I'M BACK in Bali after a decade and a half. This trip wasn’t in my plan but when surf riders Kim & Nikki asked if I wanted to come along, I jumped at the chance to see this island destination. No coincidence, it was just time for me to step on Balinese soil again.

With the surfboards on the rented car’s rooftop, we made our way to Canggu (say it with an “h” after “c”- Chang-gu), where one of the popular surfing spots in the island is. Exiting Ngurah Rai International Airport, our ride wove its way along the busy roads that were so unfamiliar to me. Fifteen years of absence is a long time after all.

Thirty minutes later we reached our home in the coastal village of Canggu, the Jungle Joglo, a beautiful 3-bedroom private villa flanked by rice paddies. The surrounding area is serene and relaxing, a contrast to the busy and crowded area of Kuta only ten kilometers away.

The area of Canggu used to have more expansive views of rice fields and coconut groves but with the growing tourist industry comes the rapid development. Soon enough private villas and commercial spaces will be replacing these traditional views. I’m glad I caught the area still with green spaces and tranquil nooks.

Designed in modern Balinese architecture, Jungle Joglo’s living and dining spaces are spacious and open looking out to a swimming pool at the center of a lush tropical garden. It was an instant immersion to good vibes, which carried on into the three large air-conditioned bedrooms.

Handcrafted wires and jute rope form words like Live, Love, Laugh and Cool adorn the walls and crates, which found new use as shelves for kick knacks and clothes, are reminders of the Balinese energy everyone should, and will, be imbibing.

The open toilet and bath in each room is a treat. Fresh air and sunlight make the private space quite cozy but quite chilly to the bare body on nights of the cold months.

What’s especially surprising is the very affordable rate the newly built villa goes for. With specials that can go as low as US$100 a night, good for six people, staying at this address is indeed a steal.

Getting around Canggu is best on motorbike. Two were ready for us at the gate when we arrived. This is just one of the services the villa’s owners, Palda and Veronika, can arrange for their guests prior to arrival.

I can ride a bicycle but driving a motorbike is totally different. It only made it a few meters away from the gate before I gave up. I never gave it another chance, most especially after hearing the horrific stories of my friends falling in canals and rice paddies. In Bali, I had a new found respect for the motorbikers.

Luckily, the beach where my friends surf, the Batu Bolong Beach, was walking distance and the all-day weather was cool even with the sun shining brightly. “It’s because the winds blowing in come from the direction of Australia where it’s winter,” said a local.

The walk by one of the main roads, Jalan Batu Bolong (the other three are Jalan Padang Linjong, Jalan Batu Mejan and Jalan Tanah Barak), allowed me to stop, peek or dine at the many restaurants and shops. But completing the distance was rare as Kim, the lone motorbiker in the household, (with good heart) took the role of chauffeur shuttling us to and from the beach.

Along the beach there are two main temples, Pura Batu Bolong and Pura Batu Mejan, which are both hundreds of years old.

Surf’s up! As my friends ride the waves, it was time for me to explore Canggu, after a bottle of Bintang.

(For more photos about this story, & other travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/)