Ubud's coworking space

What we say: 3.5 stars

When we started Travelfish, one of the greatest advantages (aside from you know, spending all day on the beach drinking margaritas and having back to back foot massages) was not having to work in an office with other people. It’s not that I don’t like other people, or that I like to work in my underwear, rather I prefer to work in my own space, in an environment that is under my control and without any distractions, except for those I want (hello Clash of Clans!).

My typical working environment.

My typical working environment.

So the idea of a co-working space, where you go and work with a bunch of other people, people who may change every day and people who may sit at the next table to you having loud Skype conversations, is a bit anathema to me.

So when I first heard of Hubud (Hub-in-Ubud), a co-working space in Ubud, a Balinese town I am not particularly fond of and at least an hour’s drive from where I live, I wasn’t all that interested. Then slowly, over time, I kept seeing its name pop up, then friends like filmmaker Daniel Ziv often mentioned it, then, finally another friend lambasted me for not being a regular. So a week ago, I made the long trundle up to give it a whirl, and then I tried it again last weekend.

Hubud outlines some of the benefits of working here as including “Enhanced Motivation, Quality Networking, Accelerated Serendipity, Collective Brainpower, Social Stimulation and Modern Facilities”. Daniel broke it down into simpler English, explaining they supposedly have the fastest internet connection in Ubud (note to self, must update all apps), is a great place to meet others, network, and well, it is just a cool, happening place to hang out and see what happens. On all these counts he was right.

Just say no to WiFi.

Just say no to WiFi.

Hubud is set on Monkey Forest Road, about 100 metres (not quite far enough in my opinion) before the monkey infestation really gets going. It’s an upstairs split-level bamboo and wood concoction with an outdoors cafe and small garden area. It’s comfortable and quite cool within (though the upstairs section is uncomfortably warm) and there is plenty of working space, plugs and all that, plus real coffee (Illy) and a cafe with a focus on healthy stuff.

Some desks seat just one, while others will seat small groups of four, six or eight. A whole manner of services beyond just updating all the iPhone apps you haven’t used in years is available, including conference facilities, private Skype chambers, photocopiers, printers and a lot of regular events, such as Indonesian classes and when I visited the second time, a DBS-NUS workshop. (Social Stimulation , Collective Brainpower)

And yes, the internet is fast and yes I updated all my apps in absolute record time. (Modern Facilities)

My outdoor Facebook-station, I mean Workstation.

My outdoor Facebook-station, I mean Workstation.

Living somewhere like Bali, you grow to really appreciate somewhere with blazingly fast internet and Hubud delivers. On my first visit, it also delivered on the “meeting interesting people” thing. Via Daniel I met a Japanese guy, Eiji Han Shimizu, whom I’d describe as a “happiness consultant” — he coaches people on how to be happy, among many other things. I’d never met a happiness consultant before and you know what? He was a really happy guy — I’m smiling as I type this … really! (Accelerated Serendipity)

As a place to work, for me, it’s a bit like going to the pub to work. Just as pubs are built with a purpose, Hubud’s purpose occupies a grey area between buckling down and cranking out some work and sitting there talking about your latest project to empower the masses. Yes, you can put your earphones in and work away, but then what are you missing out on? The eavesdropping material reminded me a lot of Java Cafe in Phnom Penh. But perhaps that is as much Ubud as it is Hubud.

My first visit was a Sunday — the centre was very quiet and the cafe was closed. I loved the serenity, tapping away with a field of rice off to my left and before Daniel and his happy friend arrived, I busied myself and I got a LOT done. Maybe it was just the day, but the clientele was overwhelmingly white, under 35, male and very Ubud. I bought a chunk of hours (see below) and so looked forward to my second try. (Enhanced Motivation)

Snacking between sessions.

Snacking between sessions.

My second visit, on a Saturday, coincided with the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Workshop and the vibe was different. I got there early (around 7am — the centre is open 24 hours) not knowing that there was a function on, as despite checking the schedule nothing was marked. The function meant the centre got packed — really packed. The crowd was a much more diverse pack, with lots of Indonesians. Once it got busy, it really sucked for work — but if you wanted to hang around, meet a bunch of Indonesians with a technology tilt wanting to change their world, you were absolutely in the right place. (Quality Networking)

I’ll definitely keep an eye on their schedule to see if there are interesting events coming up, and if there are, I’d go out of my way to attend. But as a workspace, well I guess in Bali we’re spoiled for ricefield-view cafes with decent (albeit not blazing) and free WiFi. While I don’t think I’ll be using up the rest of my pass time, mainly because of the drive, I will be paying attention to their emails and making more trips to Ubud than I’d prefer to in order to attend some of their events.

However, if you’re either based in or passing through Ubud, and are looking for a comfortable workplace and are keen to meet others with a tech focus, then Hubud is well worth a look in. Prices are not cheap, but the facilities they’re offering are not either.

Membership works in a staggered system starting at five co-working hours for 200,000 rupiah and 25 hours for 500,000 rupiah, through to 2,500,000 rupiah for unlimited hours for a month.

More details
88x Monkey Forest Road
Last updated: 28th January, 2014

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
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