The lucky escape: How missing out on a trip to the gym saved my life

Guy Holmes had developed a routine for the start of every day of his holiday in the resort of Phuket in Thailand. Each morning at 9.30, with his friend Steve, he would go to the hotel gym which overlooked the mile-wide bay.

On the morning of 26 December, though, Steve played golf instead and Mr Holmes, 43, did not make it to the gym on time. It saved his life. While he sat in his room reading a book, the gym received the full brunt of the first tsunami wave. The sole guest using the running machines was decapitated as he was thrown through a plate glass window.

"I just thought, 'There but for the grace of God ...'" said Mr Holmes, a record company executive. "I saw water coming up the window of my room and ran out looking for my mum. She was standing there taking photos of the waves coming in. Very British.

"The first wave went out and took all the water in the bay with it. The bay was empty, with fish flapping on the shore. The second wave brought back all the debris - cars, deckchairs, everything. It was shocking."

After the first wave had hit the hotel, Mr Holmes tried to find out what had happened to the rest of his party of nine, which included children. He discovered that everyone else had gone into town to do some shopping. "We were so lucky that none of us were on the beach," he said.

The west coast of Thailand was severely hit by the tsunami, with Phuket among the tourist resorts suffering serious damage. More than 5,300 people were confirmed dead and around 3,000 more are still missing. Many British tourists were caught up in the disaster, and the Foreign Office chartered a plane to bring survivors home.

But Mr Holmes and his group decided to stay for the remainder of their break - a further six days. "You cannot abandon people," he said. "The Thai people were truly amazing. They were unflappable. So kind, so helpful, so decent. They earn their living from us; to abandon them would be terrible.

"The day after the tsunami we saw the Thai woman who had been selling pineapples and Coca-Cola to tourists on the beach. She had lost her daughter, but she was back. She said it was her livelihood. We bought a load of pineapples and Coca-Cola."

Mr Holmes, who is the chairman of Gut Records, an independent music label, said the experience had made him view his life in a completely different manner.

"You become a bit more fatalistic and think you are going to enjoy life, because it might all end tomorrow. I know it sounds clichéd, but life is for enjoying. You only live once. It is not a rehearsal."

An example of this new attitude can be found, somewhat bizarrely, at the top of the charts. Mr Holmes is responsible for the Crazy Frog ringtone, which has been at number one for the past three weeks. "The night I got home I turned on all the music channels and kept seeing the Crazy Frog advert. I thought that will make a good song. Before Christmas I would have looked at it and thought that isn't cool enough for me."

This Christmas, Mr Holmes and his friends will return to Phuket. "It is a beautiful place and the people were just amazing. They rely on tourism, so why shouldn't we go back?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions