1. Dwarapala (Bhoma in Balinese)
Already when you leave the airport of Denpasar, you approach those awkward looking statues, that are placed mostly in front of temple entrances. They have a human body, but their scary faces resemble dragons or monkeys with sharp teeth and wide-open eyes.
In Hindu culture, those statues are gate guardians who protect temples and homes. Most likely there are two of those statues, placed left and right of the gate. Contrasts are used to describe that everything in life has an opposition – yin and yang. For example, there is a statue of both an old and a young person or a warrior holding his sword in the right hand and the same warrior holding the sword in the left hand.
2. Elephant God Ganesh
Another well-known statue is the elephant god Ganesh. It’s also a common motive on shirts, bags and souvenirs.
The four-armed God with the Elephant head is one of the most popular gods in the Hindu religion. Ganesh is the Lord of Good Fortune, symbolizing prosperity and success.
Meant is not material wealth but rather spiritual richness which leads to a prosperous life.
The Elephant God holds a special item in each of his four human hands: his own broken tusk, an axe, a sweet Indian candy and a noose.
The legends of why Ganesh has an elephant head are told in many different versions. In one of the more famous myths, Ganesh was the doorkeeper of his mother’s bathroom. One day he was killed by the husband of his mother. The mother send out warriors to bring the head of the first dead animal they came across. Surprisingly it was an elephant. Ganesh became alive and from then on gained wisdom.
3. Laughing Buddha
Laughing Buddha is a fat bald man with a jolly smile. He smiles for a good reason as he brings luck and wealth in plenitude. He is often depicted in a sitting position, symbolizing balance of thoughts and tranquility.
4. Three wise monkeys – Don’t see. Don’t listen. Don’t speak.
Since Whatsapp everyone knows the three sweet monkeys: one that shuts its eyes, one that shuts its ears and the third one shutting its mouth. The three wise monkeys represent the proverbial principle “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
The Buddhists use the three monkeys to remind people of keeping a distance from evil thoughts.
A warung in Indonesia is nothing else than a typical restaurant serving local food like Mie Goreng, Nasi Goreng, Cap Cay or Gado-Gado. There are cheap and pricey warungs, depending on the area the warung is located and how classy it looks.
Cheap warungs can be found in non-touristy areas. At first glance they might look a little bit shady but they’re usually okay.
6. Hati-Hati signs
Hati-Hati means “Look out there might be a danger on the street”. You’ll see many of those warning signs all over Bali which most often include a note like Hati-Hati Ada Luang (hole).
Danger is prevalent in Bali. If you don’t keep your eyes alert while walking, you can easily fall into a hole. Hati-Hati!
7. Frangipani flowers
Bali is full of them: frangipani flowers. Those exotic white-yellow flowers that look like plastic contribute to the perfect island look. Women usually pin them into their hair.
Offerings play an important role in the Hindu culture. You’ll find them everywhere in Bali. Look out for baskets braided from palm leaves, filled with flowers, fruits, cookies, candies, coins and incense. They are offered to the gods in the temples as a sign of faith and solidarity.
9. Stray dogs
One could get the feeling that dogs have taken over the island of Bali. There is barely any street that is free of stray dogs. Whereas tourists give the dogs a chance, the majority of locals don’t like them.
Dog-loving tourists have the opportunity to walk homeless dogs from the I love Bali dogs voluntary station.
10. Bali Belly
For the unlucky ones, Balinese food can become a nightmare with the name Bali Belly. We don’t know exactly what it is that causes this sick feeling but we guess it’s the change in diet together with the prevalent spicy food and non-drinkable tap water.
Yakult, guava juice and raspberry are recommended when suffering from Bali Belly.
2 comments on “10 Things you might Wonder about when Visiting Bali for the First Time”
Your first photo is of a Bhoma, not a Bedogol. The former are usually relief sculptures placed above the gate, as you have pictured here, whereas the latter are usually stand-alone sculptures placed on either side of a gate. (I also believe Bhoma are customarily placed above the gate to the inner courtyard of temples, while Bedogol are usually placed at the outer gates, but that’s not universal.) It may also be worth noting that the daily offerings pictured are known as canang sari.
You are right about the bhoma. We didn’t realize they were different from the bedogol statues. Thank you for the correction and the additional info!