PHUKET: On this lovely island renowned for its wonderful spas, the place Iíve felt most pampered is not one.
Itís the sleek and modern Phuket Regional Blood Center (PRBC) next to the employment office, staffed by professionals delivering five-star service to those of us who give about 45 minutes of our time and about 10 per cent of our blood.
The center is immaculate and the equipment more high tech than Iíve ever seen, with scales that oscillate as they weigh the blood being drawn and tubes that seem to magically clamp shut.
And thereís never any waiting: you fill out a screening questionnaire, get weighed and have a finger pricked for a blood test. Then someone brings you a glass of water and itís off to a comfortable reclining chair to be tucked in with a sheet lest the air conditioner prove too chilly.
The nurses are the so-experienced-it-doesnít-hurt kind and itís all over in about 15 minutes.
The only thing left to do is replenish your vital fluids in the refreshment area. This is my favorite part.
An attendant brings over a clear plastic tray about six inches long, which holds a box of Milo drink, a glass of sweet punch, a small piece of foil-wrapped cake and a Band-Aid.
Nothing on this tray would appeal to me at any other time, but there at the PRBC, as a gesture of thanks and best wishes for my recovery, they are delicious.
The attendant swoops in to help with the Band-Aid the moment itís opened, and then, less than an hour after walking in the door, you leave.
They donít take just anyoneís blood at the PRBC, but then again, no blood center does.
Among those they refuse are first-time donors over 55; anyone over 70; those who lived in the UK for more than six months from 1980 to 1996; and men whoíve had sex with men.
If you are 60 to 70, you need a doctorís approval, and after getting a tattoo, you must wait six months.
If you plan to donate, donít drink alcohol in the 24 hours before you go, or take anticoagulants or aspirin in the three days prior.
Itís easy to find a time to go, since the PRBC is open every single day of the year. To save lives, and to pamper you.
For more information, visit them at 38/193 Rattanakosin 200 Years Road in Phuket Town or call 076-251178.