Photo: End of the earth.


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Clinging to Java’s eastern shores, Banyuwangi is the gateway to the island from Bali or vice versa and the busy port of Ketapang sees daily convoys of trucks ferried across the Bali Strait to and from Bali’s Gilimanuk.

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Many travellers do nothing more than pass by, but Banyuwangi is worth a stop, if for nothing else but to explore the incredible Kawah Ijen and perhaps have a poke around the southern coast. The town itself lays south of the port with no real discernible centre, larger than it first appears sprawling south and west for several kilometres, and further up into the foothills of Gunung Merapi, the highest peak of the enormous Ijen Plateau which encompasses not just the famous Kawah Ijen (Ijen crater) but also a significant portion of the entirety of far eastern Java.

Breathtaking scenery at Kawah Ijen. Photo taken in or around Banyuwangi, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Breathtaking scenery at Kawah Ijen. Photo: Sally Arnold

Predominantly an agricultural area surrounded by plantations, a focus on the developing tourism sector is beginning to make some of the out-of-the-way areas in this area of Java more accessible. Banyuwangi is a city with notable civic pride, one of the cleanest we’ve set foot in in the whole of Indonesia—it has won the title of Cleanest Tourist City at least five times. Not only is it markedly rubbish free, each kampung is brightly painted and decorated with colourful murals and embellishments—it certainly would win our vote in any tidy town award.

Legend has it that the name Banyuwangi meaning “fragrant water” comes from a tale of lust, devotion and fidelity when King Sulahkromo (Prabu Sulakrama) had his eye on his assistant’s beautiful wife, Sri Tanjung. After she refused the king’s advances, he sent his assistant away on a mission and began rumours as to her disloyalty to her husband. As is usual in these tales, the husband believed the gossip and not his faithful wife, and returned to find her in the King’s arms as he was trying to rape her. In a jealous rage, her stabbed her with his kris and thew her body into the muddy river which instantly turned as clear as crystal and as fragrant as flowers, proving ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,300 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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What next?

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