Hong Kong Weekend

I've had a couple days off from filming Go Back to China, so production was kind enough to arrange for me to hang out in Hong Kong. Even though it takes a few hours and crossing the border is a bit of a pain, I jumped at the opportunity to explore this city a little more.

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Friday

I was a bit tired from working all week, and traveling down from Shenzhen, so I decided to just hop on the Hong Kong Tram (nicknamed Ding Ding) and explore from the top of a moving vehicle. Starting at Western Market was a good idea, since it's the first/last stop and you're guaranteed a seat.

After an hour of street/people watching, I just hopped off the tram and took a subway over to Sheung Wan/Central. Abe was in Hong Kong earlier this year and stayed in this neighborhood. I got lost looking for the places he suggested, but stumbled upon Jenny Bakery, famous for their cookies. Apparently there's usually a long line and the workers are kind of rude, but at 5pm they were very pleasant and I walked out with two large tins (not gluten-free - a treat for the cast/crew) within 5 minutes.

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Saturday

This was my only full day in Hong Kong and I originally planned to go to Disneyland, since I'm a fanatic. But ultimately I decided it would be too crowded and went for something more local - Ocean Park - mainly because they have giant pandas. And I can never resist a panda. Sadly, the pandas were breeding so their exhibit was closed, but I still had a great time. If you go right when they open at 10am, you'll have the entire park to yourself. See my vlog at the bottom of this post!

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Later that same day I was disappointed to find that the Yuen Po Bird Garden is also temporarily closed (until May) but it is close to the Flower Market, which was also on my to-see list.

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Sunday

I've never really adjusted to the time change and have been waking up at 5am every day for the last 3 weeks, no matter how early/late I go to bed. So this morning I went back to Sheung Wan/Central and tried not to get lost again. This time I found Man Mo Temple!

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Finally, I took the Star Ferry back to my hotel in Kowloon. Now I'm going back to China to finish this movie - follow along on my Instagram Stories for the final few days.

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Filming in China

Hello from Shenzhen, China! I've never been to this city before (I actually haven't been back to China in over two decades) - unfortunately I haven't really had the time to explore because we've been working, but I've been having a ton o' fun.

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Filming food scenes is a lot more challenging now that I'm gluten-free, but I am loving this cast and crew...

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...also, the Go Back to China production team has been taking incredible care of my celiac needs with homemade meals and snacks. Anna Akana, the star of the movie, is vegan - so between the two of us these Chinese chefs are learning a lot about cooking for dietary restrictions.

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When I'm on my own, I've been making do with snacks that I packed (oatmeal, miso soup, energy bars/protein powder) plus REALLY plain stuff like steamed veggies/meat/rice and fresh fruit that have low risk of cross-contamination. As long as there isn't soy sauce in it, I've been pretty safe.

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Of course, I've been missing home like crazy!

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Here's a quick vlog I was able to put together while we were staying at The Mission Hills Resort. We're off to another city soon - follow along on my Instagram stories, where I have the entire trip saved in the highlights.


Filming in Hong Kong

This city is marvelous.

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We got a great view of Hong Kong Island from a cast dinner our first night at Hutong in Kowloon. This restaurant was not only gorgeous, but knew how to handle my gluten allergy with a multi-course tasting menu.

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I haven't been here since I was a teenager. Maybe that's why I'm still drawn to stuff like this.

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Sadly, I haven't had too much free time explore, but it's not like being on set with Anna Akana isn't fun.

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I have the morning off so I'm going to get my tarot cards read and walk around the city a little before we head to Shenzhen for the China part of "Go Back to China." Follow along on social media @mslynnchen!

Ojai Love

Abe and I love Ojai.  After the January fires took its toll on the community, we've been looking for an excuse to come back and put money into the tourist economy. It's Abe's birthday weekend and a month away from our 15th wedding anniversary, so we took a 2-day trip to the area using the Ojai Love Package - and I have to say this is our favorite stay so far.

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We arrived late on Friday, but beat traffic. We woke up before the sun both days and headed straight to the new-to-us Beacon Coffee, where they have lots of gluten-free options. This morning we played Chinese Checkers next to a movie star and her emotional support dog. The cafe is also next door to the adorable - and fun to say - Cattywampus Crafts, filled with yarn and gifts and things that make me want to knit. Sidebar - I've tried 4x to learn how and failed every single time.

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Saturday afternoon we stood on line with the rest of the town lunch at Ojai Tortilla House (104 N. Signal Street) where they quickly serve tacos, burritos, and quesadillas on homemade corn and flour tortillas.

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I got a gluten-free burrito bowl with chicken, while Abe went to town on his vegetarian wrapped version. Glorious and filling.

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After a free tour + tasting at Ojai Olive Oil, we stopped by Bart's Books for some requisite outdoor book browsing. I wish we had time to visit Meditation Mount but it was a little too chilly...

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...plus all I really wanted to do was cozy up in the most comfortable bed ever at The Emerald Iguana Inn. We've stayed at The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa + Ojai Rancho Inn in the past, but we definitely preferred this place. I feel like it's worth every penny.

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We ordered takeout from Farmer and the Cook (Abe loves their veggie burger), I took a terrific hot bath, and just like that our weekend was over. We're already missing Ojai like crazy.

Kauai - The Food

The night we arrived in Hawaii, we were greeted with a bottle of wine in our fridge and a beautiful pineapple. It took several days to work our way through this baby. It got sweeter and sweeter each night.

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Most of our meals took place at our gorgeous hotel, The Grand Hyatt. Pretty much every morning I had a veggie omelet and fresh fruit while enjoying this spectacular view.

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We'd spend most of our days driving but make frequent stops along the way (like Little Fish Coffee) for beverages and snacks.

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Even though we were in the land of Shave Ice (I had to keep reminding myself not to call it "Shaved Ice!") we found ourselves having more of a smoothie/acai bowl craving.

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Anake's Juice Bar is located in the back (next to the karaoke machine!) of Kukuiula Market, a family owned market in Koloa. We split a Hulk bowl (green from spirulina and kale) layered with gluten-free granola, which Abe pointed out was inspired by the color of Hulk's shorts and skin. We couldn't stop talking about this lunch. In fact, we went back on our last day right, right before the airport.

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Also back there - mason jars filled with homemade chia seed pudding and overnight oats! I felt so at home.

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In general, it was so unbelievably easy to eat gluten-free and there was no shortage of amazing produce.

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On Wednesdays from 3-6:30pm, the Kauai Culinary Market is hosted at The Shops at Kukuiula. This reminded me a lot of The Grove/Farmers Market in Los Angeles...

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...except better. Because Hawaiian Santa.

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We had a last-minute dinner there at Merriman's Fish House. The meals were pretty expensive but we made do with a bunch of sides/appetizers - all gluten-free!

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Only two dishes were on my Hawaii Bucket List, and they're both brought to you by the letter "P."

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Poke (above) which we got from Fish Express, and Poi (below) from Hanalei Taro Company. Both did not disappoint. Poi is kind of bland - with a yogurt consistency - but it tastes great with pork and fish on top! Abe had a veggie burger with taro, too.

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For the most part, we would eat snacks for dinner in our hotel room while watching a movie filmed in Kauai. Lots of fresh fruit, mac nuts (as I often heard them called) and local chips. I even had a glass of the aforementioned Pinot Grigio one night.

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Here is a little vlog I made on the first day, featuring Fresh Bite Kauai, a food truck. Seriously that salad I ate was one of the best I've ever had. And I come from the land of salads.