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?"

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style

Between the 25-27th of July, Earls Courts’ gloomy interior was doused in shades of bubblegum and parma violets as it played host to Hyper Japan, the venue’s annual celebration of anime, art, Kawaii street fashion and everything that encompasses the term J-culture. Bursting with Japanese pop culture and infused with Asian street food Hyper Japan is an invigorating culture shock that brings cosplayers, creatives and gamers like myself from across the globe.

Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star