Wycombe's blog

Milton Keynes with sunshine

As someone who has travelled extensively around the world, I am used to a strange occurrence or two. But on only one occasion has a taxi driver taken me to the wrong city to the one asked. That came in the United Arab Emirates.

England were playing two T20 matches with Pakistan in 2010 and having watched the warm-up match in Abu Dhabi asked a driver to take me to Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Now taxis are cheap in the UAE, around £20 for the 100 mile journey, and the only realistic method to travel around. But I ended up in Sharjah despite repeated attempts to explain to the driver he was going the wrong way.

I was then forced to pay the extra £10 in travelling costs otherwise the driver would have had to pay that out of his wages to the taxi company. And I could not have a family not being able to eat for a week on my conscience.

The UAE is a baffling place, zero history, and not somewhere I particularly enjoy.

The cricket stadium in Dubai is bang out of the way, in the middle of nowhere. Book a taxi to get you there and make sure you book one back as it can be almost impossible to get away late after a T20 match.

Just be clear in your instructions!

You can stay in the heart of the city but the closest place to the ground is Dubai Investments Park where there is an affordable Premier Inn, where you can eat and drink in the evening and watch live English sport.

I regard Dubai as Milton Keynes with sunshine, although that sunshine can often become sandstorms so bring your buckets and spades!

Beware of local customs, no drinking in public areas, no getting amorous with your partner in public. The UAE has a very harsh set of laws, which have been well documented, but are generally a very tolerant nation and turn blind eyes to many breaches if they are done quietly and inoffensively.

Nightclubs in the UAE are always in hotels, usually underground and often very expensive. You'll probably need a second mortgage to afford a round.

I preferred Abu Dhabi to Dubai. It's less hectic, easier to get around and you can see more. I'd recommend staying at Yas Island, an area of about ten hotels that double up as places to eat, drink and party the night away.

And a good way to burn off excesses of the trip is to head to the Formula 1 motor racing track Yas Marina on a Tuesday night. You can hire a bike or run around the track which is open for fitness fanatics on that evening.

Trips are what you make of them. But if you are looking for the idyllic setting of Cape Town or Adelaide, the sheer bliss of a Barbados or Galle or the history and culture of Mumbai or Lahore think again.

It is a tour that only really appeals to sunseekers or cricket lovers. And one that leaves you longing for Pakistan's return to host international matches in their own country again.


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