A Facebook contact wrote me and suggested visarite.com for expedited Chinese visas. I looked into it and decided it was our best (and only) option. The Czech Republic won't even issue us tourist visas for China, so we were pretty limited in how we could move forward. The VisaRite process involves sending our passports back to New York (where they send them to San Francisco, our region's nearest consulate) and paying them nearly $700 to get it all done and back to us in about a week. Our flight to China was on the 25th, which was cutting it far too close (what if there was a shipping delay or we have trouble picking it up?), so we changed our flight to the 28th. That cost us about $400. Luckily, our school is covering the visa fees en total. We sheepishly asked if they might cover part of our $400 fee to change flights, but I don't know about that. They've been very good to us so far.
On top of the money woes, now that we're in the Czech Republic for a few more days, that messes up our subletting situation. Our roommate had already promised the room to her brother who comes in on the 26th. So, we will be either staying with Cydney or in a hostel for the last couple of days.
There was a giant mall near the metro station, so we decided to check it out.