• Chelsea Rustrum

Top 10 Ways to Share in Bali

Updated: Feb 21

1. Beer and conversation at airport

While waiting for my flight to board from a stopover in Hong Kong to Denpasar, this friendly-looking guy sat too close to me for it to have been an accident. I kept thinking: he could have sat anywhere, but he plopped himself right next to me and started asking me questions. My first response was to be alarmed, but I quickly realized that he was lovely and just looking for some company before the flight. As we were boarding the plane, he asked me what my seat number was – looked like we were on the opposite side of the plane from one another. Bummer.

As circumstance would have it, there was a critical error in the safety checks announced 45 minutes after taking off, and we’d have to circle back to Hong Kong. Upon landing, my new friend Joel and I shared a beer and conversation, paid for courtesy of Cathay Pacific in the Hong Kong airport. I learned that he was on his way to see he ex in Bali. We shared emotional details, life lessons, and laughter over a larger-than-life jug of beer.

This kind of sharing is just being able to see someone and let them into the intricacies of my heart, willing to open, even if it’s just for a moment. I think the people of Couchsurfing taught me that strangers are in fact, not so strange – they are just like me!

Sharing lesson: Be open. This involves smiling and talking to people who talk to you (or even starting new conversations yourself) and considering anyone you might meet a possible new friend. Allow yourself to feel the fear of an unknown person, check-in and decide if that’s really the experience you want to have or if that’s simply coming from pre-programmed fear.

Joel and I met in Hong Kong before the plane rerouted back. We shared beers & stories.

2. Taxi from airport to destination

Upon arriving to DPS (Denpasar in Bali), I was bombarded by offers for a taxi – most of which seemed rather expensive according to my memory of the last trip I’d taken to Bali. Also, since I was traveling alone, I didn’t feel comfortable getting in a random, non-sanctioned taxi. I was told Uber worked in Bali, but I also didn’t like the idea of paying next to nothing for my ride through the app, which I was also aware was the case.

So, I kept circling and returning to the standardized taxi counter outside of the airport where they wanted 400,000 rp. to get my to my spot, Ananda Cottages, in Ubud. Since that was more than I ever paid and 100,000 more rp. than even their sign read, I waited. My final strategy was to wait at the taxi counter where the gentleman were rather annoyed I hadn’t yet agreed to pay their requested rate.

A few uncomfortable minutes later, a young, attractive guy showed up and asked to go to Ubud. I asked him if I could share and offered to go to his hotel first and get a ride to my place after to make things easier. Done. The taxi driver tried to talk us out of sharing, saying it wasn’t possible, but we just pushed through. There was no reason that this didn’t make sense all the way around.

On the drive, I learned that he is from the U.K., lives in Chiang Mai, and is working on a startup, which is development platform for mobile apps. He lives a totally different life than most of his family and friends, which proves difficult, but finds solace in places like Thailand and Bali where people like him congregate. We became fast friends and later helped me get setup in Ubud, as he’d lived there just 6 months prior. So we shared the ride, each paid half the price, and made a new connection to someone that lives in a different part of the world, but has a similar philosophy and style of work balance and adventure.

Sharing lesson: Always try to share rides, especially at long distances from the airport (Denpasar to Ubud is about an hour). At worst, you’ll save 50% and at best, you’ll make a new friend who will also be in the location you’re both headed.

3. A beautiful meal at Angels 9

You know the guy I met at the Denpasar airport – his name is James. A few days after our airport journey, he took me to Angels 9 also known as 9 Warung, which is 100% vegan Indonesian food where you arrive and basically pay whatever you want.

There is no one to take your money at the buffet line, no dish washer, no server, etc. You literally pick your drink, your food, and your own silverware and chow down. Then, you bus your own table and wash the dishes. When you’re finished, you put the amount you’d like to pay in a jar on the table. There is a suggested amount that you pay for each item, but again – you decide. You can also donate another amount for a meal for someone else, and then put a tag up that gives someone who needs it access to a free meal.

