This is what I mean: I’ve been wanting to get back to Palm Cove in Brisbane, Australia for four years. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. So, this trip to Australia KR and I allocated five whole days to Palm Cove. Mistake, big mistake, as you can see most of PC in an hour. It has four restaurants and two bars — all of which are crowded, offer really bad food and warm beer. And, it took us five flights to get there and back. As I said, be careful what you wish for: )

I ended our last post with this hope:  that we’d travel more in the immediate future.  Well, we’ve been on 23 flights in the last month to India, LA, Australia, India, LA and back to PV!  I want to take that wish back and insert another –  I want to stop moving for a bit and figure out how to do this easier.

This is what the last 30 days have looked like (flights):

India Trip No 1

Kartikeya Singh was among our group in West Bengal. We went to 5-6 universities and gave speeches, did panel discussions, and then held photo sessions. This was a typical crowd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • PV to Houston
  • Houston to DC
  • DC to London
  • London to New Delhi
  • New Delhi to Kolkata
  • Kolkata to Newark
  • Newark to LA
  • LA to PV

PAUSE

Trip to Australia

I was a speaker at the first “National Clean Tech Conference and Expo” in Brisbane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • PV to LA
  • LA to Sydney
  • Sydney to Brisbane
  • Brisbane to Cairns
  • Cairns to Brisbane
  • Brisbane to LA
  • LA to PV

PAUSE

India Trip No. 2

We officially launched the West Bengal Innovation Network at the Bengal Global Business Summit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • PV to Houston
  • Houston to Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt to Delhi
  • Delhi to Kolkata
  • Kolkata to Singapore
  • Singapore to Tokyo
  • Tokyo to LA
  • LA to PV

PAUSE…

It’s tough for me to admit, but I’m getting older.  It’s harder and harder to walk the mile between gates at the Frankfurt airport.  Or to bench press my 40+ pound carry-on to the overhead bin for each of these flights.  It’s getting harder to go take meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting when I’m on the road for NGIN – all while feeling jet lagged.

Twice in the last month people have asked me, “Well, how long are you going to work?”  I know they’re think’n that Walti is 70+ and how much longer can he last?  And here’s the gods-honest-truth:  until someone asked me that question, I’d never even thought about it.  But, you can’t put the spilled milk back in the bottle so I’ve been thinking about the question.

My answer is I don’t f___ing know; I don’t really care to know, and I’ll know it when the time is right.  The way I’m feeling today, I’m done right now.  But then I think about how inspiring it is to meet all these young entrepreneurs all over the globe.  How much I like speaking about how entrepreneurs can and must stop climate change.  How I like pushing the ball uphill, thinking that I can change city’s actions on climate and entrepreneurship.

And here’s the rub, I don’t want to take a break ’cause I’m afraid if I take a break the downhill slide will just get steeper.

All my friends have long ago hung up their spurs and they seem to be having a lot of fun.  I’m jealous as I want to have fun too.  But, I don’t want to have fun enough to let go, or as Michael Corleone said, “Whenever I try to leave, they keep pulling me back in!”  Or something like that.

Air travel is tougher today than ever before.  Consider:

  • The airports are more crowded than I’ve ever seen them.  People are done with COVID lockdowns.
  • Getting a visa  is harder and harder because of health and security concerns.  I filled out a 17 page application to get into Australia and I applied three times to get into India. Often, the process at the airport is show passport/boarding pass at the airport entrance, check-in at the counter (I have not been able to check in digitally for any of my trips), go through immigration, go through security, and go through security again at the gate.  If you’re unlucky, they’ll open your bag at each opportunity just because they can. This is after you’ve gotten a visa, taken a RAT  test, filled out the form that they can use to track your movements in country.
  • You need to take lots of COVID RAT tests to/from a lot of places
  • It’s getting much more expensive.  The airlines are charging for everything.  Want an electrical socket at your seat?  You’ll have to upgrade to the special seats-just-in-front-of-the-cattle-car.
  • The most expensive way to fly is to fly non-stop.  This is especially true when you’re flying to far away places.  Going non stop can cost $5K (coach) vs $2K for the three-hoppers I take.
  • There are no travel agents anymore who can help you. No, one has to get good using Google Flights and the various other travel platforms.  If you make a mistake or want a refund, good luck with that.
  • And now that there’s war in Ukraine, two of my international flights were cancelled because the route came too close to Russian airspace.  But, hey flying over Iran and Afghanistan is fine…

