'I suppose we should start at the beginning,' says Sandy Sydney, 29. 'We'd met about two years ago at the gym I work at. She was in the gym and she was always checking me out. 'Ha,' exclaims 27-year-old Francesca von Etzdorf in a dismissive manner. SS: 'Then one night we ended up working together at a function. She was doing the modelling side ...' FvE: 'And he was doing the body side.' SS: 'That's when we really became friends and we got to know each from there. Then, about two months before we went on the show, that's when we really got together. One night later on we were watching The Amazing Race and we just started talking about how much fun it would be to do something like that. We had never travelled together before we signed on and started.' FvE: 'I have travelled all my life. I grew up in Hong Kong and studied in the UK. And I've travelled all over Asia. Sandy hasn't done much travelling at all. So the whole experience was very odd. 'I don't really want to say it was meant to be but it did all fall into sequence. We watched an episode of The Amazing Race and it was the first time we had watched TV in so long. And we both said it would be incredible to do that. Then a friend of Sandy's told us about The Amazing Race Asia and how he'd put in an audition tape.' SS: 'We got ours together on the very last day. They wanted a three-minute DVD of the couple to get an idea about your chemistry. So we shot ours around the gym and around Francesca's work.' FvE: 'It started with bloopers and then talked about why we wanted to do it. For us it was never about the money. It was about the experience, the travelling. It was about us putting ourselves into positions we had never been in before, physically, mentally and emotionally.' SS: 'When you watch these shows you ask yourself, 'Could I actually do that?' They look like so much fun.' FvE: 'Anyway, we got through the selection process. And that brings us up to the first day. 'Anyone who has seen the show can tell we didn't do much preparation. We hadn't met any of the other couples because they don't want any sort of relationships to develop between the different couples beforehand. 'Then we started to hear things like, 'We have watched every single episode of The Amazing Race', 'Yeah, we have been running every day for 20km on the treadmill with 20kg on our backs for a month'. And Sandy and I were like, 'What the ... ?' I think we went into it thinking we'll just take everything as it comes.' SS: 'We thought we'd just cruise, we'd be fine. We just wanted to see what they could throw at us. There wasn't any real preparation on our parts at all. We just kept living our lives as we normally do and went in wanting to see where it would all lead us.' FvE: 'We hadn't even talked about what it would do for our relationship. We were a bit, 'La, la, la ... we're just here to have fun.' But immediately you are tested in so many ways. We were lucky that first episode was not an elimination. We got caught out straight away. We got caught out by not reading the clues properly. We didn't know what was going on. 'You start, and you can sit and talk about it beforehand if you want to. But you also have to do things, like eat, that you might not have time to do later. Then you are thrown into it and the adrenaline just starts pumping. It is really intense. It's an emotional roller coaster the whole way.' SS: 'You never know what is going to happen. That's one thing the people doing the show are very good at. They never give anything away, so you go in totally blind. As far as the cameras go, you forget about them pretty quickly. You just have to hope you don't forget about them so much that you start picking your nose.' FvE: 'You just have to hope they don't pick up some of the bad things. A lot of the time you can't really remember what you did. I'm just praying that it's not too bad as they don't show you the final tapes. All we have seen is a preview tape of the first episode, so each week we have to sit down and watch what they have produced, just like everyone else.' SS: 'You are left not knowing how they are going to build your characters, which is a worry.' FvE: 'I'm pretty sure I'll come off worse. But you have to swallow your pride a bit and know people will see you at your worst.' SS: 'As a couple, you have to accept that there are times when you are going to bicker and argue. But you have to let that go immediately and move on.' FvE: 'You realise there are many things that happen that you don't have time to really think about - you just act. You learn a lot about your ability to act under pressure and to act within your relationship. 'You begin thinking, 'Am I going to make a fool of myself?' But that disappears almost straight away because you have to get on with it and get involved.' SS: 'We realised we had to act really quickly. For me, the worst moment of the whole experience was going into that first episode. The anticipation as the seconds tick away. It was terrible. Once it started it wasn't so bad. It was just that feeling of, 'OK, here we go.'' FvE: 'We're not really allowed to talk about it, but there is one defining moment for us coming up. I'm still having nightmares about it. Personally, I think I might have finally learned that I might not always be right. 'But for us, we have got so much out of this experience as a couple. It makes you so much stronger. You find out all the things about each other that you might have been trying to keep hidden.'