SHOE fanatics who can shop until they drop for fancy footwear think they are in heaven when they land in Hong Kong. The territory's streets are lined with shoe shops, and the range covers an area bigger than Alaska. From jewel-encrusted footwear in the most exclusive boutiques, to trendy fashion stores like Red or Dead, fashion stores in Causeway Bay and Happy Valley, and sports shoes and hiking boots in Stanley market - footwear is a fad which will never fade. But if you are a shoe-a-holic with feet larger than British size seven, you are in trouble. The shops mainly cater to local consumers, and while the Chinese practice of binding girl's feet tightly to stop them growing is no longer practised, the majority of women here have smaller feet than Western women. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the pair of shoes of your dreams - the pair that will, Cinderella-like, guarantee Prince Charming finds you - only to be told that they do not have them in your size. If you persist and demand to try on the largest size they have, you risk humiliation at your own peril. There are few things less elegant than trying to squash a big gweipo foot into a shoe made for dainty Chinese feet. It is not such a problem if you are looking for masculine type shoes - the answer is literally to go to the men's section of the shoe store and browse. Luckily, boots are popular this year for men and women, European women with bigger feet are quite likely to find something to fit their feet and the demands of fashion at the same time. But feminine-style shoes are another matter. Shoe shops in Hong Kong stock the most glamorous, stylish, trendy, beautiful, original, shoes in the world but, predominantly, not in European sizes. Happily, there are exceptions to the rule, and the stalwart of British fashion and a favourite among Western shoppers in Hong Kong - Marks & Spencer - comes to the rescue. M & S stores stock shoes up to size eight, and offer a wide range. You can select from smart casual day-wear, like low-heeled pumps, and stylish loafers, to elegant suede and patent black leather high-heeled evening wear, and even leisure footwear for the weekend, like ankle boots and canvas shoes. Those in the know will also head to Happy Valley. A string of shoe shops along Wong Nai Chung Road, opposite the race track, are famous for stocking a huge variety of shoes for large-ish feet. Some stores still stop at British size seven but they will order larger sizes for you on request. The other option is to have your shoes hand-made. Some of the cheaper shoemakers charge around $700 per pair, and you can specify everything from shape, to cut, to colour and accessories. It is a luxury only afforded in Hong Kong, and spells Nirvana for a real shoe-a-holic.