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And now for something completely different. Many times, on holidays, we will do anything within our power to get away from any source of aural pollution, otherwise known as noise. Requests for rooms at the back of the hotel, trips to remote islands, or in the worst-case scenarios, sleeping with earplugs in, are all ways to avoid listening to a riot. Anyone who has ever spent a night wincing every time a flock of Vespas screeches past in an Italian town square, or sighing the sigh of the insomniac, every time another drinking cheer carouses in the air, will know the problem.

There is one place on earth though, where people flock in great curiosity and wonder, to listen to the sounds of automobile engines. No, they are not Formula One addicts or any other form of petrol-heads. They are not travelling in search of any sort of vehicle whatsoever, except perhaps a camel train. These intrepid souls are going all the way to Inner Mongolia to listen to the sand singing.

The Xiangshawan Desert in the Ordos of Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region features one of the most unexplained phenomena in nature. The sands there, as they shift, produce the sound of car engines. It is not recorded if anyone has asked Professor Brian Cox yet, but there is no apparent explanation. The sounds come from a slope that is 110 metres high and at a 45 degree angle.

The Desert Lotus Resort has been created to cater for those who come in search of this sensation. Its architects wanted it to look like a ship sailing in the desert and to fix it into the ever-flowing sands without the use of concrete or water. It is constructed of low-carbon, environmentally friendly materials, many of them adapted from the sands themselves, to take advantage of the solar and wind power on the site. There's a spa there and a pool, truly an oasis. It's a rather spectacular looking building, a bit how Sydney Opera House would look if it was splatted by a giant flyswat; and can proudly boast to be China's first desert tourist resort.

The sounding sands are about 800 kilometres west of Beijing and plans are in plans to enhance and encourage more sustainable tourism in the area. They say 'seeing is believing' but in this case, it is hearing that tests the theory.

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