Angels 9 works as a community space for local events like ecstatic dance as well as a place for people to feel whole and nurtured, connecting over food.

Sharing lesson: Generosity has many forms – look for it when you travel! And being open to sharing that ride (see #2) is what led me to Angels 9 with James, a place that was already on my list of places to check out. What beautiful serendipity!

Angels 9

The credo of Angels 9, a by-donation restaurant. Plus, you serve yourself, do your own dishes

3. Coworking & events at Hubud

4 years ago, I took 10 entrepreneurs to Bali for a startup camp I put together called Startup Abroad. At that time, Steve and Peter were closing in on the space to open up Hubud, the first coworking space of its kind in Bali.

Our group met with Steve over dinner and got to know them in passing. So when I climbed the stairs to Hubud, Steve’s friendly face was staring back at me. We chatted for a few minutes and he quickly introduced me to Mike, who put together CUAsia, a coworking conference zeroing in on southeast Asia. We chatted for a few minutes and Mike seemed rather hurried and uninterested, but I brushed it off. I also met Andy, who had just returned from two weeks at a Duchy Holidays in Cornwall, which as he said is a totally different type of vacation!

Upon landing there, I decided to try to make friends since I’d be in Bali for three weeks.

The space is amazing and there were incredible events and people showing up nearly daily – even people I knew from San Francisco. Although, I think it’s difficult to connect in Ubud when you’re passing through.

I did notice a slightly ‘cool vibe’ there and other places in Ubud that was a bit off putting, but I chalked it up to being new and easing into the community. Sometimes, a place has a different social norm that you just have to get used to – I was only the super friendly, let’s share everything tangent, so perhaps not everyone is there or can even remain there consistently.

Sharing lesson: Coworking spaces are sharing hubs. I always try to land in a coworking space to get acquainted with the local art, creativity, and entrepreneurship scene – especially when traveling. You can now find coworking locations all over the world, even in small towns.


Hubud Coworking in Ubud

4. Breakfast at my cottage oasis

For the first few nights of my Bali adventure, I stayed in the rice fields/jungle in the outskirts of Ubud. To my surprise, the Ananda Cottages had one of the best buffets I’ve had in ages. Beautiful fruit, bread, Indonesian dishes, eggs, fresh juice, coffee, tea, ginger, etc. What a spread! Since I was traveling alone, I had double occupancy available to me, which I took to mean that I could invite new friends I made to experience this smorgasbord with me. Mike, the guy I met at Hubud ended up pinging me through Facebook and we chatted for hours one night at this new spot called Room for Dessert. A lot of the people of Hubud love this place. Personally, I think it’s an overpriced, simple cocktail bar.

Maybe I’m spoiled by living in San Francisco? Or perhaps I’m just not a dessert person? I digress. I invited Mike to meet me at breakfast the following morning. He was excited, especially after I showed him pictures of the buffet line. As it turned out, he woke up too late to make breakfast (he didn’t respond to my Facebook message until it was over).

Sharing lesson: There is always something you can share. Think about what you have that’s left over or unused and offer it to someone – this works great with breakfast when you’re traveling alone, but I’m sure there are many other extras you can share with other travelers as well.

The best breakfast buffet I’ve ever had at Ananda Cottages

5. SIM cards & bikes

Remember my friend James who shared the ride with me from Denpasar to Ubud? He helped me again! I needed a motorbike and no one would give me the standard rate (they wanted more rupiah) and regardless of that, no one had bikes to rent (they all said: “Come back tomorrow”). James told me he had a spot, so I picked up a Scoopy that same day for half the price and James gave me a ride there. He also explained to me how the SIM cards worked and picked me up one when he purchased his.

His help saved me hours of deliberation, research, and negotiation.

Sharing lesson: By being open and taking a risk to share the ride in the first place, I met James who led me to other lovely people and experiences. And after James helped me, I helped several others get bikes. Always pay-it-forward when someone shows you kindness.

6. Friendship and meals

I had many incredible soul barring meals as well as connected ones where we had more of an intellectual conversation.

A few days in to my out of the way place (Ananda Cottages in the outskirts of Ubud), I decided to walk to Ubud.

