Abu Dhabi: plenty to do
It's the eve of the second Test and I cannot wait for it to start. We've tried our best to get the most out of this extended break between matches but after five days of non-cricket related activities, I'm ready to spend my time in the UAE on the grass banks of the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium hopefully watching a famous English victory.
This feeling is reflected among my fellow supporters - slightly twitchy from the lack of cricket, and ever so slightly uninspired by our surrounds. It's not that we aren't enjoying being on tour - the takings in the hotel bar reflect that - it's just that the UAE has never been on any of our "must-visit-places-before-we-die" lists.
For many, Dubai, just like England's batting, was a bit of a disappointment. The ground itself was comfortable enough, but like so many new purpose-built sporting arenas, it was in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by incomplete buildings, the place had a slightly soulless feel to it. It was a world away from Adelaide or the Antigua Recreation Ground in St Johns, where people can walk up to the ground from the city centre as they please. I guess everywhere needs to start somewhere, and perhaps in time Dubai Sports City can build a history of its own - after all this was only the third Test it has hosted.
Abu Dhabi promises much more. The match starts on a Wednesday, meaning the likelihood of more Pakistani support over the weekend. The match is free entry for all and with Pakistan one-up in the series, I expect more backing for the "home" side. We've also found some more worthwhile activities to do away from the hotel's happy hours, including a trip to our favourite Sheikh's mosque, which is among the top ten largest mosques in the world. The ground, the main road through town and the mosque - the way everything is named after him, anyone would think he built the place.
Our time has also been spent discussing whether England can turn things around. The level of confidence has definitely dropped after the ten- wicket defeat in Dubai. Many of us believe our side can replicate Boxing Day 2010, where England bounced back from defeat in Perth in the most memorable of manners.
In the meantime I must dash. I have a date with a push bike and a formula one racetrack. I never thought I'd say that on tour...
Richard Kemp is in the UAE on his ninth cricket tour with the England side. Since his first tour in 2004, his love for the game has made him max out several credit cards visiting five Test-playing nations, including three tours of India and all five of last winter's Ashes Test matches. He keeps a travel blog of his journeys here