Australians in Thailand have paid tribute to the thousands of victims of the Boxing Day tsunami, which brought death, ruin and destruction to resort beaches 10 years ago.
The tsunamis spread despair and destruction over 14 countries around the Indian Ocean, and left a death toll of more than 225,000.
For Australians, the anniversary will bring back scenes from Thailand – the initial shocking video of waves smashing beaches recognisable to so many, and the stories of holidaymakers who would never make it home.
Of the 26 Australians who died in the 2004 catastrophe, 23 were lost in Thailand.
Former Sydney lifeguard Grant Young paddled out into the surf at Khao Lak on Friday morning and scattered frangipanis in the water, his personal tribute to the victims.
His first visit to Thailand was two months after the disaster, when he was struck by the character of the people he met.
“I fell in love with the place,” he told AAP.
“They’re that sort of people, they just get on with life, they don’t sit around.
“But a lot of people are afraid of another tsunami coming through.
“I know Thai people who won’t go anywhere near the water now.”
Jorja Braden took time out from her holiday to reflect at Khao Lak’s tsunami memorial.
“It’s a bit unreal being here on a holiday at the beach,” the Sydney woman said.
“You can’t imagine what it was like here 10 years ago.
“It was at the forefront of my mind, 10 years ago, imagine the horror that happened, what would you do? The devastation must have been horrible.”
Khao Lak was the worst-hit part of Thailand’s southern coast, with at least 4000 victims.
The tsunami’s power was enough to drive a 60-tonne police boat two kilometres inshore.
The hundreds of mostly thatched buildings in its path were simply obliterated.
Among the victims were honeymooners Moi Vogel, 32, and Christian Nott, 34.
Ms Vogel, a Sydney television producer, had last called home on Christmas Day, to tell her father she was expecting a child to her photographer husband.
Most Australian lives were lost at Phuket, which was less seriously impacted by the tsunami, but back then hosted more tourists from Australia than any other country.
One of the first Aussies to be feared dead was Melbourne teenager Paul Giardina.
Paul, 16, had Down syndrome and a limited ability to speak. He became separated in the water from his father Joe.
They’d been having breakfast in the beachfront restaurant of the Seaview Hotel when the water burst through.
Australians also died at Phi Phi island, including Melbourne AFL player Troy Broadbridge.
The footballer, 24, and his new wife Trisha, also on their honeymoon, were walking on the beach when the tide came up and eventually separated them.
At least 5400 people were killed in Thailand, which suffered doubly from the blow to tourism, which was flat for a year.
Now booming again, Thailand is keen to reassure the world it is ready should another disaster strike.
Part of the commemorations to take place on Friday at the police boat T813 – now a permanent on-land memorial at Khao Lak – are disaster readiness displays and drills.
Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha will speak, ahead of a candlelight tribute.
In Phuket, an annual tradition of lighting candles in the sand at Patong Beach will continue.