mahesh Shantaram (India), Professional, Portraiture

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Food Puns’ — Grant Hegedus (United Kingdom), Professional, Still Life

'Food Puns' — Grant Hegedus (United Kingdom), Professional, Still Life

Sony World Photography Awards

‘I Want to Have an Ordinary Life’ — Li Song (China), Professional, Contemporary Issues

KC Yee

‘Louisiana Flooding’ — Joe Raedle (United States of America), Professional, Current Affairs

'Louisiana Flooding' — Joe Raedle (United States of America), Professional, Current Affairs

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Caught in the Crossfire’ — Ivor Prickett (Ireland), Professional, Current Affairs

'Caught in the Crossfire' — Ivor Prickett (Ireland), Professional, Current Affairs

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Colour and Vision’ — Felicity McCabe (United Kingdom), Professional, Natural World

'Colour and Vision' — Felicity McCabe (United Kingdom), Professional, Natural World

Sony World Photography Awards

‘A Country Doctor and Her Calling’ — Ioana Moldovan (Romania), Professional, Daily Life

'A Country Doctor and Her Calling' — Ioana Moldovan (Romania), Professional, Daily Life

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Los Trumpistas’ — Giulia Piermartiri Edoardo Delille (Italy), Professional, Portraiture

'Los Trumpistas' — Giulia Piermartiri Edoardo Delille (Italy), Professional, Portraiture

Sony World Photography Awards

‘The Little Bullfighters of Mexico’ — Christina Simons (Iceland), Professional, Daily Life

'The Little Bullfighters of Mexico' — Christina Simons (Iceland), Professional, Daily Life

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Palm Trees Routine’ — Andrs Gallardo Albajar (Spain), Open, Still Life

'Palm Trees Routine' — Andrs Gallardo Albajar (Spain), Open, Still Life

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Pumping the Iron in Russia’ — Eduard Korniyenko (Russia), Professional, Sport

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Algo Casual 2’ — Carloman Macidiano Cspedes Riojas (Peru), Open, Portraits

Sony World Photography Awards

‘We are taking no prisoners’ — Tom Jacobi (Germany), Professional, Landscape

'We are taking no prisoners' — Tom Jacobi (Germany), Professional, Landscape

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Standing Rock’ — Amber Bracken (Canada), Professional, Contemporary Issues

'Standing Rock' — Amber Bracken (Canada), Professional, Contemporary Issues

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Pandas Gone Wild’ — Ami Vitale (United States of America), Professional, Natural World

'Pandas Gone Wild' — Ami Vitale (United States of America), Professional, Natural World

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Georgian Baptism’ — Beniamino Pisati (Italy), Open, Culture

'Georgian Baptism' — Beniamino Pisati (Italy), Open, Culture

Sony World Photography Awards

‘Present and Past 1’ — Anisleidy Martnez Fonseca (Cuba), Open, Portraits

Sony World Photography Awards

24 Unusual Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of Before

From When on Earth

Do you think that beaches are blasé tourist destinations with nothing unique or interesting to offer? Well, you’re only partly correct. Many of them are over crowded and boring, but none of the beaches we feature here will disappoint. A singing beach, a glowing beach, a beach with rainbow-colored sand — here are the most offbeat seaside destinations you’ll find on Earth.

1. Glass Beach

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Location: Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii

What’s so special about it: Though it’s regular rock is basalt, the Glass Beach in Kauai is blanketed with millions of sea glass particles which came from years of discarded glass washed up on shore. Similar beaches include Fort Bragg and Benicia, which are both in California. Source 

2. Green Sand Beach

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Location: Papakolea Beach/Mahana Beach, South Point, Ka’u, Hawaii

What’s so special about it: Thanks to the mineral olivine, which comes from the nearby cinder cone, this peculiar beach sparkles a brilliant green. It’s only one of the four beaches in the world with bright green sand, the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam, Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands, and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway. Source

3. Hot Water Beach

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Location: East coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

What’s so special about it: Drive down to this beach armed with a shovel, because the best thing to do here is to dig your very own DIY spa. This geothermal beach can get as hot as 64°C (147°F), its heated water spouting from two nearby underground springs. Check out their website for updates on the water conditions before you drop by. Source

4. Tunnel Beach

Tunnel_Beach_New_Zealand_II

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

What’s so special about it: After trekking across a private farmland, beach-goers must pass this long creepy tunnel to get to the actual beach. On the other side are beautiful sandstone cliffs, rock arches, caves, and other stunning rock formations against the backdrop of the magnificent Pacific Ocean. Source

5. Star Sand Beach

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Location: Irimote Island, Japan

