IELTS Speaking Part 3 – Band 9 Strategies – Souvenirs

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A souvenir that brings back many memories for me, of my trip to India in 2018, is a large 60 cm laughing buddha that I bought at the end of my trip. It’s a ceramic statue with bright colors such as red, yellow, and gold, he has an ear to ear smile and a very large belly, and he is sitting cross-legged on top of coins. His hands are in a folded position, he’s got big ears and he’s bald. I had purchased the statue around the end of September in the last couple of days of my vacation from the famous Jack and Jones souvenir chain. They are famous suppliers of authentic buddha statues. A very friendly salesman, Abhishek, sold me this buddha at a great price, after bargaining for a while, and he explained to me its significance and the ways in which this statue would help bring peace and harmony to my home. After returning home, I found a special place for the statue in my living room against the wall facing the windows where family and guests could easily see it and it would also get lots of sunlight. This Buddha is believed to bring good fortune and since I’m a business owner I thought it might just help me in my company’s financial success. Whenever I come home from work and feel a bit stressed, after seeing the buddha, I remember my amazing adventures across India, visiting the many temples, meeting many friendly and smiley new people, tasting delicious foods, and absorbing the local culture.
How did you get this large statue safely back to your home all the way from India?

I paid an extra fee at the airport to have this statue marked as fragile and shipped carefully in a separate crate to my exact address by currier.
Can you buy such souvenirs in your locality too?

No, not really. Although there are shops that sell buddha statues around Buenos Aires, I’ve never quite seen one like this, especially this big. Most of the ones around here are just cheap Chinese replicas as where this is quite unique and expensive.

***Make sure to practice both asking and answering questions after Part 2 directly about the Part 2 response.


Let’s talk about souvenirs.

What are common souvenirs found at most tourist destinations?

Definitely among the most popular items for tourists at shops are statues, as I had just mentioned, as well as key chains, postcards, and refrigerator magnets, as these can be easily carried and placed around the home to bring back memories of the trip. My wife bought five different fridge magnets on our trip to London.

Why are these so popular for vendors to sell?

These items are liked by retailers because they take up little space in their shops and produce a high-profit margin. I mean they can get a fridge magnet from the wholesaler for pennies and then sell it for 10 dollars a pop. As well, tourists don’t have much trouble putting them in their luggage and buying them for friends and family as gifts to take back home.

Some souvenirs are very expensive while many are quite cheap. What is usually the difference between these items?

I think that the price difference among these keepsakes boils down to the materials and effort that goes into them. When they are made by machines from cheap materials like plastic, they will be inexpensive, but if made by hand from precious stones they can cost an arm and a leg. I saw a jade buddha in China that was carved by a master craftsman and it cost 100K US dollars.

What should people be careful about when they are purchasing gifts during their travels?

I think that tourists should be cautious both about the authenticity of the products as well as their shipping. I mean that there are a lot of knockoffs that tourists get tricked into buying for a high price only to find out later that they have been ripped off. This is the reason I bought the buddha at a reputable retailer, Jack and Jones. In addition, certain products are not legal to ship out of the country or into some countries. For instance, Canada and Australia are very strict about wood products that could harm the local environment.

What are the best ways to pay attention to these? (certificate of authenticity)

One of the best pieces of advice that come to mind is to use the internet when available to find out information about the authenticity of products as well as the possibilities and restrictions regarding shipment. There are some very good websites and reviews that can help to give confidence when making these decisions. In fact, while in Venice Italy, I learned that of the many stores and vendors that sell masks, there are actually on three true local shops where masks are produced by Italian craftsmen and women.

Let’s talk about decorating the home.

If a person wants their home to look beautiful, what should they pay special attention to? Can you elaborate?

What are common decorations that many people put around their home?
Can you think of any uncommon decorations that may ornate the home?

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