Garage48 Tourism Pärnu Organiser Maarika Susi's TOP 5 Travel Destinations

Garage48 Tourism Pärnu hackathon organiser Maarika Susi is a passionate traveller herself and has had the good fortune of travelling throughout the world. Like most people, she uses Google Maps, TripAdvisor and Passbook for managing her tickets. Maarika feels as though there could be much more innovations that would ease travelling worries/issues and give her more ideas for next trips. As the anticipation grows for the upcoming week-end hackathon on November 13-15th in Pärnu, Maarika also added: "I have high expectations of what might be coming out from Garage48 Tourism Pärnu 2015 event. I even have couple of ideas myself but as I will be organising I hope that someone with similar ideas will start implementing them, so I could join the team." 

We asked Maarika to list the TOP 5 destinations she considers her most special travelling experiences so far and answer some of the questions regarding these trips:
1. Name of place, when did you go there? 
2. Why is it so special? 
3. Where did you get information about it? Why did you decide to go there? 
4. What apps, technological devices or web services did you use or wish you could have used at that time 
5. Funniest/most interesting thing happened during the trip? 

Without no specific order, you can now go through Maarika's travels in her own eyes.
* Japan 2005 
I had an opportunity of spending a summer in Japan living in a couple of typical families in Japan. One in the city of Nagoya and the other was a small village in mountains, Fukuoka-cho. It gave me a totally different perspective, because I got to see the culture and people from inside. I went there as a participant of Exchange program for the children of the members of the international charity club - Lions Club. For that I needed to go through the application process. 
I chose the location because of my personal interest in Asian cultures and also I wanted something totally different from Estonia. During that time (10 years ago) I wish I had a small audio-dictionary or a small device to help me in communicating with my families. They spoke really little English - but on the other hand I learnt a lot of Japanese during that period - just to survive. :) 
Well, it isn't maybe the funniest, rather a difference in cultures, but I remember very vividly how I lived with the family and for them hosting a foreigner is a truly honourable thing. In traditional Japanese families, all the family washes in one bath full of water. Starting of the father, mother and last the children. For the guests they offer the bath first. I remember how uncomfortable I felt in having a bath and thinking that all the family would come after me. :) 
* Oman 2014/2015 
For the 2nd year in a row we've organized Garage48 format hackathon events in Oman and got to know the local growing IT interested community more.  Oman is a very friendly country but also quite cautious of foreigners and visitors. We've had a pleasure of communicating with local people and getting to know them more, but for a typical tourist I can imagine that it might be pretty difficult.  
There is not much touristic information around about sights to visit & see and the infrastructure is not that ready for tourists, but it is definitely growing. Again, the idea of going there grew more and more we saw how different and at the same time how similar Omanis are. 
I wish we could have had a better touristic website available showing all the sights and giving information.  
I'm a true fan of Omani lifestyle of finding time and not rushing from one place to another, which is so common in our societies. Especially ladies there keep their things relaxed, stay feminine and still everything gets done! 
* Uganda 2015 
I spent my spring working as a volunteer in Uganda, Africa helping the local co-working space in Kampala. I helped with structuring their vision for boosting the local startup community and I also mentored some of the residents on daily basis in the co-working space Outbox HUB. It was my first visit to Middle Africa and I must say that it's really memorable and amazing experience. The awesome nature, the people and the busy streets - everything leaves a mark on you when you get back. 
I'm actually happy that I didn't use any devices/apps too often - I just got away from the city for the week-ends into the wild where there was no internet or phone coverage and only animal sounds during day and night. :) 
During those kind of trips you learn so much about yourself and the people around you. I think the most funny memorable incidents are the language and culture differences when you sit on the boda-boda (local motoroller which works as a taxi) and ask to take you to one place and understand on half way that you are taken to totally different area and the driver is not understanding what you are saying. :)
* Kyrgyzstan 2015 
I had the opportunity of visiting Kyrgyzstan this autumn in organizing the hackathon event and staying a couple of days in the countryside. Amazing wild nature and very friendly people. 
Kyrgyzstan with its little tourism from outside and rather an ecotourism destination is a definite must for the mountain trekkers and tourists who like to experience the local cultural heritage. I just loved the horse-back riding experience, fresh air and the wilderness. Kyrgyzstan has a way of welcoming foreigners cooking the national Kyrgyz dish Beshbarmak (whole lamb boiled with shredded meat) and offering lamb brains for the eldest in the group. My brother (Andres Susi, participated as a marketing mentor in Garage48 Bishkek 2015 event) had the honour of having that part - I remember the excitement and mixed feelings about trying a mouth-full.:) Beshbarmak means  "Five Fingers" in the Kyrgyz language, and is so called because the dish is typically eaten with the hands.

* Instanbul 2014
One of my favourite cities in the whole world is Istanbul. It has a great mixture of both Asia and Europe, of old and new and the real Turkish bazaars & amazing food. And lets not forget the vast number of shisha places. :)
I always like to travel with local people and spending time more as a local rather than feeling as a tourist and foreigner. I have great friends from Istanbul who showed us around and took us to local places, so they were the ones giving us information what and when to visit. 

Do you want to develop products and services for travellers like Maarika and yourself? If so and if you got inspired by Maarika's passion for new cultures, local traditions and communicating with the locals, then join the Garage48 Tourism Pärnu hackathon on November 13-15 in Pärnu, Estonia to innovate the TOURISM industry! 
For more info and registration go to 
Registration open for DEVELOPERS and DESIGNERS only! 
For any questions please e-mail to or