My first overseas trip was to Japan some 25 years ago. The (business) trip was organised in a hurry, so I only had a Visa card and $50. I thought since I was going to one of the most advanced industrialised countries in the world, this wouldn't be a problem.
Well, arriving in Nagoya, was like arriving in to a 1960's hospital ward. The only way of changing my money was lining up for the government money changers, and there were no facilities for getting cash out with my Visa card. So I changed my paltry $50 into Yen.
I thought, how am I going to get to my hotel? Well there was this huge ticket machine for the train. It must of had 300 buttons; all in Japanese. I flagged down a pilot and asked him to get a ticket for me, which he did; but then I thought; if I get this wrong I could end up in the middle of nowhere.
I had one contact number for the guy I was to meet up with. I found a public phone booth, and coins from the vending machine, but no idea which coins to put in to the phone to make a call or even what part of the international phone number to dial. I had to flag down a Japanese lady, held out my hand with the coins, showed her my number, and thankfully she was able to dial the right number though to an English speaking concierge. Thankfully my contact was in his room and through his optimistic sweedish/english told me to just catch a cab and he would meet me and pay for the cab.
Well the cab line was something to behold. Hundreds of early 80's Toyota crowns; all the drivers wore white gloves, the seats had whitelinen cloths on them. What suprised me though, was the trunk and passenger door were controlled by levers by the driver! I hoped in a cab, and said the hotel name MiyakoNagoya and I get a grunt back Miagonagooya Hi. I repeated it to make sure, and off we go. The speed limit is only an advisory to the driver. I'm watching the taxi meter click over the total value of Yen in my hands, and started wondering what a Japanese jail cell might look like.
I had many many other adventures on that working week in Japan. It is a great country, but back then its banking system was fairly backwards.