I was in Hong Kong in February of this year for 10 days. At 56 I'm a fairly fit single woman; I'm sure that you can do anything I could.
] I stayed at the Salisbury YMCA, which is impeccably clean, very safe, fantastic location, and a real bargain. Forget your stereotype of a YMCA, my room came with a coffee maker and a mini-fridge that was stocked with beer and bottled water - a welcome sight after a long flight from Chicago.
I know you want to stay away from tourist sites, but I would very much recommend you take the trip to the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
(Lantau Island). There is nothing like it in the world. You can skip the adjacent Ngong Ping village, unless you are looking for the closest Starbucks.
on Sunday is a great place for people watching. Check out the tai chi and sword practice by the sculpture garden. The park is busy all day, but if you want to see tai chi come in the morning.
The Man Mo Temple
on Ladder Street is on many tourist lists, but when I went, I didn't see many foreigners. You are welcome to take photos as long as you aren't a jerk, and the hanging incense is quite photogenic. A lot of local people come here to have their fortune told, and there is an English speaking fortune teller if you want to try it yourself.
The Ladies Market and Night Markets are pretty much all tourists, but the Jade Market
is another story. Unless you really know your stuff, I wouldn't buy anything here other than a momento (which can be had very inexpensively) but you will see Chinese tai tais
examining better pieces of jade with a critical eye.
The Star Ferry
is one of my favorite things about Hong Kong. It's cheap, they run constantly, and is good for people watching. Also, just seeing Victoria Harbor from another perspective is cool.
I love street food, and I've found many good meals that way. A couple of chain restaurants that are clean and serve decent inexpensive food are Cafe de Coral and Yoshinoya. The staff may not speak English, but the menu board has pictures and you can order by number or point at your selection. I also found a wonderful restaurant just off Nathan Road. The sign and the menu were in Cantonese, but I can send you a pictures and directions if you want.
A note about language: in Hong Kong people speak Cantonese, not Mandarin. Don't be fooled, while there are some similiarities, there are also many differences. I found most people were charmed that I could say "please" and "thank you" (and "beer" and "credit card") in Cantonese. It has been 12 years since the British left Hong Kong, and I was surprised at the number of businesses and restaurants right on Nathan Road that had no English evident in their signage.
I'm in the process of posting the stories and pictures of my trip, so you might want to check out my blogs Karen Johnson