What’s so special about it: Visitors of the star sand beaches of Irimote Island and neighboring islands in southern Japan are more often seen crouched over the sand, examining the curiously-shaped particles on their hands. Star sand are actually exoskeletons of foraminiferans (microscopic marine organisms) which have washed up by the millions for years on the island’s shores. Those who look closely enough might find some that are still alive. Source

6. Singing Beach

singing beach

Location: Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, USA

What’s so special about it: Before you get carried away by your imagination, the sounds coming from the friction between the grains of sand in this beach are actually more of the creaky, squeaky kind than the melodic, symphonic type, which is probably how you imagine it. Though you might call this false advertising, the experience is still one-of-a-kind. That Singing Beach is still one of of North Shore’s most popular attractions attests to that. Source

7. A sandy beach in the middle of a meadow

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Location: Playa De Gulpiyuri, Llanes, Spain

What’s so special about it: If you’re walking in a meadow and suddenly find yourself in a beach, it’s likely you’ve come to Playa De Gulpiyuri. Though the ocean is nowhere in sight, the beach is actually connected by a network of intricate underground waterways to the Atlantic where its water is sourced. Source

8. Pink Sand Beach

pink-sand-beach-Bahamas

Location: Harbour Island, Bahamas

What’s so special about it: Eroded particles from red corals across the eastern coast of the Bahamas have washed to shore to give the powdery sand of Harbor island a pinkish glow. If you’re a fan of pink, this beach is the way to go. Source

9. Purple Sand Beach

Photo credit http://www.panoramio.com/photo/37836592

Location: Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California, USA

What’s so special about it: Another cute-colored sand beach is found in Big Sur, California. The purple tint of the sands of Pfeiffer Beach comes from its dominant mineral quartz combined with manganese garnet deposits found in the surrounding rocks. Source

10. Bioluminescent Beach

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Location: Maldives

What’s so special about it: It’s an ocean of stars! Bioluminescent phytoplankton, which glows when agitated, can be found in many shores all over the world, but it seems they’re found more often in Maldives. This amazing photo was taken by Taiwanese photographer Will Ho. Source

11. Beach of the Cathedrals

cathedra;

Location: Playa de las Catedrales/Praia de Augas Santas, Ribadeo, Spain

What’s so special about it: Magnificent geological formations form a cathedral-like effect across this idyllic beach in Spain. The beach can only be easily accessible during low tide. Source

12. Bowling Ball Beach

Photo credit

Location: Schooner Gulch State Beach, Mendocino County, California, USA

What’s so special about it: Large spherical rocks, like over-sized bowling balls, are scattered across the shore of this beach in Schooner Gulch. The boulders are said to have been caused by millions of years of erosion and “concretion” a rare geologic phenomenon also observed in the Moeraki and Koutu Boulders in New Zealand and Cannonball River in North Dakota. Source

13. Maho Beach

Location: Saint Mar Dr. K C Yeetin Island, Sint Maarten

What’s so special about it: With the beach’s location adjacent to the Princess Juliana International Airport, vacationers can actually jump up and touch a flying airplane. Source

14. Schoolhouse Beach

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Location: Washington Island, Wisconsin, USA

What’s so special about it: If you like beaches but absolutely hate sand sticking to your feet and getting everywhere else, you’ll love Schoolhouse Beach. Instead of icky sand, it’s covered in smooth limestone rocks that were glacier-polished for thousands of years. Each small rock is a geologic treasure that anyone caught trying to take one home has to pay a steep fine. Source 

15. Vanishing Beach

Photo credit

Location: Chandipur Beach, eastern India

What’s so special about it: In the morning, the sea in Chandipur Beach vanishes completely like a miracle. It recedes up to 5 kilometers from the shore, giving visitors an opportunity to walk in the sea and explore the sea bed on foot. But once high tide kicks in, they better be back in shore, since that’s when the sea rushes back into place. This strange phenomenon happens twice a day throughout the year. Source

16. Hidden Beach

Photo credit

Location: Playa de Amor, Marieta Islands, Mexico

What’s so special about it: This idyllic beach paradise was actually created when the Mexican government in the early 1900’s made a bombsite out of the area, blasting a huge hole on the canopy of the grotto. Despite its dreadful past, we’re actually grateful — the beach looks absolutely gorgeous! Source 

17. Black Sand Beach

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Location: Punalu’u Park, Hawaii

What’s so special about it: Sick of ordinary white sand beaches? Head down to Punalu’u Park for something entirely different. As for why the sand is colored black, we have theories. Source

18. White Sand Beach

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Location: Hyams Beach,, New South Wales, Australia

