! 5 October 2004
A rep recommends
Beaches, baltis and bargains... it's iieaven
As the summer sun sets in Europe, holidaymakers seek other destinations to top up their tan. Here, a former rep working in India explains why your clients will love a winter break in Goa
THE people, the colours, the smell5, the music, the traditions and the landscape there's no questioning it, southern India is a feast for the senses, I fell in love with the country and its rituals the first time ! visited. The ornate temples are only matched by the spellbinding local customs which manifest on every street corner, lush field and quiet beach. Without doubt the main attraction in Goa has to be its beaches. During the winter, masses of European tourists descend on its resorts as the summer destinations back home begin to cool down. But it's not just about the beaches - there are plenty of other attractions. Goa is beautifully unspoilt (like Spain was some 35 years ago) with sandy beaches that are dotted with beach shacks serving fabulous food - all the more remarkable considering the lack of running water and electricity. The food in Goa is mouthwatering whatever you choose, whether its a typical Indian (did you know the vindaloo originates from Goa?), Thai, Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian or Mediterranean. I've even sampled a first-class roast beef and yorkshire pudding, but that's another story! Not only is the food good, but it's also incredibly cheap. Clients cannot
Hilary June Halligan worked for Cosmos in Majorca for 11 years, spending the winter seasons as a rep in Goa
"Clients cannot believe they can eat and drink so well for so little"
believe they can eat and drink so well, for so little. A huge fresh seafood platter will cost less than £5 - and that's being extravagant You can eat quite handsomely for a matter of pennies. If you are on a budget then shopping in Goa will not break it. Everyone loves a bargain and Goa is a shoppers' paradise. A local tailor can make you a fitted garment for a fraction of what it would cost in the UK. For example, a man's light wool suit, lined with silk will set you back as little as £50. Simply show the tailor a photo of
what you want and it will be made. This is even true for jewellery where you could pay £200 to £300 for a diamond ring that will be valued at £1,000 back in the UK. But don't forget to get a certificate of authenticity and it must have a hallmark. I'd also advise clients to walk around the local daytime markets or better still, visit one in the evening and make a night of it. Live music and entertainment are all included in what must be one of the most enjoyable shopping experiences you'll ever have. Beautiful sarongs cost as little as 60p, while embroidered wall hangings cost £10. And if you're not tired out by a day's shopping then there are plenty of must-see excursions. The Regal Elephants trip was one of my highlights. Clients can stay a night in a mud hut and then spend the next day riding, feeding and washing an elephant. You can even swim with them - it's magic. For animal lovers there's also nothing quite like a tiger safari where you can get scarily close to these magnificent beasts (thanks to the armoured buses). A visit to the awe-inspiring 13th-century Hampi is also a spellbinding experience. Here, clients will get the chance to see endless forgotten temples, some of which still have such splendours as revolving wheels made of stone. When it comes to resorts there are a couple of general rules that are worth bearing in mind. The north of Goa tends to have more touristy resorts, such as Candolim, Calangut and Baga. Calangut and Baga are quite lively resorts with masses to offer the partygoer. In the south you have more four and five-star properties. The beaches are everyone's imagined idea of paradise - completely unspoilt with swaying palm trees. What ^ more can you ask for?