On the way there, I met an introverted girl named Amanda who has lived in southeast Asia for years, doing economic development research. She wasn’t amicable to my over friendliness at first, but eventually warmed up. She took me to this great spot in the middle of Ubud, Kafe, which is a cliche tourist and local favorite. I learned that she pays $250 a month in rent, which includes bi-weekly cleaning, living next to an Indonesian family.

On another occasion, I met a woman my moms age in the same restaurant. As I was leaving, I looked over, and somehow we started chatting. She was looking for a new hotel and so was I, so we went on an adventure to find one together as well as shared a meal and spoke of our closest relationships and learnings.

I also ran into Andrew, a guy I’ve known for years, but never really had a substantial conversation with. He’s one of the first employees at Airbnb – we ended up going on many adventures together in a short period, including blindfolded contact dance (just like it sounds), a great meal at the Elephant, and a random motorbike ride to damn instead of a waterfall (couldn’t find the waterfall).

Later, I met with a friend of a friend who is working on a coliving development project in Stockholm. We met and chatted about our past few years of life and where we’re respectively at. He agreed that solo travel is the best. And as we were leafing through a guide, found a silent meditation retreat, which he ended up going to. I thought I’d end up there, but wound up choosing a more social journey instead – shocker, I know.

And finally, while I was away, my dearest aunt passed away. At this point, I was staying on a street that had way more locals than tourist, in a family compound at Tagel Karsa House. Down the street, there were some food carts, so one morning after waking up late, talking to my mom, and sobbing on the phone, I journeyed there.

The sweetest Indonesian woman greeted me, cooked me a fresh meal in her wok, and then looked at me in a concerned manner, “Are you just tired?” she questioned. I explained how sad I was and what/who I’d lost. She couldn’t have been sweeter or more nurturing. She gently gave me an incredible amount of grace and listened to where I was hurting, relating the experience. I felt so held in that moment.

Sharing lesson: Invite people to share a meal with you. And reach out to your friends, letting them know you’re away (a Facebook post works great for this). Perhaps a friend of a friend can introduce you to someone new. If not, find a hostel, bar, or social location and give people the gift of connection. Open up, and if someone notices where you’re at emotionally, even if it’s not a good place, tell them. Give them the possibility to share in your love as well as your pain for that’s what makes us human and feel alive.


New friend I met at Kafe in Ubud


Crew that shared a villa in Canggu

7. Meaningful social sharing

Back home (as you’ve already read), my aunt was sick, but I wasn’t aware of just how sick she was… She had cancer and it was in an advanced stage. While I was gone, I was sending her little tidbits of my experiences. One morning, there was a rooster, pecking at my door. I got up and noticed that there was also a hen and a school of chicks following her around the yard. With the rooster pecking at the door, crowing, and the chicks scurrying around the meadow in front of the jungle, I captured the moment on video and sent it to my aunt Lisa.

Lisa replied with, “Thanks sweetie. This made my day!” I sent an “I love you” in reply and that was that. But that wasn’t that. She died just a few days later. That was the last conversation I had with her, but it feels right. She was a big time traveler, so I know she appreciates the spirit by which I just go and flow where ever I am.

I felt and feel like no conversation ever feels conclusive when someone dies, but I was happy that I lightened her experience, if even for a moment in the days before she passed. I will miss her for the rest of my life, but I’m grateful for all of the lessons she shared with me and for having the independence she did, which has given me confidence that I can be that way in my own life.

Sharing lesson: Let your loved ones in. You don’t have to be a social media star to share your life with your family and friends, you just have to be intentional, keeping them in your thoughts, helping them see what you do, as you see it. Send a video clip, story, thought, or quote to someone as something reminds you of them, even if it’s a rooster and chickens. You never know when your last moments to connect and share might be.

8. Coliving in Ubud!

If you know me, you’re probably aware that shared housing is a big interest of mine. I believe that we need to fundamentally change the way that we live and work, which involves restructuring housing to be more communal as well as systematically changing our business structures to reflect the new age.