What’s so special about it: Hyams Beach holds a Guinness Record for having the whitest sand in the world. It’s like snow in summer! Source

19. Rainbow Beach

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Location: South-eastern Queensland, Australia

What’s so special about it: Multi-colored sand dunes surrounding the town supply Rainbow Beach with as many as 74 different colors of sand. The colorful sand dunes are a result of years of erosion and iron oxidation dating back since the Ice Age. Source

20. Round Pebble Beach

mabua-pebble-beach-3

Location: Mabua Pebble Beach, Surigao City, Philippines

What’s so special about it: Instead of sand, this beach is covered with a multitude of smooth round pebbles which the waves gathered in from the sea. According to reflexologists, walking on these stones has a strong therapeutic effect on the body., which makes this beach a popular getaway for those who want to relax and rejuvenate. Source

21. Pig Beach

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Location:  Big Major Cay, Bahamas

What’s so special about it: Big major Cay is an island in the Bahamas that’s populated by 20 or so feral pigs who are often seen lounging about and swimming in the clear waters around the island. No one really knows where they came from, but they sure are bringing more and more curious travelers to their island. Source

22. Scala Dei Turchi

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Location: southern Sicily, Realmonte, Italy

What’s so special about it: Scala dei Turchi is a set of stairs formed out of natural white rock by years of wave action. Beach-goers are often found covered in white paste made from the mineral Marl that’s abundant in the area and is said to be good for the skin.  Source

23. Whitehaven Beach

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Location: Whitsunday Island, Australia

What’s so special about it: Not only is Whitehaven Beach visually spectacular, it’s also actually awarded as the most eco-friendly beach in the world by CNN. Local sands are bright white containing a large amount of silica, which does not retain heat, enabling visitors to walk around the silky shore comfortably while barefoot on a sunny day.    Source

24. Shell Beach

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Location: L’Haridon Bight,  Shark Bay, western Australia

What’s special about it: A 7 to 10 meter thick layer of cockle shells covers the entire shoreline of this fascinating beach. Due to the high salinity of the water, cockles proliferate abundantly in the absence of its natural predators, who cannot survive in such harsh environment. It is one of the only two beaches made entirely out of shells. Source

Bonus:

A desert that turns into a beach on certain parts of the year

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Location: Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Maranhão, Brazil.

What’s so special about it: Every start of the year, continuous rainfall floods the desert dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, creating a series of lovely turquoise lagoons in the white valleys of sand. The desert beach persists until it completely dries up in October. If you look closely in the water, you’ll be surprised to find a variety of fishes swimming around–a result of adaptation through the periodic drying and flooding of the desert oasis. Source

A “glacial river lagoon” with black sand

Location: Jökulsárlón Lake, southeastern Iceland

What’s special about it: Chunks of ice like huge glistening crystals scattered across the jet black bay make this natural scene seem right out of a dream. The ice comes from a nearby glacier while volcanic rock accounts for the black sand. Source

A beach covered in fish bones

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Location: Salton Sea, California, USA

What’s so special about it: Other beaches are covered in glass, pebbles, and multi-colored sand, but this beach is covered in fish bones. How did that happen? Find out here.

Why is my microwave not working?

My answer to Why is my microwave not working?

Answer by KC Yee:

most common failure in microwave ovens is the electrical relay that is controlled by the control panel. The relay is a electric-mechanical device, that is no more than a controlled switch, it uses a metal piece for connection, and a spring to bounce off the metal to disconnect. This is often where it fails.

the part only costs a few $, but Unfortunately, this part is NOT user replaceable. Requires a professional service person.

Why is my microwave not working?

Not the Wawona Tunnel Tree, But the Sequoia Tunnel Tree is no more

Since it was first hollowed out in imitation of Yosemite’s Wawona Tunnel Tree, thousands of tourists and vehicles have passed through the sequoia. The Wawona tree was killed by the process and later fell during a storm in the 1960s, but the Pioneer Cabin Tree clung on, showing signs of life well into the 21st century. Yee haw!

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“The pioneer cabin tree was chosen because of its extremely wide base and large fire scar,” wrote park interpretive specialist Wendy Harrison in 1990. “A few branches bearing green foliage tell us that this tree is still managing to survive.” Yee Haw!

tunnel-tree

Dr K C Yee.

Malaysia

durianFlickr Creative Commons/Zhao

Malaysia is one of Asia’s hidden gems.

The country is often overlooked — it lacks the economic prestige of its neighbor and former state Singapore, and it isn’t a renowned tourism destination like two of its other neighbors, Thailand and Indonesia.

