Sydney - Sightseeing, Surfing, and the Playboy mansion...
You'd have thought that after backpacking for 8 months we'd be used to border crossings and what was required but we arrived at Christchurch airport only to find that we'd neglected to obtain an Australian ETA. Thankfully though, the baggage check-in guy quickly pointed us to the 'desk for muppets who assume a British passport will get you in anywhere' where we were relieved of the last of our NZ dollars in return for an instant on-line visa.
Once in Sydney we had arranged to stay with friends and arrived at the house expecting to be crashing on the sofa or floor but instead found ourselves at the 'Playboy Mansion' - a huge house reminiscent of 70's porn chic and complete with jacuzzi and swimming pool - Hugh Hefner himself would have been envious! After spending the last month in a camper van it was a huge treat to have such luxury although Paddy was somewhat disappointed at the absence of any bunny girls!
Time and finances meant that Australia was only ever going to be a week-long stopover en-route to Bangkok but it was a great excuse see the city and to catch up with friends. Sydney is a fantastic city - The Opera House and Harbour Bridge are very impressive and it's the perfect place to wander around. Paddy decided to practise his surfing so it was off to Bondi beach for some sea and surf although he hadn't banked on 10ft waves rather than the 3ft ones he'd learnt on and an hour later he returned battered and bruised but very proud he'd managed to stay on the board for a whole 4 seconds!
The Sydney Festival was being held at the time we were there which was great for pikey backpackers like us as there were lots of free events being held all over the city and we spent evenings at outdoor cinemas and open air concerts which was a real novelty as similar events in the UK are usually freezing cold or rained off!
However, all too soon it was time to leave. By now we'd spent almost 2 months in English speaking countries, we'd had the luxury of cappucinos, excellent wine and not having to endure torturous bus journeys on unsealed roads - life was far too easy! Before we got too used to our life of luxury, we had one final leg of our trip left and off we headed for the continent of temples, beaches and paddy fields - Southeast Asia...