Travel Notes

Teluk Hijau

Grajagan Bay

Day 1 We left Ketapang shortly after sunrise. The weather was perfectly clear and the summit of Mt Merapi stood out sharply against the blue sky. To the west, in the distance, the jagged crater rim of Mt Raung was visible.
Our destination was Sadengan, a wildlife reserve about one and a half hour's drive to the south. Sadengan itself covers just a small part of the 60,000 hectare South Banyuwangi National Park, located on the Blambangan Peninsula in the extreme south east of the island. This is perhaps the best place to observe the banteng, or Javanese wild ox (bos Javanicus L.). Banteng resemble domestic cattle generally but are somewhat larger in size. The males are dark brown, almost black, while females are yellowish brown in colour. Both have a large and distinctive white patch on the rump. In East Java today, the only places where they are still found in any significant numbers are in the reserves at South Banyuwangi and at Baluran in the north east of the province.

Aside from the banteng, the peninsular abounds in various species of native fauna. There are jungle fowl (ayam hutan), macaques, leaf monkeys, leopards, wild pigs, as well as two species of deer, the rusa (cervus timorensis L. ) and the muncak, or barking deer (muntiacus muncak L. ). Here, too, is one of the last places in Java supporting numbers of wild dogs (cuon alpinus L. ). Known locally as asu ajak, or ajag, these animals are related to the Indian dhole. Hunting in large packs, they live primarily on muncak and wild pig, though they are not averse to killing the odd sea turtle, many of which come to lay their eggs at night on the surrounding beaches.
Our first stop was at Banyuwangi, which is far eastern Java's principal town. It lies just 8 km south of Ketapang, the small fishing village and port which services the arrival and departure of ferries travelling to and fro across the Bali Strait.
A legend recounts how the town of Banyuwangi got its name. Based on a traditional Javanese poem, or kidung, which was probably composed sometime during the 14th century, the story is about the ill fated lovers Sidapaksha and his beautiful wife Sri Tanjung. One version from Banyuwangi goes something like this: Sidapak she, a nobleman in the service of the king of Sindureja, married a woman of lower caste named Sri Tanjung. The union, however, was unacceptable to Sidapaksha's mother, who felt that her son had married beneath him. In order to destroy the relationship, therefore, she arranged with the king to have Sidapaksha sent away on a long and difficult mission to Mt Ijen. His task was to search for a legendary flower, possession of which would grant eternal youth to its owner. Sidapaksha was to bring back the flower and present it to the queen. Sadly but dutifully the young man obeyed the king's command, knowing that he would probably be away for a long time and would thus be unable to witness the birth of his first child.

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