To combat the above, here’s Fred’s rules of the road:

  • Book far out
  • Use Google Flights to ID potential carriers, schedules and prices, then go to each carrier to see if you can get it cheaper direct.  Join every airline’s frequent flyer program that you use.  Same for hotels, etc.
  • Join any airline lounge you can (most only let you in if you’ve reached a certain level of frequent flyer status and/or if you’re traveling on business class or above).  Credit cards — especially AMEX — sometime come with lounge access.  Being comfortable and getting free food during long layovers is worth it.
  • Never check a bag, especially on international trips where there is a stopover as you have to go thru immigration, get your bag, go through customs, re-check your bags, and then go through security.
  • Only use luggage with four wheels (called spinners) and make sure they’re sturdy enough to hold your backpack, etc.
  • Download lots of entertainment as a backup to airline movies
  • If you’re renting a car, don’t go by the $/day quote as rental companies add on different kinds of fees.  So a $50/day car may cost you a lot more than the one listed for $75/day.  Bring proof of insurance so you don’t have to purchase their insurance.
  • Don’t save your airline miles too long as they expire sooner than you think

Here’s what the past month or so looks like in pictures.

INDIA NO.1

Sunrise over a rice field about 200kms north of Kolkata. Days began early and ended lated

Kartikeya, Vinay and Fred about to address an auditorium full of engineering students

An organic farm company’s team retreat in West Bengal. About 70 members of the company attended the retreat.  Pretty cool to see how organic rice is made (hint: not easily)

A sign that says it all

West Bengal has excellent universities and colleges. While their facilities may not be as nice as the US, I found the professors and administrators to be very very innovative. This is how one engineering college teaches.

Lots and lots of selfies. I almost felt like a rock star…until I looked in the mirror.

AUSTRALIA

The “National Clean Tech Conference and Expo” in Brisbane was the first in-person conference I’ve attended in 2+ years. It was a bit early as maybe 200 people were physically there.

The only thing to do at night was eat as it was pouring rain in Brisbane the entire time we were there. This is a Thai restaurant in which robots delivered the order which turned out to be one of the more personable waiters we had in Australia

We rented a car in Cairns (about two hour flight north east of Brisbane) and drove up the coast. This was a pretty amazing scene on the beach with hundreds of cairns.

I came across another huge man-eating turkey in downtown Brisbane. Long story short, KR and I have had some health challenges recently and this shot is in front of a hospital in Brisbane. All turned out well.

INDIA #2

The purpose of my second trip to India was to launch the program we’ve been working on for the past 1 1/2 years: West Bengal Innovation Network. Here the team signs an MOU with the government at the annual Bengal Global Business Summit

Lots of speeches. This one is at the Earth Day Festival on Saturday afternoon on the last day of the trip

We even made it in one of India’s largest newspapers

 

 

This was one of my favorite meetings; a work session with the Director of a Kolkata university designing a curriculum to focus on entrepreneurship.

This is how I got around in West Bengal — in the back of a car/cab. While I don’t think it’s the best way, it is the easiest and safest. You have to practice keeping your eyes open as near crashes with everything from buses to cows happen every minute

Workshops along a street

The everyman’s taxi — tuk tuks.

I tried to do some tourist things during the afternoon of the last day, but couldn’t quite pull it off. The Victoria Memorial only takes cash and I was out. It was nice looking at it through the fence, though. Temperatures hit 103F.

On the way home I stopped in LA, rented a car, and drove to Borrego Springs to attend an annual Boys in the Desert event that’s been going on for x30+ years. This is CB and LJ

New beginnings — LowBuck’s new (rebuilt) engine ready to be inserted. My mechanic in Sandia Park has been working on LowBuck since November…

 

BREAKING NEWS

We made it back to NoHo! After five months away and countless number of winter storms, all seems well at Laguna.

 

First stop is always the Lucky Lizard 

 

Successful heart transplant. Surgeon stands next to LowBuck after resuscitation

 

We go back to PV in five days and then off to Africa at the end of this month.

 

fw

1 reply
  1. chuck says:

    Hi FW and KR. It’s Las Vegas, you know the folks who go nowhere! Actually we did, for the first time in three years, go to visit our Grand daughter, Quincy (age 10) in Ballston Spa, NY…for a couple of weeks. Maybe one day, you’ll make a wrong turn and end up in Vegas??? Stay well. Lois and Chucky

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