But take a closer look and you’ll find a country with a rich history, fascinating people, and delicious food.

Here are some surprising things most people don’t know about Malaysia:


It’s one of the most diverse countries in Asia

It's one of the most diverse countries in Asia

Global Peace Foundation

About half of Malaysia’s 31 million people are ethnically Malay, according to the latest figures from the CIA. Chinese people make up about 23% of the population and Indian people about 7%.

Another 12% is comprised of hundreds of indigenous groups, including native groups from Malaysia’s two states on the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia.

Islam is Malaysia’s official religion, and all Malays are Muslim by law. About 61% of the country is Muslim, with Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism comprising most of the rest of the population, according to the CIA.

Malaysia’s diversity results in an unmistakable blend of religion, food, language, and culture.

Malaysia has affirmative action … for the majority race

Malaysia has affirmative action … for the majority race

A group of ethnic Malays protest for Malay rightsAFP

Malaysia’s history is rife with ethnic tension that influences its politics.

A deadly race riot in 1969 led to the New Economic Policy, a government measure aimed at reducing inequalities between Malays and the richer Chinese class. It’s a rare example of an affirmative action program that benefits the majority race.

Today, Malays have fewer barriers to getting into college, opening a business, and buying a house than their Chinese-Malaysian and Indian-Malaysian compatriots.

According to The Economist, 71% of Malaysians consider the affirmative action “obsolete” and wish to replace it with a “merit-based policy.”

Nobody knows when the next election is

Nobody knows when the next election is

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib RazakThomson Reuters

Unlike in the US, Malaysian elections are not scheduled for a particular day, and it’s anyone’s guess exactly when the next one will occur.

Malaysia’s constitution mandates a federal election be held at least once every five years. But the prime minister can force an early election by dissolving the Parliament at any time, effectively controlling which day the election falls.

In 2013, the year of Malaysia’s most recent election, many Malaysians feared Prime Minister Najib Razak would schedule the election on a holiday weekend, in an effort to repress turnout among supporters of the growing opposition coalition. That didn’t end up being the case, although the ruling party still narrowly won in a contentious decision.

The same political coalition has ruled Malaysia since its independence in 1957.

Penang is the street food capital of Asia

Penang is the street food capital of Asia

Flickr/Inkid

The Malaysian state of Penang, and particularly its capital George Town, is considered one of the best destinations for street food in Asia, if not the world.

Take a stroll through George Town and you’ll pass hundreds of hawker stalls offering everything from samosas to spicy noodle curry to cendol, a dessert made from sweet grass jelly and coconut milk.

Penang cuisine is heavily influenced by the Baba-Nyonya, a unique subgroup whose food is a hybrid of Chinese, Malay, Thai, and other Southeast Asian groups.

Their signature dish is asam laksa — a bowl of silky rice noodles served in a sour, spicy, tamarind-based mackerel soup, and often topped with onion, pineapple, mint, ginger, and shrimp paste. Voters named the delicacy one of the 50 best foods in the world in a 2011 CNN Go poll.

The largest flower in the world grows in Malaysia

The largest flower in the world grows in Malaysia

YouTube/Stairs & Sparks

Malaysia’s most famous plant is the rafflesia flower. With a bloom that can extend more than a yard in diameter, the Rafflesia is the largest flower in the world.

When blooming, the flower emits a putrid stench, giving rise to its nickname “corpse flower.” The odor attracts flies, who then transport the pollen.

Rafflesia flowers generally grow in the rainforests of Borneo. Malaysia is one of 17 countries with “megadiverse” wildlife.

 

A man got death threats for holding a dog-petting event

A man got death threats for holding a dog-petting event

Facebook

Malaysia’s conservative Muslim government considers dogs unclean and forbidden.

But in 2014, that didn’t stop more than 1,000 canine-curious Malaysians from showing up to a public event, endearingly titled “I Want to Touch a Dog,” where Muslims could pet dogs for the first time and learn how to ritually wash themselves afterward.

While the event provided hours of fun for attendants, hardline Muslims weren’t amused. The event’s creator, Syed Azmi Alhabshi, received death threats from fellow Muslims who felt he was insulting their religion. He was even temporarily forced into hiding.

The controversy died down after Syed Azmi issued a statement apologizing for hosting the event:

“With a sincere heart, my intention to organize this program is because of Allah … and not to [distort] the faith, change religious laws, make fun of [religious scholars] or encourage liberalism,” Syed Azmi said in the statement.

The ‘king of the fruits’ grows there — but many can’t stomach it

The 'king of the fruits' grows there — but many can't stomach it

Flickr Creative Commons/Zhao

Durian is likely the most polarizing fruit on earth.