Coliving is one such way to share housing and it usually involves medium to large sized houses, but Roam in Ubud has a different take. They are gathering larger sized buildings, which function more like medium sized hotels where entrepreneurs and freelancers can share space and live and work from anywhere.

Their first location is in Ubud of all places. I met Bruno, the founder of Roam over a year ago in San Francisco when he pitched this idea to me – though neither of us remember the particulars of the meeting.

Anyway, gravity led me there.

When I posted my location, a friend in San Francisco tagged several friends on Facebook, a few of which I already knew and one that I didn’t. One of them was a girl named Kiki, who I’d met at Coworking Camp in Turkey of all places a little over a year ago. I basically pinged everyone and invited myself to the community.

Eventually there were some events and adventures that the crew was going on, and I’d comment on the Facebook group until someone invited me. I didn’t have the mind to stay there as I really wanted to be with the Balinese and not so much with my own kin from the Silicon Valley and other such places. I went to a make your own sushi night, a BBQ, a Yes Tribe meetup, and took a trip with this group to Canggu. They are a fun, smart group of people and I recommend checking them out if you’re wanting to live in major cities of the world, whilst having a community.

The way that it works (at least for right now) is that you pay a flat rate of $1,600 to live there and if you want to move to another Roam location, you can. The only catch is that you have to live in each location a minimum of 30 days and the locations are currently limited to Ubud and Miami, which is just opening in April of this year.

Sharing lesson: Invite yourself. Show up. Participate. Again, and this is a theme for sure – be open. In this case, I was told about Roam, but I had to reach out to get connected. Find the communities where ever you are and ask how you can get involved.

Also, as a side note – I ended up being with this group of people when I got news that my aunt was going to pass shortly. I broke apart and they couldn’t have been more loving, supportive, and present to helping me logistically contact my family and get what I needed as I needed it. That’s the power of community. Imagine if I had been alone in those moments?


The coworking area and bar at Roam Coliving in Ubud

9. Pool at my hotel

After signing up for Hubud, I realized that I wanted to be closer to the center of Ubud, so I booked Ubud Tropical Garden for more than I typically like to pay across the street from the coworking space. It might be on a busy road, but this place is set back in an oasis on the rice paddies with a pool overlooking the fields.

I figured I should share my pool with the people at the coworking space, so I offered my skills, invited people to share a meal with me, and pool access to anyone who wanted it. While I didn’t have any takers, but I did meet some new people.

Sharing lesson: SHARE! When you have something that someone else can use, offer it up – even if there are no takers, you’re teaching other people by example.


The pool at the Tropical Garden Ubud, across from Hubud Coworking

10. Jek bike sharing

When I was at Roam, I met an Asia based venture capitalist who was telling me all about the shared transportation services in Bali and, ahem, wars. One of the most interesting things he told me about was Jek, a motorbike sharing service, which works a lot like Uber, but with motor bikes. I was on the lookout for it when I was in Ubud and I caught a glimpse of a Jek branded helmet and a passenger getting off a bike.

I wish I had a photo! What I can tell you, though – is that Uber and other shared transportation services are highly contested by the local taxi authority as you can see in the photo above.

Sharing lesson: Ask locals what shared transportation services exist where you’re at – they vary regionally and can save you money and time.


Sign in Canggu. There is tension with various forms of new shared and technology enabled transit

As I read through this post one final time, I noticed a few things. One that I shared a lot more of my emotional and personal experience than I normally do. I feel like this used to be the way of the web, but personal blogs have been replaced my articles, listicles, and cute cats. What I’m attempting to do here is to meld the personal and professional experience into something that feels less compartmentalized so that you might understand the real journey.

I hope you learned something about having a sharing mentality. If you want to be infused with more details and ways that you can share, please do check out It’s a Shareable Life for more ideas. If your organization needs to understand the collaborative economy and how it’s affecting industry and culture at large, you can book me as a speaker and facilitator to help your team think differently.

Thanks for being on the journey with me – just reading this connects us.

Also, feel free to connect on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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