It’s known as the “king of the fruits” in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries, but its smell is so overwhelmingly pungent that it’s banned from many Malaysian hotels.

Food writer Richard Sterling described the odor as “pig-s—, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock.”

The tough, spiky husk must be skillfully sliced open with a sharp knife, revealing pods of mushy, custardy durian flesh. Its sweet-and-savory taste is a bizarre combination of pineapple, onions, caramel, almond, butter, and cheese.

“Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother,” Anthony Bourdain once said.

Durian is certainly an acquired taste, and Malaysians take immense delight in watching foreigners take a bite for the first time.

The best badminton player in the world is Malaysian

Dr K C Yee

Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia competes in the mens’ singles badminton tournament at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Malaysian Lee Chong Wei has dominated the world badminton scene for the past 10 years.

He’s ranked No. 1 in the world by the Badminton World Federation, and held the top spot for a mind-blowing 199 straight weeks between 2008 and 2012.

Lee has won silver medals at the past three Olympic Games, falling twice to his rival Lin Dan of China. The Lee-Lin rivalry is considered one of the greatest rivalries in badminton history.

Although soccer is the most popular sport in Malaysia, badminton is by far its most dominant. Badminton players have won eight of the country’s 11 Olympic medals all time.

You could be put to death for marijuana possession

You could be put to death for marijuana possession

David Ramos/Getty Images

Malaysia has some of the strictest drug penalties in the world, including a mandatory death sentence for the possession of high quantities of certain drugs.

Per the Dangerous Drug Act, Malaysians will be put to death for possessing 15 grams of heroin and morphine, 1 kilogram of opium, 40 grams of cocaine, or 200 grams of marijuana.

It’s home to a world-class budget airline

It's home to a world-class budget airline

Airbus

It may be expensive to fly to Southeast Asia from the US, but any seasoned traveler will tell you that once you get there, it’s extremely cheap to get around.

That’s partially thanks to AirAsia, a budget airline headquartered in Kuala Lumpur. You can take one of AirAsia’s distinctive red-and-white planes to more than 20 Asian countries, including tourist hotspots like Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali, often for less than $100 round-trip. The airline ventures as far out as India, Saudi Arabia, and Australia.

AirAsia has won the Skytrax award for Best Low-Cost Airline eight years in a row. Just be warned — the airline is “budget” in every way possible.

Forget free checked bags and complimentary snacks and drinks. If you want to sit with friends or family, you’ll have to pay to choose a seat. Expect to walk across the tarmac for a few minutes to reach your plane. And remember to print your boarding pass in advance — it will cost you a few bucks to print it at the counter.

The capital has two of the tallest skyscrapers in the world

The capital has two of the tallest skyscrapers in the world

Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala LumpurREUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad

Kuala Lumpur’s skyline is dominated by the Petronas Towers, which at the time of their construction in 1998 were the tallest buildings in the world.

Standing at a whopping 1,483 feet tall, the towers remain the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world.

Tower One is occupied by Malaysian gas giant Petronas and some of its associate companies and subsidiaries. A number of other companies occupy Tower 2.

A typical sentence could have words from 4 languages

A typical sentence could have words from 4 languages

A sign in Malaysia written in English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.Wikimedia Commons

With a population as ethnically diverse as Malaysia’s, it should come as no surprise that the country is a linguistic melting pot, too.

English is the lingua franca, and has its own colorful local dialect known as Manglish, which blends vocabulary and grammar from various languages.

The classic sentence “Wei macha, you want makan here or tapau?” (translation: Do you want to eat here or take out?) is often used to illustrate Malaysia’s linguistic diversity, as it contains words from Tamil, English, Malay, and Chinese.

You need your passport to travel within the country

You need your passport to travel within the country

Flickr Creative Commons/Kelvin Lim

The two isolated states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo have a slightly more autonomy than other Malaysian states.

That results in a strange logistical quirk: If you’re coming from mainland Malaysia, you need to go through immigration control and bring your passports or identity card — even for native Malaysians. (Imagine needing a passport to travel from California to Hawaii.)

There’s frequent talk of the two states seceding from Malaysia, but no action is expected any time soon.

Students take part in bizarre simultaneous-speech competitions

Students take part in bizarre simultaneous-speech competitions

YouTube

Many Malaysian schools partake in “speech choir,” a competition in which students recite an English-language speech in unison while performing intricate choreography.

The scripts often tackle issues such as the environment, health, and globalization, and will often have snippets of pop songs sprinkled throughout.

It’s the kind of thing that needs to be seen to be truly appreciated.